Jaguar reconnects to sports-car roots

Brand markets its heritage with F-Type convertible, coupe

Roughly 80 percent of buyers for the F-Type convertible are new to the brand.

LOS ANGELES -- The F-Type two-door sports cars are allowing Jaguar to re-create its image and history as it prepares for a new compact sedan due in 2016, says the brand's vice president.

"We have been out of that space for 40 years since the E-Type went away," said Jeff Curry, brand vice president for Jaguar North America.

The brand is marketing its sporting heritage with the F-Type convertible and coupe "in a new modern context," Curry said at a press event here. About half of all F-Types produced will be sold in the United States, said company executives.

Roughly 80 percent of buyers for the F-Type convertible, which went on sale a year ago, are new to the brand, said Curry. The 2015 F-Type coupe went on sale this month.

The F-Type cars will bring additional volume to the brand, and combined convertible and coupe sales this year could "easily exceed 2,500 units," said Curry, declining to give a sales target. Jaguar sold 1,309 F-Types through May and 2,250 units last year. Jaguar sales were up 15 percent through May to 7,054 cars. The XF and XJ sedans are the brand's biggest sellers in the United States.

The F-Type coupe starts at $65,925 and has a V-6 turbocharged, 3.0-liter base engine with 340 hp. The 2015 convertible has a base price of $69,925. Both prices include shipping.

Curry: Combined F-Type convertible and coupe sales this year could "easily exceed 2,500 units."

No substitution expected

Curry said Jaguar does not expect substitution between the two F-Type models: "We expect coupe sales to be additive because coupe and convertible buyers are different -- there is not a lot of crossover between those two segments."

Initial data show coupe buyers are coming out of competing luxury models such as the Audi A5 and S5 coupes, Curry said.

The median income of the F-Type buyer is more than $300,000. A "significant" number of buyers are paying cash and custom-ordering their cars, said Tim Philippo, Jaguar North America product manager for the F-Type and XK.

"It is the first Jaguar that buyers are willing to order and wait for," Philippo said.

The influx of conquest buyers isn't lowering the brand's age. F-Type buyers' average age is 59; the average age for the brand is 55, according to Jaguar.

Marketing as disrupter

Jaguar is marketing itself as a disruptive brand as it seeks to pave the way for the compact sedan and other models built on its new aluminum architecture.

The prime example is the F-Type coupe commercial called "Rendezvous," which debuted during the Super Bowl. It stars three British actors portraying bad boys on film -- Ben Kingsley, Mark Strong and Tom Hiddleston -- and was directed by Academy Award-winner Tom Hooper.

"We knew we wanted to do something different with this car; it will disrupt the segment," said Curry. "We had to take a chance to tell people about our return to the segment."

Jaguar sales aren't expected to grow significantly until Jaguar sells smaller cars priced well below $50,000. It left the compact segment when the X-Type sedan went out of production in late 2007. That car was designed under Ford Motor Co. ownership and shared underpinnings with the Ford Mondeo. Jaguar and sister company Land Rover were sold to India's Tata Motors in 2008.

The first new smaller model will be the XE sedan, which will compete with the BMW 3 series and the Mercedes-Benz C class. It goes on sale in Europe in 2015, but Jaguar North America opted to wait until early 2016 for the XE so that all drivetrains and engines would be available -- and the car could launch with top reliability, Curry said. The XE is expected to debut at this fall's Paris auto show.

You can reach Diana T. Kurylko at -- Follow Diana T. on Twitter: @dianakurylko

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