If ever a car company embodies that encouraging mantra, `nothing breeds success like success’ then it has to be Jaguar.
OK, strictly speaking that should be Jaguar Land Rover, and credit is due to both arms, but I have just spent a day with Jaguar at Silverstone and hence my focus on the Big Cat.
There is a restrained but palpable sense of optimism in the air within the company, a sense that in its 75th year we are on the verge of seeing Jaguar in its full, glorious potential.
Interviewing Geoff Cousins, the company MD, he told me that there is a clear timeline to the transformation of Jaguar’s fortunes. I had put it to him earlier that it isn’t so long ago that Jaguar was seen as the poor relation of the premium car sector. It had no money, its products were not class-leaders and its range was woefully limited.
He replied thus: “Four years ago we introduced the XK and that made us realize we could again make world beating cars. Ian Callum took over the styling of our cars and there was a group of us which realized that this is make or break time for Jaguar – but we knew from the XK that we could do things.
“Going forward we delivered the XF which has since won more than 50 awards internationally and is beating all its opposition and now we have the new XJ. This is a product-led recovery.”
The sales figures brook no argument. Earlier, Damian Lawton, Jaguar’s Product Manager, told me that sales in the UK are up a staggering 44 per cent (excluding the X-TYPE which ceased production last December).
The XF has 60 per cent conquest sales which means that more than half the owners are new to the brand, the XF and XJ have best-in-class residual values, the XK second best in class and so it goes on.
This was all good stuff and having driven the cars on both road and track on numerous occasions it is easy to see why Jaguar is selling so well. Believe me, if you haven’t driven one, treat yourself. Jag used to do two weeks of track driving for customers a year – such is the demand it now does one week each month for eight months a year!
But what summed it up for me is something Geoff Cousins said, almost as a throw away line at the end of my interview.
“Do you know,” he said “the thing that is really in our favour at the moment is that we have the cars, we have the styling, we have the performance, the value and the comfort but what is really making this time different is that Jaguar has become cool again; Jaguar is sexy, Jaguar is fashionable.”
The PR and marketing helps of course, but the bottom line is this – Jaguar is currently making some of the best cars in the world.
And as future blogs will reveal, this is only the start. In its 75th year, Jaguar is very much looking forward to the future.
Perrys is one of Britain’s top car retailers, and always has a great range of new and used Jaguars in stock