Weekly Recap: Jaguar takes a leap with price cut, new strategy

Plus: Notes On The Jeep Wrangler, Ford Fusion ST, And Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet

Jaguar was one of the famous automotive props and plotlines in the now-iconic drama Mad Men. There's a scene where the show's protagonist, Don Draper, deftly undercuts an influential Jaguar dealer by indicating that get-me-in-the-door local radio spots would be an effective way to sell cars like the slinky E-Type. The British executives think this is folly – Draper knows they will – and his advertising strategy wins out over the dealer's approach to move the metal.

Jaguar's not doing that, but half a century later in the real world the company is launching plans to make its cars more attainable to new and younger customers like Millenials. These aren't coupons, but this is a leap for Jaguar, which has long banked on sexy styling and its rich motorsports history to overshadow its past mechanical flaws.

Put simply, Jaguar is addressing the reasons why people, especially the younger set, don't buy its cars. The 2017 XE will start at $35,895 when it launches next spring – which makes it an attractive buy for a successful, relatively young person. When it's time to move up, the redesigned XF will be more attainable, coming in at $52,895, which is $5,275 less than the 2015 model. The flagship XJ sedan and the enthusiast-oriented F-Type sports car will also get thousands of dollars worth of added standard features, and Jag is actively pitching them as a better value than their competitors.

"The Jaguar brand is on the eve of a major transformation that will see it dramatically increase its presence in the United States luxury marketplace with an expanded lineup, pricing focused on the core of the luxury market, and an all-new ownership package with best-in-class coverage," Joe Eberhardt, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover North America, said in a statement.

The brand's quality and reliability dings have also lurked in the back of buyers' minds for decades, though that's an outdated notion. Jaguar placed third in J.D. Power's Initial Quality Study in June and was the top-ranked luxury brand in J.D. Power's Customer Service Index in March. Not content, the company is rolling out an enhanced program called Jaguar EliteCare that launches on 2016 models. It offers a five-year, 60,000-mile limited warranty, the longest among its competitors, with free scheduled maintenance during that period. The plan also covers roadside assistance and connectivity features. "All new Jaguar models will be defined by both their design and performance and now, a highly attractive ownership value proposition," Eberhardt said.

Perhaps most important, Jaguar is adding the F-Pace compact crossover to its lineup, which will debut later this month at the Frankfurt Motor Show and enter one of the hottest segments in the industry. A Jaguar crossover would have seemed preposterous even a few years ago, but it's clearly in line with the market and consumer preferences.

Underscoring all of this will be a new advertising campaign, dubbed Not Business As Usual, which will support the XF and announce Jaguar's aggressive new strategy. It's a Draper-esque tagline that will help dealers sell more cars. The campaign sounds lofty, but it's rooted in reality, which neatly sums up Jaguar's new strategy.


jeep wrangler factoryJeep Wrangler gets a pickup sibling, stays in Toledo

Fiat Chrysler will keep Jeep Wrangler production at the Toledo, OH, site that has made the iconic off-roader for decades, Automotive News reported. The Wrangler will also get a pickup sibling – something enthusiasts have long clamored for – and it will be assembled in Toledo. But the Cherokee SUV, which is currently built at the Ohio complex, will move to a new site, likely in Michigan or Illinois, the trade publication said. The next-gen Wrangler is expected for 2018. The confirmation ends nearly a year of controversy after Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne suggested the new model could move from the Wrangler's longtime production home, prompting a flurry of moves from city and state officials to keep it in Ohio.

Ford Fusion ST spy photo Ford Fusion ST spied

Ford is planning to launch more than new 12 performance vehicles around the world through 2020 – and they can't all be Raptors and GT350s. These spy shots (click the image at right) indicate a performance Fusion, likely to be badged ST, is in the works as part of the sedan's refresh due in early 2016. We see an intercooler behind the lower grille, bigger brakes, four exhaust pipes, and what appear to be more athletic 19-inch wheels. The souped-up Fusion is expected to make more than 300 horsepower put to the road via all-wheel drive. The Fusion would expand the ST line, which currently is comprised of the Focus and Fiesta hatches in the United States, to a more mainstream sedan model. Ford is also launching a Focus RS in the US in next spring.

Mercedes S-Class cabrioletMercedes cracks opens S-Class cab

We knew it was coming, but that doesn't make the Mercedes S-Class cabriolet any less stunning. The fourth version of Mercedes' flagship line to come to the United States was revealed ahead of its formal debut later this month at the Frankfurt Motor Show. It will come in two versions. The 5.5-liter biturbo V8 cranks out 577 hp and 664 lb-ft pound-feet of torque in the S63 AMG 4Matic, and the S550's 4.7-liter biturbo V8 pushes out 449 hp and 516 lb-ft. As befitting an S-Class, the cabriolet is opulently finished. Swarovski crystals are optional for the turn signals, it has Mercedes' latest active safety features, and the roof can be opened or closed in less than 20 seconds via a switch in the center console.

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Jaguar XF Information

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