Fortunately, premium automakers have not adopted a One Size Fits All approach. We have choices. Plenty of choices.
Increasingly, however, we are seeing a One Look Fits All Sizes methodology, limiting ourÂ ability to distinguish between a 3 Series, 5 Series, and 7 Series at BMW; between A4s, A6s, and A8s at Audi; or betweenÂ C, E, and S-Class sedans at Mercedes-Benz.
With the second-generation XF appearing all but identical to the first XF, and the subsequent launch of the entry-level XE closely resembling an abbreviated XF, Jaguar’s guilty of the same crime against differentiation.
“We will separate them more in the future,” Callum told Autocar, referencing the XE and XF in particular and confirming that the next-generation XE will also be rear-wheel-drive-based. While connected by traditional Jaguar themes, Jaguar will provide greater distinctions between its growing lineup. “There will be a constant grille, then a more flexible front.”
This explains why the new E-Pace, revealed yesterday, doesn’t look exactly like the larger F-Pace crossover. “We wanted the E-Pace to have its own character, its own place,” Callum told AutoExpress. “So its headlights are from the F-Type.”Callum also says the E-Pace’s key side signatures, a line that begins at the headlights and disappears at the rear door along with a higher line that accentuates the hind quarters, are inspired more by the F-Type sports car than the F-Pace utility vehicle.
Design unity is integral to image building, particularly for luxuryÂ brands. High-end automakers want their entry-level buyers to feel as though they bought into something premium, an upmarket lifestyle. But if the entry-level model doesn’t look anything like its more expensive siblings, then what is the image-conscious customer acquiring?
Unfortunately, design unity has gradually become design uniformity. Without a measuring tape, it’s not easy to tell which one is the Audi A4 and which one is the Audi A6. Is that a C-Class Cabriolet or an E-Class Cabriolet?
Now it becomes Ian Callum’s job to convince Jaguar’s other division heads that some differentiation is healthy, as the need for greater distinction may only increase. Asked by Autocar about the potential for even smaller Jaguars, “No plans, but I’d like to think so,” Callum said.
Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor ofÂ GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.