British luxury carmaker Jaguar has launched its cheapest ever car at its most expensive ever event. Ivor Bennett finds out if the model - designed to appeal to women and younger drivers - can take on BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
Part Harry Potter, part Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang - Jaguar knew it had to aim high. And the airlift across London was just the beginning. After a west-end style musical and numerous celebrity acts, the new XE model was finally revealed, in front of an audience of 7000. Total cost of the launch? A reported £4million. Group marketing director Phil Popham SOUNDBITE (English) PHIL POPHAM, GROUP MARKETING DIRECTOR, JAGUAR LAND ROVER, SAYING: "the most important thing is making a statement about our future. Jaguar is serious, Jaguar has got momentum, and what you'll see tonight, and what the audience will see, is that celebration and be left in no doubt at all that Jaguar has got a fantastic future." The car marks a return to the entry-level luxury market - a sector expected to generate over 1.5 million sales next year. Jaguar's last attempt - the X type - was deemed a flop and discontinued in 2009. Since then, rivals like BMW and Audi have surged ahead. SOUNDBITE (English) IVOR BENNETT, REUTERS REPORTER, SAYING: "Jaguar Land Rover sold 425,000 cars worldwide last year. Not bad at all, but less than 1 in 5 of those were Jaguars. Just 77,000. What's more, big rival BMW sold more than that in the UK alone." At £27,000, the XE is Jaguar's cheapest ever car the first model ina range designed to widen its appeal to women and younger drivers. With a long bonnet and short rear, it has the brand's distinctive hallmarks, along with 4G connectivity and the option for a low emission engine. Graham Hope is deputy editor at industry magazine Auto Express. SOUNDBITE (English) GRAHAM HOPE, DEPUTY EDITOR, AUTO EXPRESS MAGAZINE, SAYING: "I don't think it's make or break, that would be over dramatising it. But what it will do if it's a success, is that it will massively increase their sales volume across the world, possibly double it, and if it does so it will then free up the revenue for Jaguar to take part in other parts of the market." The company reportedly has up to 7 new models that could be financed off the back of the XE. First on the list is an SUV, due in 2016. Not one for the purists perhaps, but needs must when times are tough.