Page last updated at 20:52 GMT, Thursday, 9 July 2009 21:52 UK

Changing face of Jaguar

By Peter Plisner
BBC Midlands Today transport correspondent


The BBC's Peter Plisner has been given access to the new Jaguar XJ

Car maker Jaguar has launched its latest new model. The XJ sedan was unveiled at a glitzy ceremony in London on Thursday.

It follows on from the highly successful XF model, which helped to re-establish the Jaguar brand after several years of heavy losses.

Like previous models, sales of the new XJ are crucial to the company.

Last month Tata, the Indian firm that owns both Jaguar and Land Rover, announced that the Midlands brands had lost about £1m a day in the 10 months since it bought the two companies from US maker Ford.

Jaguar and Land Rover have seen a downturn in sales in the last few months, although the success of the XF has helped Jaguar maintain a reasonable share of the luxury car market.

'Too modern'

It is hoped the new XJ will be just as popular and as a result could help to stem some of recent losses suffered by the JLR group.

Prices will range from about £50,000 to £90,000.

Under designer director Ian Callum, the whole Jaguar look has undergone a major overhaul that has not been to everyone's liking.

Designer director Ian Callum speaks about Jaguar's new model, the XJ sedan

But others have applauded the changes, which have helped to attract new customers who previously would not have wanted a Jaguar.

Mr Callum said recently that the XJ was "right and correct for the 21st Century".

He added on Thursday: "It's a beautiful sleek car as a Jaguar should be, but it's a very modern car and it fits with the 21st Century.

"It's absolutely the right thing to do."

The XF model, launched last year, has already won many awards including both "Car of the Year" and "Design of the Year" from several leading car magazines.

Many feel the success of the car has helped to restore confidence in what was seen as a flagging brand.

Mr Callum maintains that in designing the new XJ he has had to call on his entire 30 years of learning and experience in the car industry.

'Lightest' car

The overall outcome, he has suggested, is something "very special indeed".

The new XJ will be one of the lightest cars in its class, being made of aluminium instead of steel.

The original XJ model dates back to the late 1960s and has served as a flagship model for the Jaguar brand ever since.

It is said the model was the last Jaguar saloon to have had design-input from Sir William Lyons, the company's founder.

The current XJ model was launched in 2003 and underwent a makeover in 2007.

Like the last XJ, the model has been designed at Whitley in Coventry and will be built at the Castle Bromwich factory in Birmingham.

Production lines are being prepared and several pre-production models have already been made.

The new car will go on sale early next year.

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