Look to Audi and Jaguar Land Rover to spice up the luxury market as we head into 2016 and beyond. Audi will be renewing 80 percent of its U.S. model lineup over the next three years, culminating in the intriguing, Tesla-rivaling, e-tron Quattro.
As for Jaguar, the coming months will see a refreshed XF mid-range sedan plus the new XE compact sedan and F-Pace crossover. For its part Land Rover is debuting a new diesel version of popular Range Rover luxury SUV.
Audi’s fresh product wave starts next month with the latest version of its flagship Q7 crossover, followed swiftly by an all-new A4 compact sedan. Later in 2016 come the new R8 supercar, Q5 mid-size crossover and A5 coupe.
After several years of record-setting sales growth in pursuit of luxury market leaders, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, Audi’s U.S. CEO Scott Keogh believes his company’s upward trajectory can be maintained.
“It’s impressive that we are on track to another record year with two aging cars, the Q7 and A4, in the biggest segments,” notes Keogh. “But with all the new product we have coming, plus our strong dealership network and excellent buyer demographics, we should be able to keep up the pace.”
Though Audi’s forthcoming new core models, notably the A4 and Q5, are the keys to the company’s near-term success, further down the road many industry watchers are curious about the e-tron Quattro. Shown at the recent Frankfurt and LA auto shows as a concept, this large, seven-seat crossover comes to market in 2018 and marks Audi’s entry into the battery-electric vehicle segment.
As a plug-in luxury crossover with a 300-mile range, the e-tron Quattro will compete directly with Tesla’s forthcoming Model X crossover.
Compared to the Model X, which has a tighter interior and two electric motors versus three in the Audi, the e-tron Quattro could have some significant advantages, plus a more competitive expected price point. “The trick here is not to build an electric car,” says Keogh. “The trick is to build a car that will get broad acceptance.”
A decade from now, Keogh expects 25 percent of Audi’s U.S. sales will come from a combination of hybrids and full electric vehicles.
Next to Audi, Jaguar is a small volume player in the U.S. market, but the British-made, Indian-owned brand hopes to significantly expand its luxury sector penetration with a new product offensive in 2016. Heading the charge is the redesigned XF, introduced in 2007 as Jaguar’s midsized sedan. The new XF boasts more technology, dynamic capabilities and is more efficient than its predecessor, says Mike Bradley, senior launch manager. With a roomier interior, choice of 340-hp or 380-hp V-6 engines, eight-speed automatic transmission and optional all-wheel drive, the XF is well placed to compete with rivals such as BMW’s 5 Series and the Audi A6.
Slotting in below the XF is the all-new compact XE sedan. Early reviews from European markets where the car is on sale suggest it has the measure of the established segment leader, BMW’s 3 Series.
Jaguar will also extend its market reach with the arrival next spring of the F-Pace. As a smaller, five-seat crossover, the F-Pace will tackle the popular Porsche Macan head on, with an emphasis on sporty handling and performance.
Jaguar’s sister brand, Land Rover, rounds out the capabilities of its successful Range Rover SUV lineup with the inclusion of a diesel-engine version. The 3.0-liter V-6 in the Range Rover Td6 is extremely refined and smooth in regular on-road driving. And when it comes to crawling along rock-strewn off-road trails, the engine’s high torque output makes it very competitive with the Range Rover’s existing supercharged gasoline V-8 powertrain and significantly more fuel-efficient.
John McCormick is a columnist for Autos Consumer and can be reached at email@example.com.