Now that the world has seen the X-type, the real work begins for Jaguar.
Over the next several years, Ford's luxury British carmaker plans to add X-type derivatives. Within 24 months, it intends to launch station wagon and diesel variants.
But Jaguar sources say the earliest addition to the X-type lineup will likely be a front-wheel-drive version powered by a smaller V6 engine. That car should be on the market within a year.
The X-type will initially be available only with four-wheel-drive.
Jaguar executives like to describe their strategy as 'opening the door' on the lower-luxury segment now dominated by the BMW 3 series, Mercedes-Benz C-class and Audi A4. The four-door sedan version of the X-type unveiled here in Geneva will establish Jaguar in the segment. Then X-type variants will fill in the niches.
Jaguar is looking at every niche covered by their main rivals, including coupes, cabriolets and station wagons.
Jaguar's Halewood, England, plant has the capacity to build about 100,000 units annually. Jaguar officials say that will only be reached when most of the X-type variants have been introduced.
Along the way, Jaguar planners will have some interesting decisions to make about how far they can stretch their brand. For example, can they sell coupe and cabriolet versions of the X-type alongside the forthcoming F-type sports car?
When it goes on sale in the spring, the X-type will only be available as a four-door sedan with two six-cylinder gasoline engine options: 2.5- or 3.0-liter. BMW's 3 series is sold in both four- and six-cylinder versions. The 3 series lineup includes gasoline and diesel engines, two-door coupes, four-door sedans, a station wagon, cabriolet and the Compact hatchback.
BMW built nearly 500,000 3 series in 2000. Mercedes-Benz made more than 250,000 units of its C-class, not including 75,000 CLKs. Jaguar's entire 2000 output, including XJ, XK and S-type, was under 100,000 units.
Jaguar does not plan to compete with its rivals in all areas. For example, Jaguar sources say it's unlikely there will ever be a four-cylinder Jaguar to compete with four-cylinder versions of BMW's 3 series. 'Refined power' is a core Jaguar value, and Jaguar doesn't believe four-cylinder engines are suited to the brand.
'We're only competing with BMW in a tiny segment,' said Wolfgang Reitzle, chairman of Jaguar and a former BMW executive. He is also chairman of Ford's Premier Automotive Group of luxury brands, of which Jaguar is a part.
Reitzle added: 'The threat to BMW is minimal.'