LONDON -- Jaguar plans to add a dramatically styled sporty hatchback to its lineup beginning in 2014.
Viewed in some quarters as a replacement for the X-Type, the new model has been inspired by the R-D6 concept first shown at the 2003 Frankfurt auto show.
The R-D6 design, which had been considered an ill fit for the brand's traditional sedan/sports-car image, is now gaining support at the highest levels of the company as it forges an independent future under Indian owner Tata Motors Ltd.
"There's a growing feeling with the R-D6 that we really had something very innovative, fresh and different. Maybe we missed something back then, but the idea is even more applicable now," a source told AutoWeek, Automotive News Europe's sister publication.
With a compact footprint and lightweight aluminum body and chassis, the sports hatch, dubbed R-D7 by one insider, also would help reduce Jaguar's corporate average emissions and improve its fleet fuel economy.
The choice of an aluminum body and chassis will push up the price of the new model, likely into the middle of the XF range, even though the car will be considerably smaller.
The positioning and pricing are intended to differentiate the new model from the slow-selling X-Type, which will cease production at the end of the year.
The sporty hatchback will share its chassis with the next-generation XK and an entry-level XE under development as a future Porsche Boxster fighter.
By sharing with other models, Jaguar will save development and tooling costs, particularly on crash engineering, package design, electrical system and interior structure.
Plans call for launching the sporty hatchback as a five-door, like the R-D6, with a three-door possible later.
"We want to have some utility in the car but not at the cost of elegance and styling. This still has to be a very beautiful Jag," our source said.
Jag's exterior and interior design teams are applying the latest XJ styling to the five-door hatchback, which itself draws on the fastback theme established in the XF.
At the same time, the new Jag won't feature any of the S-Type-inspired styling cues of the R-D6, which are now considered obsolete.
Jaguar drew on its E-type heritage for the R-D6 with a distinctive side-hinging hatch, but that idea has been ruled out as too costly for production. Similarly, the E-type-inspired oval grille also is being eliminated because it is considered too hard to adapt to multiple models.
Under the hood, the new model will get a range of V-6 gasoline and diesel engines, as well as a four-cylinder diesel for some markets. The 3.0- and 3.5-liter V-6 gas engines are expected to borrow heavily from the Jaguar-Land Rover 5.0-liter V-8 and will feature forced induction.