Brand. Major brand.
That’s how Tata Motors Ltd. wants luxury-car buyers to see its Land Rover sport-utility vehicle lineup. For the unveiling of its Range Rover Sport, the brand’s fastest model yet, it brought out big stars, including Daniel Craig, who has portrayed British spy James Bond in three movies, including 2012’s “Skyfall.”
On the eve of the New York auto show, the British SUV brand owned by Mumbai-based Tata brought an array of stars including Michael Strahan, the former U.S. football pro turned TV host, singer Simon Le Bon of ’80s pop band Duran Duran, and Jade Jagger, the jewelry designer and model who is also the daughter of Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger.
“For the Range Rover Sport, the New York metro area is its biggest market in the world, and the U.S. is its biggest country market in the world,” said Andy Goss, chief executive officer of Jaguar Land Rover North America. “That’s exactly why we chose to bring it here. It’s a perfect fit.”
Tata acquired the U.K. luxury brands from Ford Motor Co. in 2008 for $2.5 billion. Combined worldwide sales rose 30 percent in 2012 to 357,773 vehicles. Under Tata, Jaguar and Land Rover have targeted emerging markets such as China and Russia. China became the top-selling market for the brands last year.
The Range Rover Sport is the third Range Rover model introduced in two years, joining the 2013 Range Rover and the Range Rover Evoque. The company said it is the fastest, most responsive and agile of the line.
Later today, the company will show a couple of high-powered Jaguars.
The XJR -- a super-powered version of the XJ sedan -- is powered by an aluminum V-8 mated to an eight-speed transmission that monitors acceleration, braking and cornering to determine whether the car is being driven aggressively or just to the grocery store and adjusts accordingly.
“This is a premium luxury supercar that also has an extremely purposeful look to it,” Ian Callum, Jaguar design director, said in a statement.
Jaguar will also show a racetrack-ready yet street-legal XKR-S GT. Based on the XK coupe, the $174,000 model has an all-aluminum body and the same engine as the XJR: a 550-horsepower, 5-liter V-8. It delivers a zero-to-60 time of 3.9 seconds with an electronically limited top speed of 186 miles (299 kilometers) per hour. Only 30 will be made available to customers in North America, including 25 in the U.S., starting in August.
For the Range Rover Sport, Goss was tickled to have Craig drive the car on stage at Moynihan Station.
“At the end of the day, we’re British, and there’s nobody more British than James Bond,” the executive said. “He’s hot as hot, and the car is hot as hot.”