The vital new luxury model from the British brand is being touted as “a true driver’s car” that “redefines the concept of the sports saloon”, one that will take on the likes of the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class, not to mention the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. Jaguar claims the new model is the most aerodynamic car the brand has ever offered, with a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.26.
The British maker says the car is the “lightest and stiffest Jaguar saloon”, with a “classic rear-drive stance” and “streamlined styling”.
That styling is striking, with strong lines and, dare we say it (Jaguar sure as heck did!), a coupe-like profile – more like an Audi A5 than an A4 – its design aids the car’s aerodynamics, while features such as eight specific wheel packages and a radiator with active shutters further enhance its ability to cut the air.
The XE measures up close to its main rivals at 4.67 metres long, 1.85m wide and 1.41m tall. It rides on a 2.83m wheelbase, which is longer than most (Audi A4, BMW 3 Series: 2.81m; Mercedes-Benz C-Class: 2.84m).
It’s the first car to be built on Jaguar Land Rover’s new modular architecture, and the company states the aluminium-intensive architecture will “set the standard for driving dynamics in the midsize segment”, with claims of “precise handling” and a “supple ride”.
It apparently does so by using a high-tech suspension setup, with a double wishbone front-end and Integral Link rear, the latter adopted from more luxury-focused models as a “conventional multilink rear suspension couldn’t deliver Jaguar’s dynamics targets”.
The XE is the first Jaguar to be fitted with electric power steering, which the brand says offers "class-leading steering feel and response". The car’s aluminium construction helps keep its weight in check, with kerb weight for the range starting “from 1474 kilograms” according to the current information the company has released.
That's still heavier than the BMW 3 Series (316i: 1385kg), Audi A4 (1.8 TFSI: 1430kg) and Mercedes-Benz C-Class (C180: 1395kg). However, Jaguar says the XE is the only car in its class to use an aluminium-intensive monocoque, with the lightweight metal accounting for 75 per cent of the car’s structure (or 67 per cent by weight).
“Jaguar’s position as the leading premium manufacturer of aluminium vehicles allowed us to develop a light, stiff body structure that is ground-breaking in its class,” said Kevin Stride, vehicle line director for the Jaguar XE.
“It enables the XE’s advanced chassis technologies to deliver an unprecedented balance of agility and levels of refinement previously found only in vehicles from the segments above.”
Full engine details are yet to be revealed, though we have previously reported that Jaguar’s new “Ingenium” engine range will be rolled out firstly in the XE range and then in other Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) products.
Jaguar has confirmed that “the first Ingenium engines to come off the line are 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesels”, including a headline-grabbing version that will deliver fuel use of just 3.8 litres per 100 kilometres. That is for the manual version only, which is highly unlikely to be sold in Australia, but diesel Ingenium engines will also be offered with an eight-speed automatic. The top diesel will pump out 120kW of power and 380Nm of torque.
Intriguingly, Jaguar has stated that diesel XE models can do without servicing for up to two years or 21,000 miles (33,796km). The diesel range will be joined by a pair of petrol turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0-litre units with differing states of tune.
No power, torque, performance or fuel use details have been revealed to date, but a release from the brand states the engines “are powerful and refined and generate strong torque from low speeds, ensuring excellent launch performance and mid-range response”.
Both of the Ingenium petrol engines will be offered with a lighter version of the standard ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox. No manual is expected for the four-cylinder petrol versions.
“Ingenium is a new family of compact, lightweight, low-friction, low-emissions engines that will deliver both the efficiency and performance that our global customers desire,” said Ron Lee, JLR Group chief engineer of powertrains.
“Ingenium will make the new XE the most fuel efficient Jaguar ever – and the greenest.” As CarAdvice has previously reported, the new XE S model will be offered with a 3.0-litre six-cylinder supercharged petrol engine, the same engine seen in the F-Type sports car.
This “high-revving” powerplant produces 250kW of power at 6500rpm and torque is rated at 450Nm, available at 4500rpm. Power is sent to the rear wheels only, with an eight-speed automatic gearbox with paddleshifters.
Jaguar’s XE S will compete against the Audi S4 (245kW/440Nm 3.0-litre supercharged V6), BMW 335i (225kW/400Nm 3.0-litre turbo six) and the new Mercedes-Benz C400 (245kW/480Nm twin-turbo 3.0-litre six).
Jaguar claims a higher-than-class-average fuel consumption of 8.3 litres per 100 kilometres, above the likes of the abovementioned S4 (8.1L/100km) and BMW 335i (7.2L/100km). The XE S will boast large front air intakes, chrome side vents, a “discreet” rear spoiler and optional 20-inch forged alloy wheels.
A range-topping SVR model has already been rumoured, with suggestions that car will use the same 5.0-litre supercharged V8 used in the F-Type range. That engine could produce as much as 365kW and be capable of a 0-100km/h dash of in 4.0 seconds or less.
Safety is another key area of the XE’s focus, with Jaguar expecting top scores in crash tests. On top of that, the XE will debut a new system known as All Surface Progress Control (ASPC). The semi-autonomous driving system “works like a low- speed cruise control” between 3.6km/h and 30km/h and is designed specifically for loose or slippery surfaces, such as snow or gravel.
Jaguar says the system controls the brakes and powertrain and “delivers optimum traction in the most slippery conditions without skidding and without the driver using the pedals”.
Other high-tech gadgets include a laser head-up display that shows the driver speed and navigation instructions by beaming them on to the windscreen. As is expected these days (and mandatory for a five-star crash rating), Jaguar will offer an autonomous braking system which, in this case, uses a stereo camera system that can apply full brake pressure to avoid a crash (up to 40km/h) or lessen the extent of a crash (up to 80km/h).
That camera system also incorporates traffic sign recognition and lane-departure warning. Further safety items include adaptive cruise control, closing vehicle sensing (which warns the driver of fast approaching cars from the rear), blind-spot monitoring, semi-automated parking and rear cross-traffic alert.
Expect more details on the all-new XE range – including further engine options – to be revealed at the 2014 Paris motor show in October, ahead of the vehicle reaching showrooms worldwide in 2015, including Australia in about August 2015. Australian specifications are expected at a later date.