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The all-new 2015 Jaguar XE returns its famed British-based maker to the mid-sized market dominated by the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4

In the luxury car game worldwide, this is where the big volume lies, and it’s where the big players thrive. As such, the XE — a conceptual replacement for the underwhelming X-Type of the 2000s — has a huge role to play in furthering Jaguar’s Indian-funded renaissance. 

Revealed with some fanfare this morning in its native market, the largely aluminium XE sits on a new rear/all-wheel-drive platform, gets a new range of engines and sports a cabin that technologically moves the game forward for the brand.

Dust up on all the information right here, but in short it is Jaguar’s lightest and stiffest sedan and the most aerodynamic, makes use of active safety technology and Jaguar’s latest InControl infotainment system, and is designed to offer “exhilarating” performance thanks to its chassis tuning and new Ingenium engines which, by the way, are also exceedingly frugal. 

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What we’ve done here is another iteration of the ‘Hit or Miss?’ group opinion piece we kicked off last week with the new Mazda MX-5

Here we gauge the CarAdvice team’s take on the car’s design, rather than what lies beneath the new bodyshell. 

Jaguar wants to position the XE as the segment’s sporting choice along with the 3 Series. Does the styling live up to that hype? Remember, we want your two cents too, dear reader.

Before that, we’ll give you the words of Jaguar design director Ian Callum, who says the new modular architecture developed in parallel “unlocks design possibilities that did not exist before because the core dimensions were determined by design and engineering working together from the very beginning”.

“This makes it possible to realise perfect proportions: short front overhang, longer rear overhang and dynamic, cab-rearward stance. The architecture also enables the XE to feature both a low, sporty driving position and a sleek, coupe-like profile,” Callum said. 

So, to translate, the XE’s styling is said to be overwhelmingly sporty and uncompromised. Is it?

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Matt Campbell, who is on the international reveal launch and has seen the car in person: Hit

The new Jaguar XE. It’s supposed to be the brand’s most important car in years, perhaps even its most critical vehicle ever. Full stop. Well, in terms of volume, anyway, and also in regards to the company being taken seriously in one of the toughest-fought segments of the global market.

Looking at the images of the XE, I had no doubt the car fulfilled the brief of being a stunning looking sedan. Its swooping roofline; its bold front fascia; its flashy yet funky interior styling – all of these bits combine nicely. The rear-end design, with its weird looking flattened tail-lights … not so much.

The biggest question in my mind is whether the XE changes the game in terms of its styling. Having seen it in the metal, I don’t really think it does, especially given the brand’s suggestion that this was the sort of car that gave it the freedom to do exactly that.

That said, this is a sexy car. A car with character. It has all the right curves. It has a slinky yet powerful presence. And if it drives as well as Jag claims, it should really put the cat amongst the pigeons in the mid-size luxury segment.

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Jez Spinks, resident Brit: Hit

Jag’s chief designer Ian Callum told me in 2008 that if they were (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) to build a car smaller than the XF, it couldn’t be a conventional three-box design.

I guess the sloping rear roofline means technically the XE isn’t, though it looks more conservative than expected.

It’s ‘sexy’ conservative, though. The XE looks even lower than a BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe while looking as, if not more, athletic and nicely executing the rear-wheel-drive stance.

Then you remember the styling of this car’s predecessor, the X-Type… Hit.

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Alborz Fallah: Miss

What the? What has Jaguar done? It has had years to design its most important car and I think it’s a total miss.

The front end is just a continuation of the XF, with slighter sharper lines to fit its new, smaller, profile. Yet the rear, what on earth has happened there? It looks like something out of the early 90s — a flat, almost un-sculptured shape lacking the innovative design and progression of the Jaguar brand. 

Maybe it’s the red colour, maybe it’s the computer generated images, but for me, for now, this is a big miss. 

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Dan DeGasperi: Hit

 The Alfa Romeo 159 will probably always have the sexiest bum in the mid-sized sedan business, but if you can’t have yours from Italy then the British, these days it seems, aren’t far behind for doing a good tail.

The Jaguar XE’s pert little rump reminds me of a 159 – its short bootlid probably doing nothing for practicality but everything for looks. Quite like how the number plate surround hangs so far in from the large-ish tail-lights as well. 

The proportions seem spot-on, though the further you go towards the front, the more generic the XE seems. It really is a blockier XF. Thankfully, then, the XF is still one of the best-looking cars in the large sedan class, so the same should translate to XE. 

If only there were a greater visual nod to that great 1980s Falcon of the same name…

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Trent Nikolic: Hit

The new Jaguar XE is more coupe-like than even the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. And I consider that car a styling winner.

The front three-quarter angle is the XE’s best, with an aggressive headlight design that suits the grille and proportions perfectly. Likewise side on, where the XE has a sleek, curvaceous look.

The rear is more safe than avantgarde, though. It needs more signature Jaguar design language — you’ll need to check the badge to know exactly what you’re following. I’ll need to take a closer look in the metal too, but the interior also looks like a great place to be.

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Mike CostelloMiss

Perhaps a trifle safe. It’s a sharp and sporty looking thing sure, with sporty proportions thanks to those tight overhangs, some sharp parallel character lines down the side and that mean creased bonnet.

Small touches such as the way the shoulder line carries forward and down over the wheel arch and into the front diffuser adds some visual toughness, though I have to say I find the tail lights overly conventional. 

Ultimately, despite its nice proportions and lines, it certainly doesn’t move the design game forward for the brand, does it? It’s very reminiscent of its XF big brother, not that there’s much wrong with that. 

I find this conservatism disappointing given the drop-dead looks of the F-Type and the gorgeous designs coming out of sister brand Land Rover’s styling house. 

Is Jaguar taking the German road by making its design language more homogenous between models? Or is it playing it a touch safe because it knows how crucial this car’s volume is to its future success?

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Tegan Lawson: Hit

I’m tossing up between hit and miss. If I cover the front-end with my hand the rear-half looks good, and if I cover the rear-half with my hand the front-end looks good. From the three-quarter profile view though, I’m struggling to find a sense of cohesion in the overall picture. However, it has a strong stance at both the front and rear, and it exudes class. It’s understated, refined and elegant while maintaining design cues that are distinctly Jaguar. 

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Tim Beissmann: Hit

I’m feeling a lot of Audi influence in the XE. There’s the same ‘babushka doll’-style design strategy at the front, where the baby of the family looks very similar to the size-larger XF and XJ limousine – which, to clarify, I think is no bad thing.

I’m not sold on those tail-lights. They’re a bit too broad, too square, too… Audi A5/A7 Sportback. The overall body shape really works, though – low, sleek and dynamic.

It’s not love at first sight inside, however. The relationship between the dashboard and doors feels clunky, and I can’t help but think Holden Malibu when I look at that centre stack.

It’s the smallest of hits, like clipping the last peg of an aircraft carrier in a game of Battleship, but my eye says Jag has done just enough with the XE.

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David Zalstein: Hit

It looks like a Jag. Smooth, strong lines but inoffensive enough to please base BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 buyers.

The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class may look more ‘stylish’ but fans of the leaper and its associated ‘Britishness’ will no doubt find the XE a very tempting proposition based on looks alone … dynamics likely opening a whole new can of worms.

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Anthony Crawford: Miss

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Jaguar fan from way back, and a big supporter of the brand going head-to-head with volume sellers such as the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and all-new Mercedes-Benz C-Class, but do I think the XE has enough mojo to make a dent?

Not so sure. It’s just that I was expecting more: to be rocked like I was when the XJ and XF hit the streets, with such fresh designs that still look good years later.

These photos of the XE depict the car as a smaller version of its mid-size XF sibling, but not as well-proportioned. And I’m not sold on the rear styling; it’s too plain and doesn’t have that hunkered-down stance of the XF. In the end, the XE needs serious ‘Wow’ factor if it is to conquest sales from the big-selling German marques, and I’m not sure this design delivers enough of it.

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James Ward: Hit

The front is very aggressive and very Jag – I love it, while the wheels and low side skirts also look fantastic and very sporting. The rear quarter looks OK but some of the photos make the tail look very short, plus the tail lights look pretty cheap. That said, the high angle shots do make it all work quite well.

Rear seats seem very tight and the interior looks a generation behind current Benz and BMW offerings, plus the hidden air vents were a bit of a stand out ‘cool’ feature of the XF and this interior is very conservative by comparison.

I’m disappointed they have toned down the ‘Jag’ in it – but arguably the XF was already toned down.  Very keen to see it in the metal, but overall for me it is a hit… just.

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Overall verdictHit

Well, there you have it – the majority of the CA team has voted in the affirmative for the brand-spanking Jaguar XE.

There’s always the argument that pictures don’t always tell the full story, and we can’t wait until later this year when the car is launched locally to get our collective eyes on the car.

In the meantime, tell us if you consider it to be a Hit or a Miss below. Go on.




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