This is the all-new XE with which Jaguar aims to challenge the BMW 3-Series saloon and its kind when it goes on sale in Europe and other markets in the first half of 2015, and from 2016, in North America as well.
Jaguar presented its rear-wheel drive car in a theatrical (literally) manner in Earls Court, London on Monday night, ahead of the car's world premiere at the 2014 Paris Auto Show in October.
It's a sleek, albeit somewhat conservative looking four-door saloon, and just to get the elephant in the room out of the way, the styling resemblance with the bigger XF is unmistakable, from the snout to the coupe-like roofline and the short tail.
Are there any differences? Sure there are, but in a what separates a compact from a mid-size Audi kind-of-way, like the more upright front grille, the slightly slimmer headlamps positioned closer to the ground, and the more prominent tail lamps.
Nevertheless, don't be ashamed to admit if you have to take a second or even third glimpse at the XE to make sure it’s not an updated XF.
"Our mission was to create an exciting and dynamic design clearly reflecting the XE's positioning as a serious driver's car," said Jaguar design boss, Ian Callum. "The cab-rearward proportions and tight packaging achieve that and give the XE the appearance of movement even when it's standing still. It bears a strong family resemblance to the F-TYPE and will stand apart in the crowd."
Inside, the design and the overall feeling looks strongly inspired from the F-Type, especially the dashboard and the dual-binnacle instrument panel, while there's a new infotainment system called "InControl" with an eight-inch touchscreen.
According to Jaguar:
"Jaguar InControl Remote functionality allows users of iOS and Android smartphones to connect to the car from wherever they are and control a range of vehicle functions. These include seven-day timed pre-setting of the XE's climate control system, locking or unlocking the doors, or starting the engine. Jaguar InControl Apps allows users to seamlessly access smartphone apps through the vehicle's touchscreen."
There's much more to the new XE than the design as it's Jaguar's first model designed around an all-new modular architecture with lightweight aluminum making up 75 percent of the structure, separating it from the competition, which still largely employs steel in its construction.
Most of the exterior is made from aluminum, including the hood, roof, front and rear fenders, and doors, while the rear floor and boot lid are made from traditional steel.
Jaguar says that the XE is the lightest, stiffest and most aerodynamic (Cd 0.26) saloon it has ever built - the XE S with a V6 weights 1,475 kg (3,252 pounds). It’s also the first model from Jaguar to be equipped with an electric power steering for improved efficiency – we'll have to see how this affects feedback.
The XE is 4,672mm long, 1,850mm wide and 1,416mm tall with a 2,835mm wheelbase, making it slightly bigger than the F30 BMW 3-Series in every dimension aside from height (-13mm).
Jaguar has chosen the XE to launch its newly developed range of Ingenium modular engines with a 2.0-liter turbo diesel inline four that promises to deliver up to 75mpg UK (62.5mpg US or 3.8l/100km) with super-low CO2 emission of 99g/km. It delivers 161bhp and 258 lb-ft (349Nm) of peak torque. More petrol and twin-turbo diesel versions will follow later on.
The second powertrain announced for the XE is the F-Type's 3.0-liter supercharged V6 with 335bhp (340PS) paired to an 8-speed auto for the sporty S model that returns a 0-60mph (96km/h) time of 4.9 seconds and an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph (250km/h).
Along with the regular rear-wheel drive versions, Jaguar is expected to release all-wheel drive variants as well.
Furthermore, besides the 8-speed automatic transmission, the XE will be available with a six-speed manual gearbox as well, but at this point, the British firm hasn't confirmed the engines it will be offered with.
Further details on the powertrain specifications should be released at the Paris Auto Show.
In the UK, the new XE will go on sale next May with a projected starting price of from £27,000.