Jaguar makes a bold return to the fiercely contested compact luxury sport sedan class with its all-new XE.
Every major luxury manufacturer has a compact sport sedan, and the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series defines this segment.
The BMW 3 Series has long been regarded as the hallmark sport sedan mostly due to its driving nature. The 3 Series is the epitome of a driver’s car because it instills confidence in anyone who sits behind the wheel.
To combat the BMW, Jaguar started from scratch. The chassis of the XE is completely new, and currently it is not shared with any other model.
The XE’s new architecture is mostly aluminium, but Jaguar used steel where it counts. The result is a car that feels light on its feet and handles well.
Jaguar didn’t stop there as they spent considerable time and money on the suspension. Despite the fact that most manufacturers, including BMW, use MacPherson struts for their simplicity, the XE boasts double wishbones in the front and Integral Link suspension in the rear. What this does is better manage road imperfections to give more precise handling, while still offering a supple ride.
With the amount of effort Jaguar put into the XE’s chassis, it’s easy to overlook its engine. The XE will be powered by the same supercharged 3.0-litre V6 used in the F-TYPE. This should allow the XE to sprint to 60mph in less than 5 seconds.
Not only is it fast, but the exhaust sounds as great as it does in the F-TYPE. The one trade-off will likely be fuel economy.
To further enhance the XE’s driving dynamics, Jaguar worked extensively on its transmission as well. While it uses the almost class standard 8-speed ZF automatic – the same as the 3 Series – Jaguar has programmed theirs to give sportier gear changes. The XE is always in the correct gear so that you never need to pull the paddle shifters unless you want to. If you do want to always change gears yourself, a 6-speed manual will be available.
Complimenting the XE’s driving behaviour is its seductive looks. Jaguar employs Ian Callum, who is highly respected in the auto business for his highly expressive designs. The XE is his latest masterpiece.
I think it’s best to let Mr. Callum to describe his work himself:
“Great proportions and dynamic, edgy feel are at the core of Jaguar design. We wanted to create a strong sense of movement, and have given the XE a dynamic and purposeful look that is without compromise. Sleek, low, coupe-like exterior proportions combine with an efficient package that is instantly recognizable as a true Jaguar.”
The interior, too, is elegant and filled with dramatic features. You have to spend quite a bit of time in the XE to admire all the unique details. The highlight is the way the top of the doors seamlessly blend into the dash.
However, customers interested in this class of car demand more than just good looks. In this regard, Jaguar will offer plenty of standard equipment.
All XE’s will come with an 8-inch colour touchscreen that is very clear. The new InControl Touch infotainment system is very easy to use and responsive. Satellite navigation will also be standard.
The Jaguar XE does have some faults, though.
The front seats are mounted low and hug you securely to give a sporty feel, but rearward visibility is not great. Also, the base model XE comes with cloth seats, not leather.
Furthermore, tall passengers will find it difficult to get comfortable in the back seats. The middle-seat passenger has to deal with the large central tunnel and therefore has no foot-space.
Lastly, cargo space is not as good in the XE as it is in some of its rivals.
Overall though, it will be a very worthy challenger in the compact sport sedan segment. Achingly beautiful and a pleasure to drive, the 2016 Jaguar XE may be the new standard in this class.
Tell us what you think about the Jaguar XE. Can it steal the crown from the BMW 3 Series?