When Tata bought Jaguar in 2008 from a struggling Ford Motor Company, the once proud Great Cat was on a respirator. Many wondered if the Indian multi-national conglomerate had the wherewithal to maneuver the finer nuances of an historic luxury brand. Then, Ratan Tata vowed to do whatever he could to bring Jaguar back to prominence, injecting more than 5 billion dollars into the company and its Land Rover brethren. The results, thus far, have been nothing less than remarkable.
Leading the resurgence has been Jaguar’s brilliant F-Type, one of the finest engineered roadsters (and coupes) on the market. You might’ve seen us take it across the Italian landscape last summer. You also might’ve seen their adverts with famous British actors proclaiming, “It’s good to be bad,” and in the case of the sinister F-Type, that’s most certainly the case. But it’s not just in pulse-quickening passion vehicles that Jag has been excelling — in 2012 they leapt in J.D. Power’s standard-setting quality ratings from 20th place to second, beating everyone but Toyota. Keep in mind this is from a brand whose reliability for decades made Fiat look downright sturdy. So it’s not just sizzle; Jaguar is re-establishing its reputation from the paws up.
On Monday, Jaguar unveiled the next major artillery in its quest for resurgence: the XE.
And to do so they went full throttle. At a lavish, full capacity affair in central London’s Earl’s Court — hosted by John Hannah with Emeli Sandé, Kaiser Chiefs and Eliza Doolittle lending their musical talents — Jaguar invited media from across the globe to witness the first sighting of a car that aims to be one of Jag’s best selling vehicles.
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“The stiff chassis should lay the foundation for outstanding vehicle dynamics…”
As the brand’s entry into the brutally competitive luxury sport sedan segment — where it will battle the likes of the Audi A4, Lexus IS, Infiniti Q50, Cadillac ATS and BMW 3- and 4-Series — the XE will clearly have its work cut out for it.
So here’s what we know:
In Europe the base XE will be powered by a 2.0-liter turbodiesel, the first of Jaguar’s new Ingenium line of engines. Capable of an eyebrow-raising 75 mpg (in European ratings), the turbodiesel will be the most efficient engine Jaguar’s ever built (it also boasts 99g/km CO2 emissions). No word yet if that engine is coming stateside, however.
The base powertrain for the Americas remains unknown, and since the XE will not hit our shores until 2016 we might have to wait quite a bit to find out. But what we do know is the high-performance XE-S model (pictured here throughout) will pluck its engine directly from the heart of the F-Type V6-S. The 3.0-liter V6 features a twin-vortex supercharger, a truly nefarious powerplant that’ll supply a 0-60 mph time of just 4.9 seconds, with an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
Ushering in a new era for Jaguar, the XE will also be the first vehicle to use their all-new aluminum-intensive architecture. Engineered to be modular, the architecture offers Jaguar a great amount of flexibility in swapping out engines and transmissions. Reinforced with high-strength steel in strategic locations, the chassis — 20% stiffer than the current XE — promises to be the “custodian of the Jaguar DNA”, as execs gushed.
Not only does the stiff chassis lay the foundation for outstanding vehicle dynamics, but it should keep ambient noise to a minimum. And like the exquisitely balanced F-Type, the XE boasts ideal 50/50 front/rear weight distribution. Outfitted with double wishbone front suspension and Intergral Link rear suspension (usually only found on flagship luxury cars), the XE will target sports-car-level stiffness and agility.
Other points of interest:
Using recycled aluminum and 40 kg of recycled plastics on each car, Intelligent Stop/Start on all powertrains, Smart Regenerative Charging during coasting and with a dedicated ECO mode, the XE will have the lowest environmental impact of any Jaguar.
- Its drag coefficient (Cd 0.26) makes it the slipperiest Jag ever designed, aided by such touches as an underfloor diffuser, active cooling shutters and aerodynamically designed wheel arches.
- The XE will be the first Jaguar to offer a manual transmission since 2009. Otherwise its 8-speed ZF automatic with paddle shifters promises to deliver the right gear at the right time.
- Jaguar’s all new InCONTROL Infotainment system will make its debut, with zero carryover from previous cars. Centering around a fast HMI with 8” capacitive touch screen, InCONTROL features Bluetooth, USB, audio streaming, iPod connectivity and “plain speech” voice control. It will also allow you to bring either your iOS or Android smartphone into the car and feed directly into the display, with all apps accessed via the touchscreen. Individual drivers keep all their separate apps and settings — so you can use iTunes to play music with your iPhone, while your Galaxy-using girlfriend uses Google Play (both while charging your phone).
- Like some Audi and GM cars, the XE will create a mobile WiFi hotspot allowing up to 8 devices to connect simultaneously. As the antenna is roof-mounted, the connection will be better than on the phone by itself.
The well appointed interior of the brand new Jaguar XE-S
As can be expected from a luxury car of this segment, the XE will also come loaded with a suite of safety technology features: Lane Departure Warning, Park Assist, Parking Exit, Parallel and Bay Parking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Reverse Traffic Detection, Traffic Sign Recognition etc. Add in its aluminum-intensive chassis (and F-Type-donated powerplant in the S model), and the XE has what it takes to go head-to-head with the very best German and Japanese offerings. Plus, given the importance of emotion in the sport sedan segment, the XE receives a boost from the gorgeous Ian Callum-penned exterior design. It is arguably the best looking car in its class, an important characteristic for a segment propelled by passion.
Jaguar execs balked on commenting on how many cars they expect to sell, or even if this would be their best-selling vehicle (what with the recent unveiling of their the C-X17 Concept, the Great Cat’s first SUV). Only time will tell how well the XE will be received. Considering what Jaguar is offering, however, it’s safe to say the XE will scratch out a good chunk of the pie.