Jaguar has returned to the Nürburgring with the upcoming XE for more performance tests, as the model enters the final stage of its development journey.

The XE will go on sale in the middle of next year, following its world debut at the Paris motor show in October. Destined to sit beneath the XF in Jaguar's line-up, prices for the XE are likely to start at around £29,000. 

The final design of the XE is already known, with the car's styling not straying too far from the look of today's Jaguar range, but featuring a more restrained and upmarket look.

The XE will be the first car in its segment to use an aluminium monocoque, and Jaguar says it is "set to be the most advanced, efficient and refined sports sedan in its class". The XE is the first product spawned from Jaguar's new architecture, which was showcased in the C-X17 SUV concept.

Jaguar has also confirmed the XE will be powered by 2.0-litre versions from JLR's new family of four-cylinder engines. The engine range will be called Ingenium and built at JLR's new engine plant in Wolverhampton. The engines will offer the flexibility to introduce models capable of 186mph as well as those with CO2 emissions below 100g/km. The engine family has been designed to work in transverse and longitudinal configurations and will enable the option to choose between rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. 

The XE will also be available with the same supercharged V6 engine from the F-type. The engine prouces 335bhp and 325lb ft of torque in the F-type convertible.

Autocar understands that the XE has a particularly sophisticated aluminium suspension set-up that is intended to help the car out-handle the BMW 3-series and finally make Jaguar a contender in the mainstream premium car market by way of its driving dynamics.

Jaguar boss Adrian Hallmark told Autocar that the key attributes of the 3-series rival must be that it is better to drive, feature more advanced technology and have a more alluring design than any of its rivals.

“The key has been getting the F-type at the heart of our range,” said Hallmark. “It stands for everything Jaguar is about and is utterly distinctive. It is the purest expression of what all our cars should be about. Now we must apply that strategy to forthcoming cars, including the baby saloon. The headlines of that car must be innovative technology, the most desirable design and a driving sensation that makes the car feel more alive than anything the opposition has to offer.”

“We have a view on how we can differentiate ourselves from them, and we believe that at the end of the scale Jaguar will sell in, which is traditionally the higher price point of the market, we can win customers by being distinctive, by avoiding being aloof and by standing for something that is just a little bit different.”

The Jaguar XE is expected to evolve into a full line-up of body styles, including an estate, coupé and convertible.

Additional reporting by Darren Moss, 20 May 2014

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