The XE is based around Jaguar’s next-generation all-aluminium roadster platform. The production version will be 4.3 metres long — 450mm shorter than its XK sister car due in 2014. However, it will be almost as wide as the bigger car. This is because of the large transmission tunnel demanded by the rear-drive layout and the minimum crush space required to meet side impact regulations.
Most of the length reduction of the XE has taken place in the chassis structure — in the space behind the front seats and ahead of the rear wheels. Ironically, as our scoop picture of the first engineering mule clearly shows, the resulting short-rear, long-bonnet proportions are a clear reflection of the original E-type.
Today’s XK cabriolet weighs a hefty 1700kg in its lightest specification. Jaguar’s next-gen sports car platform will be lighter, although it will still use a combination of pressed and riveted aluminium panels, backed up by large aluminium extrusions. The extrusions underpin the centre section of the car and provide rigidity for the open-top version. The upshot is that the XE should weigh just over 1500kg, around 50kg more than today’s Boxster.
While the concept version of the XE will be a roadster, it is not yet clear whether Jaguar will also invest in a coupé. The Porsche Cayman, which is a hard-top version of the Boxster, has not been a sales success with the buying public, despite being one of Porsche’s best-handling cars.
The XE, which will be built alongside the next XK at Castle Bromwich, is expected to use V6 petrol engines in normally aspirated and supercharged forms. A turbocharged four-cylinder petrol unit is also being considered. Combined with the XE’s aluminium construction, an eight-speed automatic gearbox and stop-start technology, this latter engine should deliver remarkable economy and CO2 figures for a car in its class.
A V8 is to be reserved for an extreme-performance range-topping model due to be released shortly after the initial XE launch. Whether there will be a diesel option is not clear.
The biggest question mark is over what to call the XE, which itself will be part of a revised naming strategy for Jaguar’s future cars. At present, there is reluctance from some within the company to give the XE E-type badging because of the associations with the original.
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