Read Autocar's Jaguar XE review
Jaguar Land Rover's 'factory within a factory' marks a £500 million investment in the plant, which includes Europe's largest aluminium body shop. This follows the firm's £1.5bn spend on new aluminium vehicle architecture which will underpin future Jaguar models.
The new saloon will head to its first customers in May and aims to take on the likes of the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4.
Priced from £26,995, the XE made its public debut at the Paris motor show last October. Three engines will power the car from launch. In its most frugal form, the XE will be capable of returning 75mpg with CO2 emissions of 99g/km. In comparison, a Toyota Prius 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid T4 emits 92g/km of CO2.
The key to making a dent in the important fleet market is keeping servicing and running costs similar to that of rivals. Residual values are set to be highly competitive, with industry valuation companies Kee Resources and CDL agreeing the XE will be better, over three years or 30,000 miles, than its direct German rivals. Industry valuer CAP predicts the Jaguar XE will retain 45% of its value over the same period, placing it ahead of the equivalent Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series models.
As a result, Jaguar is pushing fixed-cost servicing options for the diesel models; a one-off payment of £475 will cover all servicing for up to 50,000 miles or five years, depending on what comes first. High-mileage drivers can pay £659 for up to 75,000 miles over the same five-year period. The service plans are transferable between owners if the car is sold and cover costs associated with securing MOT certificates for years three, four and five. Equivalent service plans for petrol models are expected in due course.
Jaguar has given the XE an impressive range of technical innnovations - including a new chassis, materials, body, assembly works and engine plant. The XE’s success has huge implications for Jaguar’s ability to fulfil its new model plan of the future, believed to include as many as half a dozen ‘white space’ vehicles.
The car's design does not set out to shock, however. It employs and extends the new-generation Jaguar design style introduced with the XF saloon in 2008 and developed more recently in the F-type sports car range.
An all-aluminium, four-door, rear-wheel drive saloon, the XE's proportions place it at slightly bigger than a BMW 3-series, but smaller than an Audi A4. It uses new riveting and bonding techniques designed to make it the lightest and stiffest Jaguar saloon yet.
Tipped to sell well over 100,000 units per year when production reaches full capacity, the XE will become Jaguar's entry-level model.
Jaguar has had more than half a million people configure XEs on its website, which is around one in 10 of total visitors. Of those, it has around 150,000 people ready to order, according to global brand director Steven de Ploey, and interest is comparable to that of the Land Rover Discovery Sport, a model with a much wider potential customer base.
Jaguar XE design and styling
Design boss Ian Callum says that the new Jaguar XE will become “the defining sports saloon for Jaguar”.
His design team’s way of fulfilling that brief, he explains, was to start by giving the car a low driving position, a long, coupé-like roofline like the XF and placing the cabin as far rearward as possible to allow the car a long bonnet and short boot while still providing decent (although admittedly not class-leading) legroom and headroom in the rear.
Callum acknowledges the debt that the XE owes to the XF, which pioneered many facets of Jaguar’s modern design style: the sculpted bonnet with strong ‘power bulge’, the narrow headlights and ‘J-blade’ running lights, the rising waistline and long, confident curve of the coupé roof.
The rear lights he describes as “a horizontal line intersecting a roundel” and they owe something both to the F-type and originally the E-type, just as the rounded window of the rear door carries suggestions of the Jaguar Mark 2.
No one would suggest that this was anything but a Jaguar for 2015, but allusions to the marque’s rich history are clear in many places. Jaguar’s designers are proud of their equal partnership with the XE’s engineers and aerodynamicists.
In its most frugal form, on specially designed 17-inch wheels (as opposed to the 18s, 19s and 20s also available), the car’s drag coefficient is an impressive 0.26. The car’s lowness and shrink-wrapped lines have helped to keep the frontal area low, designers say.
Jaguar XE chassis and suspension
The XE is very close in all major dimensions to the A4 and 3-series (which are literally within a few millimetres of one another). It sits between the German pair in overall length, but its wheelbase is about 25mm longer than either, and it sits about 15mm lower on its standard suspension.
However, its secret weapon is a riveted and bonded aluminium monocoque body structure, currently made partly of a recycled alloy that the company wants to use for 75 per cent of suitable components by 2020.
That structure weighs 1474kg in its lightest form - just 21kg less than the equivalent 3-series, which clocks in at 1495kg. At the car's public unveiling at the Paris motor show, Jaguar's chief programme engineer Nick Miller explained that the XE is 75 per cent aluminium and 25 per cent steel, and therefore not as light as it could be, partly for reasons of weight distribution, and partly because there would be no fiscal benefit advantage in achieving a lower CO2 number than the car already has.
The bootlid and the rear section of the floor up to the leading edge of the rear seat cushion are steel in order to benefit weight distribution, which is 50:50 in the case of the four cylinder and 51:49 front:rear for the V6-engined version.
The doors are also steel, although Miller says that they could become aluminium if necessary.
Miller said that some of the weight-savings have been ‘spent’ on more sophisticated and heavier front and rear suspension layouts in the quest for dynamics superior to the Jaguar’s competitors.
The XE is said to have the most sophisticated suspension in its class to support a claim that it will establish new class benchmarks for ride and handling.
Where others use efficient, affordable MacPherson strut suspension up front, the XE has a widely spaced double wishbone layout (complete with the characteristic ‘goose neck’ upright similar to that used for the XK and XF) that delivers superior wheel control but costs more.
The subframe-mounted independent rear suspension is even more exotic: not a conventional multi-link system but instead dubbed Integral Link, for cost reasons usually seen on cars in the XF price range, that delivers ideal lateral stiffness for fine handling but allows considerable longitudinal compliance to build refinement, while keeping excellent toe control.
To minimise unsprung weight and provide best ride comfort, all of the major components are made in aluminium. Depending on the engine’s power output, there are three different disc brake sizes – all with new-design single-piston calipers – and a choice of four wheel sizes (and eight alloy wheel designs).
The XE is the first Jaguar in history to use electric power steering, a move described as “a big step” by Mike Cross, the chief engineer charged with ensuring that every XE drives like a real Jaguar.
“It’s a step we took confidently,” says Cross, “because the range of possibilities in fine tuning enabled us to achieve the responsive, connected steering feel a Jaguar needs.”
The XE’s chassis package utilises intelligent technologies more than any previous Jaguar. The car takes the learning from Land Rover’s Terrain Response system and adapts it to become ASPC (All Surface Progress Control), which lets drivers select one of four ideal settings: Dynamic, Normal, Eco or Winter.
Between 2mph and 20mph, the Winter setting provides a kind of low-speed cruise control that helps the car to climb very slippery slopes by applying precise control of the throttle and braking (including side-to-side braking) to maintain traction better than the best driver could manage.
Also available is a suite of the electronic driver aids that are becoming more and more common in premium cars: autonomous braking, adaptive cruise, parking assist, reverse traffic detection, blind spot monitoring and road sign recognition.
Jaguar XE engines and transmissions
Included in the engine line-up are two new four-cylinder Ingenium EU6 diesels and two four-cylinder petrol units, as well as the 3.0-litre V6 engine found in the F-type in the XE-S. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard on the diesels, with an eight-speed automatic optional. The auto is standard on each of the petrol engines. Rear-wheel drive is standard.
The base 161bhp/280lb ft 2.0-litre diesel offers class-best
fuel economy of 75mpg with CO2 emissions of 99g/km in manual form, or 71.7mpg and 104g/km as an automatic. The auto cracks 0-62mph in 8.2sec, dropping to 8.4sec with the manual gearbox.
A 178bhp/316lb ft version of this engine is also offered, with 67.3mpg, 109g/km and 0-62mph in 7.8sec claimed with either gearbox.
Features of the new Ingenium engine - which has been designed from a clean sheet and built for light weight and low friction in Jaguar Land Rover’s new £500 million factory – include variable exhaust cam timing and exhaust after-treatment so that it can meet latest Euro 6 emissions standards.
Petrol XEs use a 2.0-litre turbocharged unit shared with the XF and XJ (although not in the UK) and offered with outputs of 197bhp/206lb ft or 237bhp/250lb ft. The former cracks 0-62mph in 7.7sec, returns 37.7mpg and emits 179g/km; the latter matches the economy and CO2 but promises 0-62mph in 6.8sec.
The 3.0 V6 XE has outputs of 335bhp and 332lb ft to propel it from 0-62mph in 5.1sec and on to a limited 155mph. The XE S is rated at 34.9mpg and 194g/km.
Jaguar XE interior and equipment
The XE’s cabin is designed to project quality, but despite being more spacious in the front than previous Jaguar models is still relatively compact.
Ultimately, cabin space has given way to sporting pretensions. At first glance, the cabin lacks the distinction of the C-class, but it has a deep centre console that affords a pleasant, driver-focused aura and buyers get a choice of textures and aluminium or piano black dashboard finishes as alternatives to traditional wood veneers.
There is an all-new infotainment system called InControl, based around an eight-inch central touchscreen claimed to feature intuitive graphics and quick responses. The XE's infotainment system can also be connected to the owner's smartphone via an app, which enables drivers to start and pre-heat the car - while it remains locked. This can be upgraded to include wi-fi hotspot and various other smartphone compatibility functions.
The XE is offered in five trim levels: SE, Prestige, Portfolio, R-Sport and S. Entry-level SE and mid-range Prestige are only available on the diesels and base petrol model, while Portfolio, the most luxurious, is offered on the diesels and the 237bhp 2.0 petrol.
R-Sport, Jaguar’s answer to BMW’s M Sport, includes a suspension upgrade and is offered only with the 178bhp diesel and 237bhp petrol. S trim is reserved for the V6 XE and includes sportier exterior styling and 20in alloys.
Standard kit on the XE includes sat-nav, DAB radio, cruise control, Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Departure and 17-inch alloys. Alloys up to 20 inches are also offered.
Inside, the XE features an optional 40/20/40 split for the rear seats, which can be heated, and a new eight-inch touchscreen that controls Jaguar’s new InControl multimedia system. Multiple trims and colours
can be specified, including sporty carbonfibre and luxurious wood veneer.
Q&A with Ian Callum, Jaguar design boss
What does this car’s design have to achieve?
The Jaguar XE’s number one job is to be visually exciting. Just because it’s the entry model doesn’t mean it shouldn’t embody all of the marque’s values. If you think about it, this is the defining sports saloon for Jaguar, given its lowness and compact dimensions.
Did the fact that the XF had pioneered the look of a new Jaguar help you?
It did. People understood it as soon as they saw it. The two cars are very different,
but we used some of the XF’s devices – the grille’s a good example – because people away from our market still need to learn more what a Jaguar is
like. We discussed changing
the face [which is more upright and prominent] but decided
to do something fresh but
What part are you proudest of?
I like the way we managed to get an exciting profile into a car that belongs to a pretty pragmatic class. This is a very unforgiving market.You can’t be bad at anything, so we had to offer the same package as the competition – which we’ve done. I’m pleased the XE’s profile leaves no room for doubt that it’s a member of the Jaguar family. But I also like the strip brake light, over the rear window. It works fine, but it doesn’t intrude at all.
What involvement did you
have in the delivery of the low drag factor?
We all work together – engineers, designers and aerodynamicists. It’s a consensus. Everyone wants the car to look as good as it can so it’s a success in the market. In any case, there’s a fair bit of basic expertise in design departments about aerodynamics, so we tend to understand what they need.
What were the hardest things
Funnily enough, getting the
four-cylinder engine under the XE bonnet was a tough task – harder than fitting a V8. It’s no shorter and sits bolt upright, and there’s lots of stuff on the top of a modern engine.
The power bulge helped, but we couldn’t have done it without our pop-up bonnet, which gives the clearance over the engine needed if the car collides with a pedestrian.
Q&A with Alan Volkaerts, operations director at Jaguar Land Rover's new Solihull plant
In six years, you’ve seen extraordinary expansion at Solihull. What’s happened?
The Tata acquisition of JLR led first to the establishment of the Range Rover aluminium body shop, then the biggest in Europe. Now we’ve opened the XE-Range Rover Sport shop, plus a trim and final shop to go with it – at an all-in cost of £1.5 billion. We’re making Jaguars inside Solihull, the first time that’s happened in 70 years.
The latest body shop is bigger again, right?
It’s about twice the size of the Range Rover shop – as big as 12 football pitches. Our new trim and final assembly hall is big, too – another 10 pitches.
And you’re hiring new people, aren’t you?
We have 500 new employees so far, and we’ll eventually need 1700 to make XE in the projected numbers. People are talking about new tools in the process called trunnions.
What do they do?
They speed the manufacturing process, increasing flexibility and future-proofing the plant for when it might make even more models.In essence, a trunnion is a huge, five-sided rotating jig that presents parts to a robot, instead of vice versa. When everything’s working to capacity, we’ll make a car every 78 seconds.
See below for a full pricing breakdown of the Jaguar XE
Jaguar XE 2.0d 163PS
0-60mph 7.9sec (manual), 7.7sec (auto); Top speed 141mph (manual), 132mph (auto); Power 161bhp; Torque 280lb ft; Economy 75.0mpg (manual), 71.7mpg (auto); CO2 99g/km (manual), 104g/km (auto)
Jaguar XE 2.0d 163PS SE From £29,775
Jaguar XE 2.0d 163PS Prestige From £30,775
Jaguar XE 2.0d 163PS R-Sport From £32,325
Jaguar XE 2.0d 163PS Portfolio From £32,975
Jaguar XE 2.0d 163PS SE Auto From £31,525
Jaguar XE 2.0d 163PS Prestige Auto From £32,525
Jaguar XE 2.0d 163PS R-Sport Auto From £34.075
Jaguar XE 2.0d 163PS Portfolio Auto From £34,725
Jaguar XE 2.0d 180PS
0-60mph 7.4sec (manual and auto); Top speed 142mph (manual), 140mph (auto); Power 178bhp; Torque 316lb ft; Economy 67.3mpg (manual and auto); CO2 109g/km (manual and auto).
Jaguar XE 2.0d 180PS SE From £30,275
Jaguar XE 2.0d 180PS Prestige From £31,275
Jaguar XE 2.0d 180PS R-Sport From £33,025
Jaguar XE 2.0d 180PS Portfolio From £33,675
Jaguar XE 2.0d 180PS SE Auto From £32,025
Jaguar XE 2.0d 180PS Prestige Auto From £33,025
Jaguar XE 2.0d 180PS R-Sport Auto From £34,775
Jaguar XE 2.0d 180PS Portfolio Auto From £35,425
Jaguar XE 2.0i 200PS
0-60mph 7.1sec; Top speed 147mph; Power 197bhp; Torque 206lb ft; Economy 37.7mpg; CO2 179g/km
Jaguar XE 2.0i 200PS SE Auto From £26,995
Jaguar XE 2.0i 200PS Prestige Auto From £27,995
Jaguar XE 2.0i 200PS R-Sport Auto From £29,745
Jaguar XE 2.0i 240PS
0-60mph 6.5sec; Top speed 155mph; Power 237bhp; Torque 250lb ft; Economy 37.7mpg; CO2 179g/km
Jaguar XE 2.0i 240PS R-Sport Auto From £33,095
Jaguar XE 2.0i 240PS Portfolio Auto From £33,745
Jaguar 3.0i Supercharged 340PS S
0-60mph 4.9sec; Top speed 155mph; Power 335bhp; Torque 361lb ft; Economy 34.9mpg; CO2 194g/km
Jaguar 3.0i Supercharged 340PS S From £44,870
Read the Jaguar XE first drive review
Watch What Car?'s exclusive video preview of the new XE
Watch the Jaguar XE reveal video, and Jaguar's official launch film
Blog: Why the Jaguar XE has a mountain to climb
Blog: Setting the stage for the Jaguar XE in London
Blog: The XE might be Jaguar's star, but it didn't take the spotlight in Paris
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