More information has come to light about the new Jaguar XE sports car, scheduled for launch in 2011/2012. The new Jag is likely to be based on a cut-down XK platform. In its most powerful form, the new Jaguar XE will feature a 450bhp V6.
The Jaguar XE (Jaguar has recently registered these letters as a trademark,) will be smaller than the Jaguar XK. As it’s easier to shorten the Jaguar XK’s extruded and cast aluminium frame than to adapt the XJ’s riveted and bonded chassis, it’s likely that the Jaguar XE will use the same basic platform as the XK.
Nevertheless, it will be quite a challenge to pare back the XK’s 4.79m length and 1.89m width to something approaching the 4.08m length and 1.78m width of the competing Mercedes SLK.
Jaguar also believes that it may be able to spin off other models from a longer wheelbase version of this narrowed platform, potentially providing scope to develop four-seater niche entries to compete in the compact premium segment.
The V6 will be new, derived from Jaguar’s new 5.0 litre V8 range. This engine programme has barely begun, though, and some at Jaguar believe that a downsized, supercharged four-cylinder engine might be a better solution, providing fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and weight advantages.
Ideally, the company would offer both engines to suit both the US and European markets. Jaguar would first have to find a supplier for the base architecture of a four-cylinder engine, however, as it makes little sense for Jaguar to develop this power unit on its own.
Jaguar has already enlisted the help of Lotus to develop the XE. Lotus is potentially able to supply expertise on the new model’s aluminium construction, its production feasibility and chassis dynamics.
Some sources suggest that Lotus could also manufacture the car, although Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich plant, which already makes the XK, would be the most obvious candidate for production.