The release of the first virtually undisguised picture of Jaguar's new XE adds to the anticipation for this new model.
You may or may not be interested about the imminent arrival of the British company’s rival to the likes of the BMW 3-series and Mercedes C-class, but it’s a huge deal for Jaguar: an all-new car on an all-new platform, using all-new engines and one that’s likely to double its global sales. This same set of components will also spawn an SUV, taking sales forward even further.
But while we expect the XE to be good looking, have first-class tech and, as promised by insiders, come with best-in-class handling, this car will only be a hit on rational rather than emotional responses.
The XE will have to impress the UK’s gimlet-eyed contract-hire companies for a start. We know that there will be a 99g/km CO2 version but every cost has to be spot on for it to work as a company car.
Likewise, it’s got to convince a fiercely patriotic audience in Germany and it won’t do that just on the way it drives. And when it goes on sale in the US (after its European debut), if it isn’t mentioned in all of those super-cheap leasing ads that American car dealers specialise in, then it won’t work in that crucial market, either.
There's no doubt, though, that Jaguar has a right to compete in this world, and the small posh saloon market is poorer because there is currently only a German flavour to it. But Audi, BMW and Merc do brilliantly in the UK because the numbers are as attractive as the cars and their image. Let’s hope that Jag can get those right too.