When: Europe in 2015, North American in 2016
Why: Jaguar aims for bigger sales with a smaller, more affordable car.
A small sedan could do big things for Jaguar sales. It’s no exaggeration to suggest that the Jaguar XE could double the brand’s volume, worldwide as well as in the States. Consider that BMW sold 119,521 3- and 4-series models here last year, nearly twice as many cars as Jaguar and Land Rover combined (66,962 units)—and that’s after all-wheel-drive versions of the Jaguar XF and XJ launched late in the year gave those sedans a big boost in the Northeast.
Jaguar, which is hiring 1700 workers to build the XE at its Solihull, England, assembly plant, clearly is playing the commodity luxury brand game while maintaining its core qualities of rakish design and sportier driving dynamics. Now that Jaguar is freed of its ties to the Ford Motor Company, its cynical attempt to enter the segment with the X-Type, an all-wheel-drive sedan and wagon based on the front-wheel-drive Ford Mondeo, is all but forgotten.
The Jaguar XE will be the first model to ride on Jaguar’s new aluminum-intensive architecture, which can be cut and sized to different wheelbases and overall lengths. The new small Jaguar will be offered with rear- or all-wheel drive. In fact, the Jaguar XE will force the next XF, the brand’s BMW 5-series competitor, to get bigger, with better space utilization and efficiency and more refinement when it is replaced, also in 2016.
Jaguar will unveil the XE design on September 8 and is expected to show it at the Paris auto show this fall before beginning sales in Europe by mid-2015. However, the North American market must wait a year for the car to go on sale closer to the next XF’s launch.
Volume engines for the Jaguar XE will be a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline direct-injection engine and, for Europe at least, a 2.0-liter turbo-diesel. Jaguar says these engines are new, so, presumably, the gasoline version will make more than the 240 hp in the Ford-derived 2.0-liter turbo in the current Range Rover Evoque. The company promises that the F-type’s V-6 will be available in the Jaguar XE, which probably means both the 340-hp and the 380-hp versions of the supercharged 3.0-liter will be offered.
The year 2016 will be a big one for Jaguar. Along with the North American XE launch and the next-generation XF, it will introduce a crossover utility vehicle previewed by the C-X17 concept from the 2013 Frankfurt show.