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2017 Jaguar XE First Look: The Most Important Car in Jaguar's History

It's a new beginning. It's the most important car in Jaguar's history. It's being built in a new facility deploying the most advanced aluminum techniques in the world and is powered in part by an all-new engine family. These are just a few of the dramatic pronouncements Jaguar officials made here in Paris during the deep dive of the all-new Jaguar XE on the eve of the 2014 Paris auto show. The XE is a car that Jaguar believes will go head-to-head with the best midsize sport sedans in the world. It had better, as the stakes have never been higher for Jaguar and its future fortunes. The XE will launch in the U.S. as a 2017 model, likely in spring 2016.

On paper at least, the Jaguar XE has been developed with everything necessary to give it more than a fighting chance to succeed. It will come with 2.0-liter diesel (roughly 160 and 177 horsepower) and already available gas variants (200 and 240 horsepower) from the automaker's Ingenium engine family built at its new state-of-the-art engine plant, giving Jaguar complete control of its engine design, development, and manufacturing. Its already established 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 with 340 horsepower tops the line for now (Jaguar claims a roughly a 4.9 second 0-to-60 time), although we will no doubt see higher-spec super sport versions in the future along the lines of what Jaguar has unveiled with its R-line models. Intelligent stop-start will be available on all powertrains. Engines will be mated to either a six-speed manual (only for the diesel engine at this point) or eight-speed automatic, both sourced from the transmission experts at ZF and optimized for the XE.

Jaguar says the XE's aluminum-intensive body shell (more than 75 percent is aluminum) and monocoque (exclusive to its class) help make the car lighter and stronger than any modern production sedan in its history thanks to the utilization of a host of advanced fabrication techniques and state-of-the-art alloys, including for the first time the use of an alloy that employs recycled aluminum. It will also reportedly be among the most fuel efficient sedans in its class thanks to its intensive weight savings (roughly 3250 pounds in its lightest configuration), optimized powertrains, and aerodynamic profile. And behind all the advancements and brand firsts is Jaguar's desire to have the XE be the most impressive driver's car possible, which is the best news of all for enthusiasts.

In the U.S., the Jaguar XE will launch with both diesel and gas options, although it's unclear at this point which versions will make it here other than the 3.0-liter six-powered S trim, which is already available in several Jaguar offerings. The introduction of the diesel marks the first time Jaguar has ever offered a diesel engine in America and puts it on par with its German competition. The XE's rear-drive architecture has also been developed for all-wheel drive and both configurations will be offered in America when it arrives in about two years. The manual transmission won't be offered at launch but will become available eventually.

As for the XE's dynamic underpinnings, there's a double wishbone front and an Integral Link rear suspension setup, which Jaguar says is usually only used on cars higher in class. Jaguar says Integral Link offered its engineers the benefit of providing both sports-car handling and luxury ride characteristics in an effort to control lateral stiffness without compromising handling. In addition, there's an adaptive dynamics system highlighted by Bilstein continuously variable technology. The XE's ventilated disc brakes are roughly 13.8 inches front and 12.8 inches rear in highest spec configuration and are utilized as part of Jaguar's torque vectoring by braking system designed to help mitigate understeer during aggressive cornering.

Electric power steering is also used for the first time on a Jaguar, allowing for more options depending on the demands of driver. In an effort to assuage the purists, the automaker insists that it will have the same feel as a hydraulic setup, all while helping to slightly improve fuel economy.

The Jaguar XE also comes with a wide range of tech that will help keep the driver safer. A Jaguar first is its All Surface Progress Control, which manages power and braking over slippery surfaces. The system operates on its own without input from the driver, other than the steering. And as you'd expect, the Jaguar XE comes with a full suite of standard and available safety tech, including autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and reverse traffic detection.

Inside, the cabin space has been optimized for rear passengers, and all manner of sound deadening material has been applied to keep unwanted noise out, other than the engine snarl. A laser head-up display shows navigation, speed, and posted speed limits thanks in part to its stereo camera. The new 8-inch, capacitive touchscreen infotainment setup looks to be a big leap forward. Then there's the Jaguar inControl system, which will allow Android and Apple iOS phone users the option to plug into the system and display approved apps as you'd see them on your phone. A mobile inControl app allows you to remotely lock your car as well as heat it up or cool it down when necessary, and there are options in case the car is stolen. Other high-tech features include an improved Meridian sound system with 380 watts and 10 speakers, an available Wi-Fi hotspot, and updated voice command recognition.

Outside, the XE is instantly recognizable as a modern Jaguar, with multiple design cues that bring it in line with the bigger XF and XJ sedans, and elements that help aid airflow over the car and contribute to its low drag coefficient. Wheel sizes range from 17 to 20 inches and eight styles are available. The XE is also the slipperiest Jag in history, with a 0.26 cd rating, thanks to a flatter underbody. The rear end has also been constructed to increase downforce.

Some five years in the making, the XE is a car that Jaguar believes will finally make it a true global player in one of the most established and competitive segments in the automotive landscape. It's also a showcase for advancements that Jaguar will roll out across its vehicle line in the future. Now, all that's left to do is to drive it and see if it measures up.