Jaguar does not sell many cars. This is not a criticism or a subjective evaluation, just a fact. Through the first seven months this year, Jaguar moved only 9504 cars in the U.S., representing a mere 24 percent of Jaguar Land Rover’s combined U.S. sales volume. JLR has sold more Range Rover Sports this year than it has Jags. Among mainstream brands, Jaguar is dead last in sales unless you count Maserati and Smart, which we don’t. Even Tesla outsells Jaguar by a three-to-two ratio.
Long Road Ahead
Here’s how Jaguar Land Rover’s sales percentages in segments stack up to U.S. luxury-market-champ Mercedes-Benz’s. These figures reflect sales through the first seven months of 2014.
But this could soon change. Jaguar will finally rejoin the entry-luxury sports-sedan segment—the one it once tried toX-type—with the new XE, headed stateside in 2016. While it won’t put a number to its volume expectations, Jaguar is forecasting that the XE will be its bestseller. The company invested $2.5 billion in facilities to build the new model at its Solihull, U.K., plant.
The competition, including the BMW 3-series and the Mercedes-Benz C-class, accounted for some 350,000 cars last year. Jaguar rightfully figures it should be able to capture a reasonable share of that market with the XE, the first aluminum-intensive car in this class. Taking just 5 percent would double the brand’s 2013 sales. And remember: Once upon a time, Jag actually sold 20,000 to 30,000 X-types annually.
Aiming to succeed where Ford, its former corporate overlord, failed, Tata-owned Jaguar has developed a new platform for its smallest sedan. This is not a warmed-over Mondeo, as was the X-type, or a shortened XF. The predominantly aluminum architecture will form the basis for a whole range of products. Jaguar says the platform can scale all the way up to a large XJ-sized car, as well as underpin crossovers and SUVs.
The XE, however, roughly tracks the 3-series in size. Its 111.6-inch wheelbase adds an inch to the BMW’s number, and at 184.5 inches long and 72.8 wide, the Jag is 2.3 inches longer and 1.5 inches wider. Jag quotes a curb weight for the base European-spec diesel XE of 3250 pounds, or about 70 pounds lighter than a comparable Euro-spec 3-series.
The XE’s unibody, like the F-type’s, is made mostly of bonded and riveted aluminum, which accounts for 75 percent of a body-in-white that weighs just 553 pounds. Jaguar says much of this aluminum is a new alloy that is predominantly recycled. Aluminum is also prevalent in the suspension, including the forged front knuckles, rear toe-control links, and rear lateral links. The rear lower control arms and hub carriers are cast aluminum.
Also like the F-type, the XE uses unequal-length control arms for the front suspension, while the rear multilink suspension rides in a subframe that is rubber isolated to quell driveline vibrations. The XE will be the first Jag to use electrically assisted power steering, sourced from ZF.
The top-trim XE S makes its debut with the same supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 found in the F-type, giving 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. Jaguar says that’s enough power for the XE to dip under five seconds in the zero-to-60-mph sprint, on its way to a governed top speed of 155 mph. Lower-spec cars will come later, fitted with either of a pair of new 2.0-liter turbocharged fours, one gas and one diesel. Yes, we’re getting a diesel XE in the U.S., but Jaguar isn’t saying much more than that for now.
Europeans will be offered a diesel that makes 163 horsepower and 207 pound-feet, but ours will undoubtedly be more powerful, given the BMW 328d’s 180 horses and 280 pound-feet. Output for the U.S.-spec four-cylinder gas engine is also a mystery, but we’d expect it to at least match the 240 horsepower of the four currently used in the Jaguar XF. The new four-cylinders will be the first engines in the new “Ingenium” family shared with Land Rover, all based around a standard 500-cc cylinder.
A six-speed manual transmission will be offered in Europe, but a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic must suffice here, at least until Jaguar starts selling enough XEs to make a business case for the manual. Four-wheel drive will be available, something the XE was designed from the start to accommodate. While we’ve been told there are “no plans for a V-8 at this point,” Jaguar at least thought about it long enough to make sure that yes, one will fit.
Jaguar design director Ian Callum drew the XE. There’s a lot of XF in both the face and tail, though the smaller car has a cleaner look with less brightwork. Its greenhouse looks cribbed from the 3-series, and the broad headlights and wide mesh grille give the XE a long and low look. Callum obviously wanted the XE to be more conventional than the current XJ. Jaguar says the XE is its most aerodynamic car ever, with a coefficient of drag of just 0.26. We’re willing to bet that number wasn’t measured with the optional 20-inch wheels shown here.
Some Jaguar sedan elements found their way into the XE’s cockpit, such as the rotary shifter and the uninterrupted sill line that stretches from the tops of the doors around the base of the windshield. But you can also detect some F-type influence in the XE’s gauges and steering wheel. We wouldn’t be disappointed to see even more of the latter.
We’re grateful that Jaguar’s infotainment system, which has never been state of the art, gets a complete overhaul here. The new InControl system works with smartphone apps and features an eight-inch touch screen. Other new and notable equipment available in the XE includes a stereo-camera-based driver-assistance system that enables automatic braking, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and automated parking.
As much as we believe that performance and driving dynamics should determine the fate of a new competitor in this segment, the truth is that this other stuff matters to many buyers. And Jaguar needs as many of those as it can get.
2017 Jaguar XE Dissected: Chassis, Powertrain, Design, and More have 1025 words, post on www.caranddriver.com at 2014-11-05 17:09:26. This is cached page on Auto Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.