Jaguar’s reputation has been steadily on the up over the last few years with the British-based brand proving itself a dab hand at delivering stylish, sophisticated executive saloons like the XF and its bigger brother the XJ. Last year’s F-Type launch genuinely had journalists the world over on their feet with admiration and those effortlessly seductive looks had even the most steadfast Jaguar cynics drooling at the mouth. However, beneath the glittering, albeit fully merited, veneer there lurks a rather big 3 Series-shaped hole in the Jag line-up, one that has remained unplugged since the demise of the much maligned X-Type back in 2009.
All that is about to change though, as Jaguar has ended years of speculation by confirming plans to once again take the fight to the likes of the Mercedes C-Class, the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series with an all-new compact sports saloon named the XE.
Built around the bones of the C-X17 crossover concept debuted at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show, the XE will be the first production Jaguar model to showcase the company’s advanced new aluminium monocoque shell. This lighter and stiffer chassis has certainly received plenty of plaudits, so much so that it has inspired Jag with the confidence to claim that the XE will be the most advanced, efficient and refined sports saloon in its class. No pressure then.
What’s more, the XE not only gets an upgraded skeleton but also a brand new beating heart. Several weeks ago, Jaguar announced the introduction of a new range of lightweight, low-emission four-cylinder engines and it has now been confirmed that the all-new XE saloon will be the first model to benefit from this new generation of petrol and diesel powertrains, named Ingenium. Kitted-out with either rear or all-wheel drive, the new engines will be both efficient and powerful, hitting speeds of up to 186mph whilst mustering a mightily impressive 66mpg if driven with a bit of TLC.
The big cat is certainly entering the domain of some of the most fearsome predators in the motoring jungle but can it really beat the German goliaths at their own game? That judgement will have to be reserved until later in 2014 when full XE technical and trim spec is to be announced. Global roll-out commences in mid-2015.