FEA­TURE CAR

New Zealand Classic Car - - 2015 Jaguar Xe R-sport -

Jaguar prac­ti­cally in­vented the compact ex­ec­u­tive car in the Swing­ing Six­ties: its iconic Mk2 set the bench­mark that all other au­tomak­ers would fol­low. Of course, those heady days were well be­hind it when, in 2001, the com­pany at­tempted to reen­ter the mar­ket it had pi­o­neered with that Mk2.

Then op­er­at­ing un­der the aegis of Ford, Jaguar’s X-type was based on a plat­form shared with the Mon­deo. Al­though the new compact Jaguar — ini­tially only avail­able with all-wheel drive and pow­ered by ei­ther a 2.5-litre or a 3.0-litre V6 — looked stylish, the purists were unim­pressed by the X-type’s hum­ble Ford an­tecedents. And while most praised the car’s on-road abil­i­ties, for some, there re­mained the sneak­ing sus­pi­cion that Jaguar was rip­ping off pun­ters with an over­priced Mon­deo pimped up in a flash suit.

As such, X-type sales never climbed to the heights ini­tially pro­jected. The com­pany had planned to sell 100,000 an­nu­ally, but, at best, only half that fig­ure was ever achieved, with sales quickly sink­ing to even lower lev­els de­spite the ad­di­tion of diesel-pow­ered vari­ants and, a first for Jaguar, a stylish Ian Cal­lum–penned es­tate ver­sion.

In­dian com­pany Tata Mo­tors in­her­ited the X-type in 2008 when it took over Jaguar from Ford, but the car’s days were num­bered, with the fi­nal ex­am­ples pro­duced in 2009.

Then, in Jan­uary 2011, Jaguar in­ti­mated that it was work­ing on a re­place­ment for the X-type — an all-new sa­loon in­tended to take on the ma­jor Ger­man man­u­fac­tur­ers cur­rently on the lead­ing edge of the compact ex­ec­u­tive class.

So, is the new Jaguar up to the chal­lenge of tack­ling BMW, Mercedes-benz, and Audi head on? Be­fore we buckle up and take to the road in the all-new Jaguar XE to find out for our­selves, let’s look at some of the tech­ni­cal de­tails.

Skin­ning the cat

The XE range is avail­able in three lev­els — Pure, Pres­tige, and Sport — and fea­tures three dif­fer­ent en­gines: a 2.0-litre tur­bocharged four-cylin­der petrol unit and a 2.0-litre turbo diesel, with the top-of-the­line S uti­liz­ing the same su­per­charged 3.0-litre V6 as the en­try-level F-type.

While Jaguar’s Ger­man com­peti­tors merely dab­ble with the odd alu­minium panel, the fact that the Jaguar XE has a com­pletely alu­minium plat­form and the ma­jor­ity (75 per cent) of its body pan­els pressed in alu­minium makes for a gen­uine point of dif­fer­ence from its ri­vals. When ini­tially re­leased, the Jaguar XF was in­tended to fea­ture an all-alu­minium chas­sis, but Ford hit that idea on the head — as you might ex­pect, a length­ened ver­sion of the XE’S plat­form will also un­der­pin the next-gen­er­a­tion XF.

The XE’S sus­pen­sion — fully in­de­pen­dent via wish­bones up front and lat­eral links at the rear — also fea­tures alu­minium con­struc­tion.

The end re­sult is a stylish-look­ing sa­loon that, while fol­low­ing most cur­rently pop­u­lar de­sign trends, still man­ages to in­dis­putably look like a Jaguar — a neat trick.

Equally im­pres­sive is the XE’S beau­ti­fully trimmed cabin that suc­cess­fully blends thor­oughly mod­ern

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