Jaguar Lays Out Specs, U.S. Launch Plans for New XE Sport Sedan

American debut delayed a year.

by on Oct.01, 2014

The new Jaguar XE won't reach the U.S. until Spring of 2016, but will arrive with a full range of engines, as well as rear- and all-wheel-drive.

Jaguar will wait until spring 2016 to bring its new XE sport sedan to the U.S., a full year behind the global launch of the new compact model, but it means that Stateside buyers will be offered a nearly full range of diesel and gas powertrains – as well as the all-wheel-drive system likely to be critical to ensuring the Jaguar XE’s appeal in cold weather regions of the American marketplace.

Following up on an early, invitation-only preview in London last month, Jaguar will be giving the public a first close look at the all-new XE at the Paris Motor Show, which begins with a media preview this week.

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The XE is arguably the most important new product Jaguar has launched in years, at least from a volume perspective, targeting one of the globe’s fastest-growing market segments.

Describing it as “the new custodian of the Jaguar DNA,” Chief Platform Engineer Nick Miller said the XE is intended to be “an accessible Jaguar attracting a new audience to the Jaguar brand.”

This cutaway reveals the lightweight aluminum construction of the new Jaguar XE.

The sedan is based on an all-new, flexible architecture that could eventually serve as the platform for a variety of additional models. Indeed, Jaguar earlier this year showed a concept crossover vehicle that may join the line-up as Jaguar’s first “ute” later in the decade.

But the initial product will be a coupe-like sedan relying on a lightweight aluminum body and monocoque chassis. The XE will mark Jaguar’s return to the critical compact segment after a several year absence. The previous offering, the old X-Type, was a critical failure that never developed the market momentum Jaguar had hoped for while under the ownership of Detroit-based Ford Motor Co.

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The XE is the first vehicle developed entirely under the stewardship of new owner Tata, the Indian automotive wannabe. Tata has been investing heavily in both Jaguar and sibling British brand Land Rover in a bid to become a serious contender in the global automotive market. Just updating and expanding the Solihull assembly line and a new Jaguar engine plant have cost over 2 billion British pounds, or roughly US $3.5 billion.

An infographic on the base Ingenium diesel - numbers reflect European testing an a British 5-quart gallon.

The Wolverhampton engine plant will help Jaguar further break its ties to Ford, serving as the production source for an all-new line of so-called Ingenium four-cylinder engines.

Jaguar powertrain engineers were given a tough mandate, the need to balance performance with fuel efficiency. Preliminary figures suggest they have come in on target when it comes to mileage and emissions.

In European trim, the base 161-horsepower 2.0-liter diesel will yield a full 75 mpg – on the 5-quart British gallon – and produce just 99 grams of CO2 for every kilometer of driving. It’s not easy to convert that to American specifications, but Jaguar officials suggest a target of a “class-leading” 40 mpg or higher.

There will be a second version of the Ingenium diesel making 177 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque, and producing about 10% more CO2, which would suggest a roughly commensurate decline in mileage.

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There will be three gasoline engines, meanwhile, including two Ingenium turbocharged fours. The base version will produce 197 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, the mid-range package 236 hp and 250 lb-ft.

Also available, exclusively in the S-trim version of the new Jaguar XE will be a 340-hp 3.0-liter V-6. That supercharged engine will be shared with the Jaguar F-Type sports car and supplied by Ford.

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Two gearboxes will be available, a 6-speed ZF stick and an 8-speed ZF automatic. The manual won’t be available immediately upon launch in the U.S., but American buyers will get a choice of either rear-drive or AWD, something critical to the car’s success, according to U.S. marketing chief Kim McCullough.

“We wanted to be able to launch with all the various specifics…and all-wheel-drive is a required element these days,” said McCullough, especially in Snowbelt regions of the country. As for the delay of the manual gearbox, she suggested the so-called “take rate” is likely to be so small as to have an insignificant impact on sales.

Jaguar isn’t revealing what its sales targets are, but it notes the Solihull plant will have the ability to roll out a new vehicle every 78 seconds. That would include both the XE and a new Land Rover model – as well as future variants sharing the lightweight XE architecture. While that wouldn’t be enough to put volume into BMW or Mercedes-Benz territory, it could mean a major boost for the British maker as it pushes to become a serious player again in the global luxury market.

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