With a bunch of brand new technologies, Jaguar is betting all its trump cards with the XE...
Undressing without any apprehensions, this Jaguar will soon be ready for the catwalk at the Paris Motor Show in October – and that’s because what the XE has to show under its bodywork is as interesting as it’s ‘dress.’ Its appearance as depicted here has a classic cut, English style – with smooth, essential, and sleek lines.
But, under the skin, this Jaguar has many trump cards that it’s not hesitant to flaunt ahead of the official launch – an aluminium monocoque, the first in its segment, four-cylinder high efficiency engines, and a modern infotainment system. In short, to be competitive again in this field of premium mid-sized cars, dominated by the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class, Jaguar knows that it has to be more than a little persuasive. This high level of competition requires very solid arguments. And this time Jaguar has them all.
Forget the past
With the X-Type, fourteen years ago, it was a bit more difficult to break away from the pack. So, while the model had the brand on its side, it didn’t have very much else. A pleasant design, for sure, but perhaps it was too ‘British.’ However, what was unacceptable to the purists was that, under the skin, it was not a Jaguar. It was, in fact, a Ford Mondeo. It was a blatant carryover (in other words, a transplant), and even Mondeo parts such as buttons were visible in the cabin. Unfortunately, in all the years that the British brand belonged to the American carmaker Ford, the synergies of logic and cost cutting prevailed over the protection of the DNA of the brand. Today, Tata is much more careful while they invest in the specificity of the Jaguar brand – if nothing else but for the fact that they don’t have their own models that they can share components with. If any synergies are possible, they seem more probable in the case of Land Rover rather than Tata. In fact, the Jaguar XE will be the first Jaguar to come out of the Solihull assembly line, which is the facility that churns out the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport – both of which have been converted to the lightness of aluminium construction.
The slimming diet arising from the aluminium structure should result in a great blow to overall weight. But, given that Jaguar is not willing to sacrifice on comfort and equipment, the overall effect on the scales will likely be neutralized. At Coventry, they whisper that the goal could be under the 1,500kg mark. However, it seems that this would only be possible in the entry-level versions of the car, while the ones equipped with more powerful engines would undoubtedly tip the scales a little higher – placing the XE not far from the rival of choice, the BMW 3 Series, whose mass is between 1,460 and 1,730kgs, and above the lightweight Mercedes C-Class, which starts from just 1,395kgs to finish close to the 1,600kg mark.
The XE also aims to be a real Jaguar on the road, with a blend of simple luxury and sporty appeal that exceeds the visible similarity with its older sister, the XF, while approaching the performance levels of the F-type – or at least looking in its direction for inspiration. For this, it will inherit some front suspension and dynamic control systems for the chassis, with the option to select different settings for the suspension – from comfort to sport. About the new four-cylinder engines, which will form the core of the car, there’s more detail in the technology box. Here, let’s just say that they will improve fuel efficiency, and lower (at least in some cases) carbon dioxide emissions to below the 100-grams-per-kilometre threshold.
Also expected are the presence of more modern driver assistance devices, from cameras to anti-collision systems. And also with regards to the human-machine interface, we expect to see a leap forward as compared with the more dated XF – although the XE will lie in a lower price bracket. Finally, even though it’ll come to you from one of the most classical of English brands, the XE seems destined to pay a tribute to fashion, and rumours indicate that it’ll be one of the most customizable models in its class.
Chassis And Engines, All New
The aluminium monocoque on the XE is not the only unprecedented item. This monocoque – incidentally – will be a base for other models as well, including the first Jaguar SUV (expected in 2016). The engine bay of the XE will also be fitted with an unusual family of four-cylinder engines, also made of aluminium – two-litre turbocharged, petrol and diesel engines – called Ingenium, which are also destined for the Land Rover line-up. The engines, with direct injection and variable valve timing, are designed in-house (which hasn’t happened since the 90’s) and they will be made at a new factory in Wolverhampton, UK. Children of a modular design, they can also be modified to create different variations of cubic capacity and are also adaptable to multiple layouts (rear or all-wheel drive, switchable or permanent), along with manual or automatic transmissions and with hybrid systems. About 80kgs lighter than the current V6, they employ all the latest technologies to reduce friction and increase efficiency.
With regards to suspension, the front of the XE adopts a multilink high wishbone, with different components in aluminium (similar to the F-Type). The rear will have a system known as Integral link. The system aims to improve handling and comfort at the same time, thanks to greater longitudinal flexibility.
The new generation steering – electric, with a motor on the rack – works in synergy with the stability systems to help the driver maintain control. Lastly, the All-progress surface control reduces slippage at the start by measuring the power transmitted to the rear wheels. The device, which works like a low speed cruise control, has been developed using Land Rover’s vast experience in four-wheel drive technology – another example of how deep the technical integration and productive interaction is between the two brands.
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