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Want a small, sporty executive sedan but don’t want to conform with the Germans? Find the Lexus IS a bit too edgy and the Volvo S60 a bit too Swedish? Well fret not as Jaguar have just revealed it’s new XE. This car is crucial for Jaguar. They’ve been out of this segment for a few years since the demise of the ill-fated X-Type. Since then they’ve had to rely on the entry level XF as their inexpensive starting point for their range. But the XE has a much harder task – this has to go up against the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, and Mercedes C-Class.

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It matches the Germans in size, Jaguar claiming the XE is larger than the 3-Series but slightly smaller than the A4. Thanks to a riveted and bonded aluminium monocoque chassis, the XE is said to be the company’s lightest, and most rigid sedan to date. The XE uses a lot of aluminium in it’s construction to keep weight down. It also uses rather special suspension with sports car-like double wishbone up front and a subframe-mounted independent rear suspension in the, erm, rear. The XE also comes with a clever All Surface Program Control (ASPC) which is essentially Jaguar’s version of Land Rover’s Terrain Response system. ASPC allows drivers to select from Eco, Normal, Dynamic, and Winter settings. I love how it has a designated “Winter” setting. You can definitely tell it’s a British car.

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From launch the XE will be available with petrol and diesel engines. The petrol engine will come in the form of the 335bhp supercharged 3.0-litre V6 from the F-Type capable of 0-100 km/h in 4.9 seconds, while diesel is a new 162bhp 2.0-litre four cylinder unit. The XE is the first Jaguar to adopt electrically assisted power steering. Both engines can be mated to a 8 or 9-speed ZF auto while a manual will be available for the diesel.

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Design-wise the XE certainly matches it’s rivals. It’s a good looking car and is immediately recognisable as a contemporary Jaguar. You can see influences from cars throughout Jag’s history in it’s design from today’s XF to the Mark 2. While I do think it looks good there are certain details which remind me of other cars. The headlights for example are reminiscent of the ones on the Ford Fusion while the taillights have a whiff of Audi A5 Sportback to them. I would’ve preferred F-Type style ones.

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Inside it’s more or less the same. It looks nice though not quite as shock-and-awe as something like a C-Class or even the Lexus IS. It has the same wraparound effect as the larger XJ sedan, which is a nice touch, and Jaguar Land Rover’s new infotainment system complete with a larger 8-inch display. But other than that it’s business as usual for a posh four door. Jaguar admit the XE won’t have class-leading space inside as they’ve gone for a style over space design. The long bonnet and short bum giving it good coupe-like proportions but not sedan-like dimensions.

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The XE also comes packed full of new tech as you’d expect for a car in this segment. It’ll come with Jaguar Land Rover’s new InControl system which allows the car to perform things through and from your smartphone. InControl has apps which can help with parking as well as allowing you to remotely control your car via smartphone. Should your XE get stolen you’ll also be able to track it on your smartphone. Just hope you don’t leave your phone in the car when it does get stolen. There also a heads-up display as well as several other fancy driver aids such as adaptive cruise control, autonomous city braking, and blind spot assist.

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The XE is expected to land in New Zealand sometime next year. More specs of the XE will be announced at the upcoming Paris motor show but on first impressions the XE seems like it’ll be a good seller Jaguar. Sales are expected to be in the 100,000 region. While it doesn’t blow the Germans out of the water design, interior, or technology wise, it does enough to be a viable alternative to them and for some that’s all they want. The aluminium chassis and double wishbone suspension would be interesting to see on the road. In my opinion I don’t think the XE has enough to get it ahead of the Germans though but maybe that’s not the point. Jag desperately needed a volume seller and the XE is the car for the job.

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