The all-new Jaguar XE sedan, which is being launched to the international media in Spain this week, is expected to attract up to a 95 per cent conquest rate – that is, new buyers to British luxury brand.
“It’s the first time, certainly for many years, that Jaguar has had an entrant in this segment, so we’re talking to a whole new group of consumers that have never been able to afford a Jaguar, therefore consider a Jaguar," said the company's global PR director Richard Agnew.
“We’re looking at people 35-45 in age – up and coming and aspiring managers who will now be able to consider a Jaguar." The success of this car isn’t just important (given the billions of pounds Sterling Indian-based owner Tata continues to pour into the JLR Group (rumoured to be 3.5 billion each year) – it's fundamentally critical to the brand’s ongoing survival.
Last year, Jaguar managed to sell around 89,000 cars, while BMW was able to shift more than 1.8 million units. Even more telling is that Porsche moved more SUVs than Jaguar did cars across its entire model range. Jaguar has also had to contend with its reliability hangover – a legacy that stretches back 30 years or more, but one that has largely been sorted of late.
In the last five years, Jaguar has placed within the top-five spots in the J.D. Power Quality and Ownership surveys – even beating off the likes of Lexus on occasion. The XE is, quite clearly, the most important Jaguar in years, and one that is charged with forging a sustainable future for the 80-year-old brand. But it won’t be easy. The XE will go up against the formidable German luxury trio comprising the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
To that effect, Jaguar has thrown everything it has at the XE’s development. For starters, it’s a clean sheet design; everything about this car is brand new. The new lightweight architecture is a 75 per cent aluminium monocoque – the first in class – and one that will underpin at least several new models including the F-Pace – Jaguar’s first ever crossover SUV due in 2016.
There’s also a new range of highly efficient ‘Ingenium’ turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, designed and developed in-house. The XE is also the lightest, stiffest and most aerodynamic Jaguar sedan ever built – with a Cd 0.26. It’s also the first Jaguar to get Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS), which Jaguar says has been tuned to deliver the same kind of feel as previous hydraulic systems.
The suspension systems are also new. There’s a double-wishbone setup at the front and an Integral Link system down back for the best possible ride and handling balance. New too, is Jaguar’s ‘InControl’ infotainment system with eight-inch touchscreen and a host of new applications and functionality, including remote start from outside the car using a smartphone.
Complete pricing and specifications haven’t yet been announced, though according to JLR Australia’s general manager of communications and marketing Tim Krieger, the XE will be “very, very, competitive and offer a compelling proposition against rival brands”.
By Anthony Crawford, CarAdvice.com.au •