As Jaguar New Zealand launches its all-new premium sedan, the XE, here it’s openly targeting BMW’s 3 Series and its customers.
Jaguar NZ’s national sales manager, Helen Sunley, said the British company was “delivering to the customers what the customers want”.
“One of our German competitors [BMW] has the phrase ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ ... but the XE surpasses the 3 Series,” she said.
The brand has been reinvented under new owners, Tata, and is already proving it’s a strong player in the luxury market thanks to the astonishingly good Jaguar F-Type coupe and convertible.
Now it’s time for the brand to concentrate on volume, not just voluptuous sports cars.
Jaguar is ready to pounce on the premium market with the XE and the XF large sedan, which was launched this month and arrives here next year.
The brand will also move into the ever-demanding crossover/medium SUV segment with the launch of the F-Pace, to be launched here mid-2016.
The Jaguar F-Pace SUV
But for now Jaguar NZ is concentrating on convincing Kiwis to add the XE to the list alongside segment leader Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi’s A4 and stalwart performer, the 3 Series.
Jaguar NZ is launching seven models, priced from $74,900 to $106,000, with three engines: the 20T 2-litre engine, 20d all-new Ingenium engine and, star of the line-up, the 3-litre V6 in the XE S.
All models will be paired with the company’s XF eight-speed automatic transmission, while the rear-wheel drives come with electronic power steering, and double wishbone front suspension.
Only the petrol models were available at the New Zealand launch because the diesel XE shipment docked a few days after the event. The 2-litre Ingenium diesel engine produces 132kW of power and 430Nm of torque, while the top spec 3.0-litre supercharged V6 (250kW/450Nm) is available from the F-Type line-up.
The XE has the EcoBoost 2-litre petrol engine (147kW/320Nm), but the replacement Ingenium petrol engine is due in 2017.
For Jaguar NZ’s product manager Paul Ricketts the XE will be the biggest seller for the company until the F-Pace arrives.
Ricketts wouldn’t talk sales volumes, but last year Jaguar registered 122 new vehicles and it’s easy to assume the company will double annual sales by the end of 2016.
“The majority of the XE customers will be conquest from BMW and Mercedes ... we haven’t been shy at targeting those companies,” said Ricketts. “The XE is different with its style and it’s driving dynamics.”
The XE makes extensive use of aluminium in the sedan. It has double wishbone and integral link suspension and gains autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, auto high-beam assist and a deployable bonnet that helps with pedestrian protection.
The XE takes some styling cues from the F-Type thanks to the side vents and “power bulge” on the large bonnet.
Inside, the XE has the F-Type’s steering wheel and cockpit feel, but its point of difference is the Riva Hoop that loops from the front doors to the top of the dash which is taken from the XJ and based on Riviera boats.
The Jaguar XE has the Riva Hoop on the doors and dash.
The hoop works well to create a dynamic look and breaks up the large expanse of black of the dash. When added to Jaguar-Land Rover’s user-friendly console with 20cm touchscreen, the XE’s interior matches the C-Class for style but easily beats the Mercedes and 3 Series for clean lines and simplicity of use.
The centre console of the XE is clean and user-friendly.
The only disappointment has to be the rear of the XE. The cluster of lights is too conservative when compared to the sedan’s large aggressive front grille with the iconic Jaguar’s head.
At pace on winding country roads, the 3-litre V6 won praise for its exhaust notes.
Taking on the 20t, you can dial in a sports mode and use the steering wheel paddles to flick through the gears to gain a responsive drive from the car.
Post-launch, Driven was given a week-long test of the XE R-Sport 20t, and the XE gained brownie points for the simple centre console. It’s an easy vehicle to live with during rush hour commutes — especially when you switch off the stop-start function.
Judging from the responses from passers-by and even owners of competitors, the XE is set for the customer who wants to stand out in the company carpark.