XE saloon: Jaguar's new 'baby' takes on the giants
JAGUAR'S new 'baby' the XE sport saloon is, they say, the most important car in their history.
There was a sense of new era when we got the Irish details at Carton House yesterday.
Taking on the likes of the BMW 3-series, Audi A4 or Mercedes C-Class is no small task, particularly after spending a lot of money to get it this far.
They've gone for an entry price to catch the attention, I think.
Prices start from €37,995 for the 163bhp 2-litre diesel. The automatic version starts at €40,410.
The 180bhp version kicks off at €39,100. It went on sale yesterday but will be followed shortly, we're told, by the headline-setting 163bhp version.
These engines are the first of the company's new Ingenium diesel family.
In the 6spd manual 163bhp version they have a claimed frugality of 4 litres/100km (75mpg) and emissions of 99g/km.
There is 2-litre petrol (a Ford engine) SE automatic which starts at €50,575 and for the real enthusiast they have the powerhouse V6 we know from the F-TYPE.
The new XE has a high percentage (75pc) of aluminium and is the first model developed from the company's new modular vehicle architecture.
The suspension is McPherson out front but it is the integral link at the rear that helps so much to make it a sporty drive.
In the course of a brief runout yesterday that bit of handling verve shone through.
It is, I believe, what is essential to make it competitive against the renowned handling prowess of the BMW 3-series in particular.
Usually such a set-up is confined to larger cars. In the XE it adds weight (off-set by the level of aluminium) but I think it was a strategy well worth pursuing.
While price is important, increasingly PCPs are playing an influential role in purchasing affordability. With this, they have a PCP which starts from €399.
And they have a free three-year service pack with each model.
Obviously, they are claiming their car is newer, fresher and all that compared with the opposition.
And they expect to take 10pc of that particular sector in a full year which is around 300 cars.
But seeing how it fares is going to be fascinating. This summer will give a foretaste of the real battle to come for 2016 when we'll have a brand new Audi A4 and revised 3-series.
Meantime, the Jaguar juggernaut picks up speed with a brand new XF later on and their first SUV, the Pace, coming for 2016.
And the large XJ saloon is getting an overhaul.