If asked to list the major luxury auto manufacturers, most will probably spew off BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and possibly Lexus straight from the hilt, as if conditioned. This is for good reason — it’s because BMW builds arguably the best luxury sedan (the 3 Series), Audi’s wagons are legendary, and Mercedes is good for everything between the CLA and the G65. But Jaguar is hoping get its name on that list, and to do so with the XE.
Jaguar has been competing in the larger sedan arena for some years now with the XF and XJ, which compete with the likes of the 5 Series and 7 Series, E-Class and S-Class, and A6 and A8. And while this is a worthwhile place for a company like Jaguar to be, the bread and butter of the luxury sedan segment is smaller, compact sedans in the $30,000 to $40,000 range. It’s sales of these that make it possible to finance the cool stuff, like the R8, i8, Mercedes-AMG GT, and more.
Jaguar has a fighter there — the F-Type coupe — but the company is walking on thin margins, and its low volume isn’t doing it any favors. In a bid to develop stronger cashflow, it’s releasing the XE, and it’ll be coming to the U.S. with two very compelling engine choices.
When the car hits showrooms in spring 2016, buyers will be able to discern between the XE 20d and the XE 35t. To casual folks, that may not sound sensical, but to the more automotive-minded, those letters carry some intense significance.
If you guessed “diesel” and “turbo,” you’d be right on one and close on the other. The XE 20d is a diesel-powered Jag sedan, the company’s first on this side of the pond. The company’s new Ingenium diesel is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four, which lays out 180 horsepower and a respectable 318 pounds-feet of torque. This will carry the baby Jag to 60 in 7.4 seconds, and onward to a top speed of 140.
The XE 35t, meanwhile, is powered by a 3.0-liter V6, though it’s supercharged, not turbocharged, as the lettering would indicate. For performance buffs, this is the model to have — it supplies the driver with 340 horsepower and 332 pounds-feet of torque, reaches 60 from a standstill in a scant 4.9 seconds, and slows only when it hits its limited speed of 155. Both models use an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The big news here is that Jaguar is bringing these models to the United States. And while American buyers have a fair menu of V6-powered European sport sedans, the diesel model is the real story: No other major luxury automaker offers a diesel option in the same bracket save for BMW. There’s no diesel A4, no C-Class, and no diesel IS, to say nothing of a diesel Caddy or Lincoln. It will be here to take on BMW’s 328d, however. If you’re going for gold, you have to shoot for the gold standard.
Finally, you’ll have the choice of all-wheel-drive on both vehicles, or rear-wheel-drive as standard. The XE will be available here in three flavors, ranging from Premium to Prestige and up to R-Sport at the top. Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but a high $30,000, low $40,000 base price is likely.