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The compact executive sedan segment has been a rather predictable one for some time now.  If you wanted luxury, you bought a C Class, if you wanted understated achievement, you bought an A4, and if you wanted driver enjoyment and sportiness, you bought a BMW 3 Series.  Jaguar wants in though, and they aren’t aiming low when it comes to breaking into the stronghold of the ‘Big Three’ – they’re calling BMW out directly and are claiming their new XE to be the driver’s car in the segment.  Bold call Jaguar, bold call indeed!

To help the XE live up to this promise, Jaguar have spared no expense in the XE’s development.  The XE features an aluminium intensive monocoque chassis for weght reduction, as well as a majority of its body panels also being engineered from the lightweight metal.  They have however also added steel elements such as the boot-lid, to ensure than the XE has a 50:50 weight balance, something BMW once prided themselves on but has since rested on their laurels with.  Not to mention the XE is a front-engine, rear wheel drive sedan.

The XE has also been fitted with top-of-the-line suspension components, including double-wishbone front suspension – usually found on higher classed vehicles due to its expense, weight, and additional comfort and handling properties – and Integral Link rear suspension derived from that of the F-Type.

Of course, no 3 Series fighter could attempt the task without drivetrain components engineered to do so, and Jaguar has developed a new engine range to underline its attack on BMW.  The Ingenium engine range – currently the cornerstone of the XE’s diesel range – forms the base of the XE model line-up, available in two power and torque outputs, 120kW/380Nm and 132kW/430Nm, the former of which achieves an impressive 99g/km CO2 rating and claimed 3.1l/100km fuel consumption.

On the petrol-engined front, Jaguar will offer a 2-litre turbocharged 4-pot in 2 states of tune, either 147kW/280Nm or 176kW/340Nm.  This engine is currently in use in the larger XF, but the lightweight XE should make the most of the 4-cylinder unit.  Both the petrol and diesel 4-cylinder engines will be available with either a 6-speed manual gearbox or a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission – the same unit used by BMW.

Topping the current XE range, The Jaguar XE S will feature the 3.0-litre supercharged V6 engine found in the F-Type, developing healthy figures of 250kW and 450Nm.  Jaguar claim the XE S will perform the obligatory 0-100km/h sprint in 5.1s, with an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h.  Naturally, this leaves space for either an XE RS, or XE SVR with the supercharged 5.0 V8 from the F Type Coupe R, but time will tell whether or not the big V engine finds its way into the M3 fighter.

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Naturally, the XE will feature a host of technological bits and bobs, such as electrically power assisted steering, torque vectoring, heads-up displays, advanced safety features and what not.  Other tech available will include radar safety systems, adaptive cruise control, park assist and blind spot assist.

The interior of the XE will feature the latest techno-gadgets, including a new InControl infotainment system with 8-inch touch screen, Smart phone integration, voice commands, and navigation all available on the system.  The system also allows owners to connect with their cars anywhere via iOS and Android apps, allowing owners to check how much fuel they have, unlock doors remotely, and even track the car if it gets stolen.  The Infotainment system is linked to an 11-speaker Meridian sound system which includes a subwoofer.

The XE will be available in 5 trim levels.  SE trim forms the entry level XE trim level, standard with cloth upholstery, gloss black finishes, navigation, cruise control, 17-inch alloys, and multi-function steering wheel.  Prestige sits one rung up on the ladder, featuring heated front seats, Taurus leather upholstery, ambient lighting, and brushed aluminium door finishers, whilst Portfolio forms the most luxurious trim level, complete with soft grain Windsor leather in a variety of colours, split colour dash, Meridian audio system, electric front seats, Bi-Xenon headlamps, and 18-inch alloy wheels.  R-Sport features Taurus-leather clad heated sport seats. Aluminium door finishers, ‘R-Sport; branded tread plates and sports steering wheel, rear spoiler, chrome accents, sports suspension, and 18-inch two-tone alloy wheels.

Available only for and standard on the XE S, S trim is the most sport-orientated trim, equipped with heated sport seats, S branded sport steering wheel, enlarged air intakes, side sill extensions, rear spoiler, red brake calipers, Bi-Xenon headlamps, and 19-inch alloy wheels.

The Jaguar XE certainly looks great, if a bit on the conservative side, with the interior following suit.  But the engine line-up and technology employed in creating the sedan looks promising.  Finally, the 3 Series will have a bona fide competitor, rather than vehicles merely competing in the same segment.

We just can’t wait for that M3 competitor though.  Jaguar, please oblige?

The Jaguar XE has openly declared war on the BMW 3 Series. So how do the 2 stack up to one another? We thought we'd give you the figures, with the competitors thrown in just for kicks. (Click to enlarge)

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