Earlier this week, Jaguar debuted a brand new model, one that it hopes will take the fight to rivals including BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi in this crucial sector of the car market.
This is clearly A Big Deal to the British car maker which took over London’s Earls Court, the glitzy global premiere seeing celebrities mix with the international press as Jaguar revealed its new baby on, as we were told with a smile, the same day that a forthcoming new royal baby was revealed – a PR gift if ever there was one.
Yet peel away the sparkly veneer and this really could be a big moment for Jaguar – and the car buying public. The new XE is poised to take on the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class in an increasingly hotly contested segment of the market.
Expectation is high. The current line up of this resurgent marque has impressed – indeed, Jags have starred in our very own Tow Car Awards in recent years. The Jaguar XF Sportbrake topped the 1700-1899kg category in 2014 and the 1725-1899kg class in 2013, while in the 2012 Tow Car Awards the XF saloon was crowned our overall winner. So, can the new entry level sports saloon emulate its stablemates?
On paper, there’s certainly lots of promise. Let’s start with price – and from £27,000 it’s the most affordable Jaguar ever. Engine wise, well, Jag’s saving much of the detail of the XE range for next month’s Paris Motor Show, but we know what two of the launch models will be. First, there’s the entry level engine, a brand new (single) turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel (from the Ingenium engine family) that its maker claims can return 75mpg with CO2 emissions of just 99g/km. At the top of the range in an S badged model sits the all aluminium, supercharged, 3.0-litre petrol V6 taken straight from the highly acclaimed F-Type sports car. These two models bookend the range, the (probably three) other variants to be revealed in the French capital. All models have start-stop technology and are EU6 compliant.
Caravanners might also be heartened by the news that this is the first Jaguar since 2009 to have a manual transmission, in the form of a six-speed manual. The tried and tested eight-speed automatic is also available, optimised for use in this application.
There are high hopes for on the road comfort and driveability, too. This rear-wheel drive saloon’s double-wishbone front suspension is teamed with what the makers call an integral link set up at the rear which, we are told, makes it sporty and responsive, as well as extremely supple – apparently 30% softer than rivals. Fingers crossed for superlative comfort on long, cross-Continental touring, then.
Other features that may keep the peace when towing on your caravan holidays include the all new infotainment system, featuring connectivity for Apple and Android phones, plus Bluetooth and USB connectivity – so you can enjoy your own tunes and apps while on the road. Fancy details like the 10-colour ambient lighting might titillate, but we were more impressed by the new head-up display and, in particular, its handy and rather clever towing aid. The XE's forward facing camera reads road signs to keep you on the right side of the law, displaying the speed limit in the head-up display. Not only that, if you’re towing, the car will recognise this fact and tell you the speed limit for cars that are towing on that grade of road for the country in which you’re in, so wherever you are touring, you’ll have peace of mind.
In terms of practicality, with the all new Jaguar XE you’ll get a 455-litre boot (a powered bootlid will be offered) plus a 40:20:40 split folding rear seat, and detachable tow bars are available.
We’ll get the full details including kerbweights at October's Paris Motor Show, so until then we can’t say for certain what tow car potential this new baby Jag has. Its maker was keen to celebrate the XE’s class leading lightness, but with its range of impressive powertrains, we’re sure Jaguar will have gone all out to match and maybe even better its rivals in this as in every aspect of the XE’s development.
Suffice to say, we can’t wait to get the complete facts and figures – and to get behind the wheel. This is certainly a very handsome addition to any potential tow car shopping list. And could this be another future British born Tow Car Awards star? We’ve not got too long to wait until we find out.