One of the biggest criticisms I have of most modern car manufacturers is that the majority of cars rolling off factory floors are never built to be as good as they can be. Instead, they are built and developed, with the help of the marketing team, to fit within a particular market or segment. Take the Germans, for example, they ran this marketing strategy with the 1st generation Porsche Cayman.
The engine size, power output and even the price for the 1st generation Cayman conveniently slotted, almost too comfortable, in between the popular Boxster and the iconic 911. Perfect, they thought, for people who want a little bit more than a Boxster but can’t quite splash out on a 911, the Cayman is the car. Now don’t get me wrong, personally I love Porsches, but this exercise, this need to build a car based on a gap in the market ultimately dilutes the fizz and excitement for most enthusiasts.
Simple economics says that for any company to stay afloat and profitable, one needs to adapt to ever-changing markets and fundamentally satisfy consumer’s needs. I understand this, but here is the twist. If a car is developed to fit a market, why isn’t it built to be the best possible version of that car?
I believe the answers lie within the production line. Use what is available to you already. Some of the most soulful cars in the past were put together using only what was available to engineers (BMW 1M, Z3 M coupe, cough cough).
The new Jaquar XE
All of this brings me to the new Jaguar XE. The medium sized, executive saloon, conclusively built to fill the loomingly hollow between the ferocious F-Type (sports car) and luscious flagship XJ (luxury sedan). The same executive saloon that needs to pick a fight with the class-leading 3-series and the current trend-busting C-Class.
How will it compete? Well as I mentioned above, to fill the market, manufacturers need to use what they currently have at HQ, and this is where I believe the Jaguar XE will stand out over its competitors. In the Jaguar XE S model, we have the same 3.0 litre, supercharged rumbling V6 that is found in the intoxicating Jaguar F-type. As it is an executive saloon, we can’t expect it to bang, pop, crack and roar as you’re hurtled into the future with every single sense and emotion being pushed to the very edge. This executive saloon needs to be quieter, more refined and just that little more civilised, I guess that’s what Standard, ECO and winter mode might be all about. But when you have that “one day”, the day when you leave your concrete cage in search of a slightly longer way home, there is the dynamic button. This single action draws a straight line from executive saloon to crackling F-type.
What else have the engineers managed to claw off the production line aside from a great 8-speed automatic gearbox, the rumbling V6 and interior F-type dashboard gauges? They have looked to the XE’s bigger brother, the Jaguar XJ. The cabin has been splashed with details and luxurious elements found in the Jaguar XJ. From soft as a glove leather to a choice of eleven sleek, modern veneers along with high-quality bond grain. The range includes two specialist, four aluminium and five wood veneers: Gloss Black, Brushed Aluminium, Etched Aluminium, Embossed Aluminium, Meshed Aluminium, Carbon Fibre, Satin Ash Burl, Gloss Figured Ebony, Satin Grey Ash, Satin Grey Figured Ebony, Satin Fine Line Wood, to name a few.
For the real enthusiasts, the Jaguar XE neatly checks all the boxes. It’s rear-wheel drive and it’s light. Thanks to an aluminium-intensive monocoque structure, it has clever handling and torque vectoring, combined with double wishbone suspension, integral link rear axle and don’t forget that screeching supercharged V6 and burbling exhaust note, all of which will inevitably raise the corners of your mouth as you are propelled from 0-100 km/h in 5.1 seconds.
So the new Jaguar XE is clever, sophisticated, powerful, soulful and it is put together using only the finest components Jaguar have to offer. Is this enough to challenge the Germans at a game in which they are so proficient? I surely hope so, as the executive saloon world could do with an eloquent rumbling.