Article by Rick Jensen.
Jaguar used to be a British automaker that built thrilling, perfectly styled sports cars and sedans for thrilled, imperfectly smiled Brits. Then Ford bought Jaguar and promptly pimped it to pump out forgettable X-Types. The "poor man’s Jag” was a numb, unreliable mess, and it left Jaguar lovers wondering how far the storied marque could fall.
You should never ask that because in 2008, India’s Tata, maker of the $2,500 Nano, answered that question. And enthusiasts joked that if you were in the market for a barely alive Jaguar or a rolling deathtrap, Tata had you covered.
But then something amazing happened: Tata followed up on its promise to "preserve and build on Jaguar’s heritage.” With Ford still supplying parts, Tata breathed new life into the XF and XJ sedans and hit a home run with the stunning, powerful F-type. And all of a sudden, Jaguar was back from the dead.
And apparently, ready for a fight. For 2016, Jaguar’s new XE is jumping into the cutthroat small sports sedan market where the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class dominate. Jag knows you don’t bring a knife to this gunfight; the XE will be built with all-aluminum architecture, sit on a new rear-wheel drive platform and offer a 240-hp, turbo four-cylinder and a 340+ hp, supercharged V-6. An automatic with lots of cogs will make good use of that power, and all-wheel drive may be an option as well.
Jaguar is still mum on many of the XE’s technical bits, including the all-important platform and handling details. But Jag’s sport sedans, S-type and XF among them, are known for stable and spritely—if not completely inspired—handling and braking. And as there are powerful four-cylinders in this class like the Caddy ATS’ torquey, 272 hp four, the XE’s aluminum construction must keep the weight down to keep the turbo engine’s performance on par with its competitors.
But in this heavyweight fight, the XE’s pure sex styling is already a knockout. Combining the XF’s aggressive nose and the XJ’s curved rear is genius, and if the performance can match its seductive looks, Jaguar’s next great classic will be born.