Banish what you remember from the Jaguar S-Type and X-Type sedans of over a decade ago. History is being rewritten with the unleashing of Jaguar’s latest sedan, the XE. And its German rivals would do well to look over their shoulders lest this big cat pounces on them.

Well, it’s actually a compact-medium-sized cat (slotting size-wise between a BMW 3 Series and 5 Series). But it’s got ambitions of humungous proportions. And it’s prepared to do whatever predatory strikes it needs to make to achieve this. The all-new Jaguar XE, uncaged at last month’s Paris Motor Show, aims to redefine the sports sedan and the British carmaker wants it to be the definitive driver’s car in its class, putting the BMW 3- and 4-series squarely in its sights.

The XE’s lightweight construction, streamlined styling, luxurious interior and outstanding ride and handling are testament to company founder Sir William Lyons’ vision: ‘The car is the closest thing we will ever create to something that is alive.’

Jaguar XE at the Paris Motor Show

Jaguar XE at the Paris Motor Show

The rear-drive XE is the only vehicle in the premium compact sedan class to use an aluminum-intensive monocoque. This extremely robust yet light structure, together with double wishbone front suspension and an Integral Link rear axle, is fundamental to the XE’s innovative benchmark vehicle dynamics. It is the smallest, lightest, and stiffest sedan in the Jaguar line-up.

Jaguar Land Rover’s world-leading expertise in aluminum structure engineering enables exceptional fuel consumption and emissions figures: with the new Ingenium diesel engines, the XE can achieve 75mpg and 99g/km CO2 – the cleanest and most efficient Jaguar ever.

And powered by the supercharged 340ps 3.0-liter V6 petrol engine from the acclaimed Jaguar F-Type, the XE S is capable of 0-60mph in just 4.9 seconds. The V6 and an available 2.0-liter 163ps direct-injection turbo-diesel are available with 6-speed manual and 8-speed automatic transmissions.

“The XE’s driving behavior fully matches the promise of its seductive looks, and the emotional appeal is supported by state of-the-art approaches to efficiency, from aerodynamics to the advanced Ingenium engine family,” said Kevin Stride, Vehicle Line Director, Jaguar XE.

The aluminium-intensive Jaguar XE is the first model developed from Jaguar Land Rover’s new modular vehicle architecture. The long 2,835mm wheelbase and low seating position enable svelte proportions and a streamlined profile.

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“Great proportions and a dynamic, edgy feel are at the core of Jaguar design. We wanted to create a strong sense of movement, and have given the XE a dynamic and purposeful look that is without compromise. Sleek, low, coupe-like exterior proportions combine with an efficient package that is instantly recognisable as a true Jaguar,” said Ian Callum, Jaguar Director of Design.

The strongly-sculpted hood is a testament to Jaguar’s expertise in working with aluminum, creating a taut, muscular appearance. The very steeply raked windshield and the rising waistline accentuate the streamlined, coupe-like profile, adding to the sense of movement.

The signature ‘J-Blade’ running lights are another instantly recognisable Jaguar design. In the rear lights, a horizontal line intersecting a roundel is an iconic styling feature inherited from the iconic Jaguar E-type.

Jaguar has a rich history of designing stunning, yet aerodynamically efficient cars. The new XE continues this tradition of uncompromised form and function: with a drag coefficient of 0.26, it is the most aerodynamic Jaguar ever. This was achieved through a combination of over 1,200 computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations and over eight million hours of processor time.

The body’s low-drag shape is enhanced by features that amplify each improvement made. Innovations include front bumper ducts which channel laminar airflow over the surface of the front wheels to reduce drag. This is combined with lightweight under-floor panels running back to the rear muffler, creating an almost perfectly smooth surface and significantly reducing drag.

In true Jaguar tradition, the cabin offers outstanding levels of comfort and spaciousness. Exquisite materials and finishes combined with celebrated Jaguar craftsmanship make this a class-beating interior that’s unlike anything else in the segment. Jaguar’s new InControl Touch infotainment system takes center stage—its innovative 8-inch touchscreen promises fast, intuitive access to all features and functions, including iOS and Android smartphone apps.

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The XE has some of the most advanced driver assistance systems available. Paris saw the world debut of Jaguar’s new All Surface Progress Control (ASPC), developed through decades of Land Rover experience in off-road traction systems, which can electronically gain traction in seconds and is ideal for use on low-grip surfaces, such as snow-covered roads. This was dramatically demonstrated in a video wherein an ASPC-equipped XE confidently drove up a steep, snow-covered incline while a non-ASPC model slipped backwards despite its wheels desperately scrambling for traction.

Laser projection technology enables the XE’s head-up display (HUD) to generate sharp, high-contrast color graphics (such as vehicle speed and navigation) from a module smaller and almost a third lighter than existing systems, retaining clarity even in direct sunlight.

A stereo camera is mounted behind the front windscreen to give the XE a 3D view of the road ahead: this highly accurate data is used for functions including autonomous emergency braking and a lane departure warning system.

The XE is the stiffest, most aerodynamic Jaguar saloon car ever built. It is also the first Jaguar to be equipped with electric power steering, tuned to provide exceptional responsiveness and feel but with lower energy consumption than hydraulic systems. The XE also boasts the lowest cost of ownership—including reduced crash damage repair—and most environmentally sustainable credentials of all Jaguar models.

Manufacturing of the new XE occurs at Jaguar Land Rover’s Solihull plant in an all-new facility. Part of a £1.5bn investment, this flexible, purpose-built site will create 1,700 UK jobs.

The XE now completes the Jaguar sedan range, sitting below the midsized XF and large XJ. It will roll off showrooms globally in 2015 with a retail price of approximately US$43,000.

Grace, pace, and space—as the Brits like to describe it. Yep, this Jag’s got them in spades.

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