Jon Darlington looks a little annoyed. Of course it is with that Jaguar XE a story that is as important as it is long. Finally, the story tells about the challenger of the Audi A4, BMW Dreier and Mercedes C-Class, the impressive comeback of the British car manufacturer, billions of dollars in development, production and a new engine family, the leadership in aluminum construction and the breakout the fine but small niche. But the engineer has heard this story far too often or even gave it for himself. Because there has hardly been any other topic at Jaguar in the past two years - in addition to the F-Type sports car. And as a project manager for the challenger and bearer of hope, Darlington now has only one wish: that the car finally drives and the story gets its well-deserved happy ending. "It only takes 500 meters at the wheel, then you understand the car completely by yourself," says the engineer and hands over the ignition keys for his latest prototypes as proof.
Even six months before the market launch, they already feel the way you'd expect from a Jaguar: toxic and smooth at the same time. Even the start button is a temptation when it pulses red in the center console with almost hypnotic power, and when the engine hisses for the first time, the XE looks just as much more alive than its German competitors.
So that this doesn't remain an empty promise, Darlington and his team have reached deep into the bag of tricks. An adaptive suspension, two programs for the electric power steering, different setups for accelerator and automatic transmission and the correct distribution of the torque through targeted braking intervention - that's what most of the competitors also offer. But as the first car in its class, the XE also has a body that is made entirely of aluminum. "That helps us twice," says the project manager. On the one hand, because the XE weighs only 1 470 kilos at best and, as the lightest car in the segment, is the most light-footed around corners. And secondly, because the aluminum profiles are stiffer than those made of sheet metal and therefore there is more peace in the entablature. The result is a car with two faces: poisonous and greedy if the driver's comb swells and he switches all systems to attack beforehand using the sport mode. And supple and relaxed if you just want to eat kilometers in the comfort position.
The Jaguar initially started its raid against the top dogs from the German south with five engines: For the faction of the sensible, there is a brand new 2,0-liter diesel with 120 kW / 163 hp and a respectable consumption of 3,8 liters or 132 liters kW / 180 hp and a start that fits well with the sporting ambitions of the hope bearer. And if you are looking for pleasure, it is best to choose the strongest of the three petrol engines. Then, instead of the likewise new 2,0 liter four-cylinder with 200 or 240 hp, there is a standard V6 engine from which a compressor elicits 250 kW / 340 hp and up to 450 Nm. The engine not only growls as loudly and passionately as you'd expect from Jaguar. He also has so much steam, accelerates the sedan to 5,1 km / h in 100 seconds and lets the limit of 250 km / h just shrug his shoulders.
Sometimes relaxed, sometimes toxic, sometimes light-footed, loud and powerful, sometimes relaxed, quiet and casual - as far as the driver is concerned, Darlington does not have to worry about the happy ending for the XE. Even if the Jaguar does not quite match the threesome in terms of dynamics and has to surrender to the comfort of the C-Class, the XE offers a sumptuous package of driving characteristics and is always the most promising pursuer.
However, it looks a little different for the passengers. The passenger may still be happy because, like the driver, he sits perfectly and can feel flattered by plenty of paint and leather if there are many crosses on the options list. But in the back seat, just like in the trunk, it is a bit closer than the competition and a station wagon with more space for children and bowling is not planned for the time being, Darlington has to admit. His colleagues are already writing the next story for this: As F-Pace, the first SUV from Jaguar will be developed on the aluminum architecture of the XE for 2016. The space problems should have been resolved by then at the latest.
Darlington is not there yet. During the first test drives, he listened to the story of the XE every evening for a week and had the first external experts behind the wheel ask questions in his stomach. But the happy ending is not far for him: Because in June the market launch starts at prices from 36.500 euros and his job is done for now.
Peter Modelhart naturally sees it a little differently. He is Germany chief of Jaguar and Land Rover and, just like Darlington, can hardly wait for June. While the story for the engineer is over for the time being, it only starts for Modelhart. He finally hopes that a “new chapter in Jaguar's success story” will begin with the market launch. The traditional British brand can also use this well. Because while the sister brand Land Rover drives from one record to another, Jaguar has a noticeably harder time with the comeback. But Modelhart literally sparkles with confidence: “We have already properly charged our image with the F-Type. And with the XE we are now increasing the number of items. "
Author: Benjamin Bessinger / SP-X