New Jaguar XE sedan debuts in September, goes after BMW 3-Series

Jaguar throws down the gauntlet with the Jaguar XE sedan, challenging the supremacy of the BMW 3-Series in the premium mid-size sedan market. Long anticipated, the forthcoming Jag sedan will debut in London on September 8.

Although artist impressions and spy photos abound—testimony to the interest stirred by Jaguar XE—Jaguar has not released any photos yet. But expect fluid and dare we say feline lines borrowed from the Jaguar XF and Jaguar XJ sedans.

Jaguar XE suspensionAnd don’t expect anything like the Jaguar-hopes-we-won’t-remember Jaguar X-Type, Ford’s mistake of a smaller sedan for Jaguar, based on Ford’s small sedan platform, the Mondeo in Europe and the Contour in the U.S. And we’ll not dwell on this anymore than to say that Jaguar was once stung and twice wary.

Jaguar needs the XE sedan to be a full-range player among the top-priced spread. The British car maker’s worldwide sales in 2013 totalled only 76,000 cars in 2013 while BMW sold nearly half again as many 3-series in the U.S. market alone. Having the XE–we expect pricing in the $40,000 to $55,000 range–means Jaguar can go after the Audi A4, Cadillac ATS, Infiniti Q50 and Lexus IS owners as well.

The Jaguar XE will be built on an altogether new ”aluminum-intensive” platform not borrowed from any other model, inside Jaguar or out. Jaguar developed a new rear suspension called “integral link.” Jaguar claims it’s an improvement on conventional multi-link rear suspensoin by “providing lateral and longitudinal stiffness, the Integral Link delivers sharp response and handling while retaining a refined, luxurious ride” Many components of the rear suspension are made from forged or hollow-cast aluminum.

The front suspension is mounted to a subframe with cast aluminum suspension towers. It’s a double wishbone design with elements borrowed from the F-Type sports car, with parts made from cast and forged aluminum.

The Jaguar XE’s steering system features electric power assist. Long maligned as being unnatural compared to traditional hydraulic power steering, electric power steering has come of age, allowing a greater range of tuning, according to Jaguar, with assist being variable based on handling and ease of use demands.

More details will be released as the debut approaches and we’ll play along and forward them as they come. In the meantime, if you’re waiting for an invitation to the festivities, you’d best be a star, because Jaguar says it will be star-studded. Or maybe you have to be a stud—which means that some of us still have a chance. We’ll watch our mailbox.