Jaguar XEJaguar is not just focusing on the German big three of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz with its all-important XE, admitting the Lexus IS must also be considered a key competitor. 

Engineering boss Dr Wolfgang Ziebart told Motoring Research that although the big three are all-powerful, the Lexus is another important rival it’s concentrating on.

“We’re of course considering Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz,” said Dr Ziebart. “But we mustn’t forget the Lexus IS either – it’s particularly important in the US.”

The premium compact market is dominated by the German brand and Jaguar will have benchmarked the vital new XE against the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

But its admission of the competition posed by Lexus is interesting – in particular, the acknowledgement of Lexus’ strength in the US.

North America is one of Jaguar Land Rover’s largest new car markets, and the new XE will present a big opportunity there as well as in the sector’s heartland of Europe.

While the Lexus IS can’t compete with the A4, 3 Series and C-Class in terms of global sales, its US strength is a tactical advantage and it also offers something none of the German brands can – a volume petrol-electric model, the IS 300h.

Indeed, the hybrid IS is currently the only premium compact car able to match the Jaguar XE diesel’s headline-grabbing 99g/km CO2 figure…