Jaguar XE 2015 revealed in LondonJaguar has revealed the new XE in a glittering celeb-packed extravaganza at Earls Court in London, ahead of the new mid-size saloon baby Jag’s market launch in 2015.

The new XE, which will be priced from under £30,000, has been created to take on the cream of the junior exec sector – that’s the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Jaguar is under no illusions: it’s an enormous challenge. But it believes the XE is the car to square up to them head on.

The X-Type will be but a distant memory.

So, why the confidence from the big cat brand? Well, the rear-wheel drive XE is made from aluminium. It has F-Type engines (and the ones that aren’t from the sporting Jag are all-new and built in a £500 million factory). It’s the most aerodynamic ever, the greenest, packs the most advanced infotainment systems and, says Jaguar Design Director Ian Callum, will define what a sporting Jaguar saloon should be.

It will go on sale in 2015 priced from £27,000. There will be one that does 155mph (the one with the 3.0-litre 340hp supercharged V6 from the F-Type) and one that does 75mpg (the 2.0-litre Ingenium 163 turbo diesel). And Jaguar wants to sell the premium British-built junior exec by the tens of thousands. Hey, maybe even hundreds of thousands (creating more jobs on top of the 1700 the XE has already made).

Jaguar XE: revealed at last!

Jaguar XE 2015 revealed in LondonSo what does it look like? Well, like a Jaguar, purposefully. Of all the sectors to begin reinventing and going radical, it’s not the mid-sized junior exec you choose. Even in its most radical Bangle days, BMW didn’t mess with the 3 Series too much and Jaguar is making sure the XE will also be instantly recognisable as a baby Jaguar from day one.

That’s not to say it isn’t bold. The short front overhang, long bonnet, long coupe-like roofline and short, stubby tail will all make it, reckons Callum, look like the sportiest car in its sector. In the metal, while the rear end will take some getting used to, the general view is that it’s just what’s needed to battle the 3 Series. And the more you see it, the more the details show through.

Jaguar XE 2015 revealed in LondonThe lines around the front and rear wheelarches give it definition, for example, while the rear’s F-Type influences do emerge as you stop and stare. Really though, it’s the proportions that make it, something that can’t come across too clearly on images. The sit-back cabin and bold roofline really is different to any other rival saloon and will ensure the XE passes the first glance test.

Jaguar XE inside story: high tech, high quality

Jaguar XE 2015 revealed in LondonInside, it’s pretty conventional. Rich materials and premium surfaces, but again no great surprises. Again, it’s only sitting in it that you can feel the swept-out door panels, the low dash architecture and the high centre console that gives a sporty, cocooned feel. Dials and steering wheel straight from an F-Type are no bad thing, though: again, Jaguar’s quickly-becoming-iconic coupe and roadster is helping define the XE.

Jaguar XE 2015 revealed in LondonA key draw is the new infotainment system, based around an 8-inch colour touchscreen and packed with apps. Everything the modern hyperconnected motorist could need is there – and there’s onboard Wi-Fi for their passengers too. Jaguar reckons there’s lots more to come from it (and has primed us to look forward to playing with the InControl connectivity apps – even if Brits won’t be able to start it remotely…).

We’ve sat inside and found the front OK, the rear surprisingly roomy (the roofline doesn’t impact on your six-foot writer’s head) and the boot looks a decent size despite the shape of the car making its opening a bit letterbox-like.

Jaguar XE: engines and economy

Jaguar XE 2015 revealed in LondonAt launch, Jaguar will offer the XE with two engines. The new 2.0-litre Ingenium turbodiesel four-cylinder will be the mainstay; it will be offered in several power outputs, with the 163hp version offering 99g/km and 75mpg in ultra-green guise – Jaguar has even designed a special type of 17-inch alloy wheel to help meet this figure.

No rival yet offers a free road tax 99g/km rival yet.

The petrol alternative will be the 340hp 3.0-litre supercharged V6, using the base engine from the F-Type (Jaguar proudly admits it’s taken straight from its high-profile sportscar). Capable of 155mph and 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds, this will be the launch performance variant – with clear hints there’s more to come. A 380hp version seems likely, and you’d assume Jaguar will also fit its 5.0-litre V8 to the XE…

Full engine details will be confirmed at the Paris Motor Show in October. Here, Jaguar will also probably reveal the 2.0-litre turbo petrol Ingenium alternative – both new engines will be made at Jaguar’s £500 million all-new engine plant in Wolverhampton.

There will be two gearbox choices, a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic. All XE will come with stop-start as standard, and all engines have been engineered to meet Euro 6 emissions standards. The firm promises “class-leading” refinement and, from the V6, a suitably sporting engine note.

Jaguar XE: the winning details

Jaguar XE 2015 revealed in LondonJaguar believes the XE will win through against the competition because it has been created as a clean-sheet design. No rival can offer lightweight aluminium monocoque and no rival is built in a factory as high-tech as the Solihull plant. Aluminium is very stiff and rigid too, which will help the car’s handling as well as its crash test safety performance; Jaguar is targeting a five-star Euro NCAP score.

It has a new slippery-road traction system called All Surface Progress Control; a sort of ‘snow and ice cruise control’, it’s been designed by the people who did Land Rover’s Terrain Response system and works in a similar way. ASPC will get the XE underway and maintain a speed of up to 18mph completely autonomously – Jaguar says it gives levels of traction and drive similar to fitting winter tyres. This will overcome any winter-road hesitations to buying a rear-wheel drive car.

The XE is fitted as standard with an autonomous braking system that will slow or stop the car when a camera in the windscreeen detects an accident or a pedestrian in the road and the driver doesn’t respond. This same stereo camera will also read road signs and help keep the XE in between the white lines on the road. No rival yet matches Jaguar’s HD stereo camera yet.

And no rival, says Jaguar, has suspension as good as the XE. At the front there are double wishbones, which are better than rivals’ MacPherson struts. At the rear there’s an ‘integral link’ multi-link setup, which again is better than conventional multi-link systems as the integral link allows better separation of forces and thus better overall control. Lots of aluminium has gone into the suspension and both it and the mounting points it’s attached to are as stiff as possible for overall handling precision.

Will it all add up to a package able to beat the best of the rest? We’ll have to wait until 2015 to find out, with the Jaguar XE expected to launch in the first quarter of the year. Next stop is the Paris Motor Show 2014 in early October to find out full technical specs of the XE – for now, feast your eyes on the new baby Jag that, after years of waiting, is finally a reality. What do you think… and could it be replace the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 or Mercedes-Benz C-Class as your next new mid-size saloon car?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.