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XE SV Project 8

Jaguar XE SV Project 8 super sedan smashes U.S. lap record

Jaguar XE SV Project 8

Jaguar’s tyre-shredding skunkworks super saloon, the XE SV Project 8, has smashed another sedan lap record, following its seven minute, 21 second time at the Nurburgring last year.

This time, the American Laguna Seca circuit was the target, with a one minute, 37 second time achieved by presenter and racer, Randy Pobst.

The supercharged 600 horsepower XE beat the previous record at the 2.2-mile circuit, set by the Cadillac CTS V, by just under a second. The Project 8 is more than two seconds a lap quicker than an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadafoglio.

Jaguar calls the Project 8 “the most extreme Jaguar yet produced”. And when you look at the lengths gone to creating it, that statement seems a bit of an understatement. 

Video: Jaguar XE SV Project 8 on-track

Project 8 comes in left-hand-drive only, due to the tight fit of that supercharged V8 under its bonnet. The significant widening of the car at the rear required a total redesign of the rear doors; a great undertaking for what is a comparatively tiny 300-car production run. Still, it needed to be more than a quick engine swap for nearly £150,000 ($200,000)…

“This Laguna Seca lap record is another powerful demonstration of the Jaguar XE SV Project 8’s performance credentials,” said Michael van der Sande, MD of JLR’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division.

“Designed, engineered and hand-assembled by Special Vehicle Operations, this record-breaking sedan is made for the world’s most demanding driving enthusiasts.”

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Jaguar XE

Jaguar moves XE production from Solihull to Castle Bromwich

Jaguar XEJaguar is moving production of its XE junior executive saloon from Solihull to Castle Bromwich to help boost volumes of the Solihull-built F-Pace SUV.

The Solihull ‘factory within a factory’ – a new Jaguar production facility built within the Land Rover Solihull plant’ – will now be used only to build the in-demand F-Pace SUV for Jaguar.

In moving the XE to Castle Bromwich, Jaguar will construct it alongside the larger XF executive saloon: the two cars use the same aluminium architecture so the process should be straightforward. To facilitate the move, Jaguar is investing an extra £100 million in Castle Bromwich.

It’s quite a turnaround for Castle Bromwich, which faced closure in 2008. Since then, Jaguar has invested heavily in it: £500 million has gone into it in the past two years alone.

Castle Bromwich currently builds the Jaguar XF plus the low-volume XJ and F-Type, and so is arguably underutilised. In contrast, the Solihull line builds the high-volume XE and ultra-successful F-Pace: it also, oddly, builds the Range Rover Sport on the same line, another in-demand machine.

Moving the XE to Castle Bromwich will fill capacity at the huge plant next to the M6 motorway, leaving Solihull to concentrate on the F-Pace – which has already become the fastest-selling Jaguar of all time.

So far this year, Jaguar sales are up 72%, to 85,726 – and in August, with the F-Pace fully on stream, they rocketed 104% to 10,868. The Jaguar XE was launched in the United States this summer.

Solihull will continue to operates 24/7, with three shifts running around the clock during weekdays.

Video: Jaguar XE at Castle Bromwich

BMW 225xe

BMW 225xe: Two-Minute Road Test

BMW 225xe

You could argue that this is a practical BMW i8. It shares its three-cylinder petrol engine with the i8, combined with an electric motor (just the one, unlike the i8 – plus its drivetrain is the opposite way around). It’s not quite as fast as the i8 either. However, it does come within the spacious, compact-MPV package that is the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

What are its rivals?

There aren’t many, if any, direct rivals for the BMW 225xe. It lives in its own little ‘plug-in hybrid compact MPV’ niche. Diesel-powered cars such as the Mercedes-Benz B-class and Volkswagen Golf SV are perhaps its most obvious rivals. Then there’s the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV which, although larger, is leading the plug-in hybrid revolution in terms of sales.

BMW 225xe

Which engines does it use?

The BMW 225xe combines a 1.5-litre petrol combustion engine – providing power to the front of the car via a six-speed steptronic auto transmission – with an electric motor at the back, driving the rear wheels. This essentially creates an ‘on-demand’ 4×4 system, with the two separate motors capable of producing a combined 224hp.

BMW 225xe

What’s it like to drive?

That results in a 0-62mph time of 6.7 seconds, and a top speed of 126mph. The nicest thing we can say about this car is that it drives exactly like a regular 2 Series Active Tourer. Sure, there’s an element of i3 about its power delivery, but it lacks the harsh regenerative braking and would be easy to live with, even if you’ve never driven an electric or hybrid car before. Its darty nature makes it a joy to drive around town, while wind and road noise is well managed at higher speeds.

BMW 225xe

Fuel economy and running costs

The result of all this hybrid gadgetry is a CO2 emissions figure of just 46g/km and official fuel economy of 141.2mpg. In real life, though, you won’t achieve these figures. Just how efficient the 225xe is will depend heavily on the kind of driving you do, and how often you plug it in. But these figures do result in favourable tax rates for both private buyers and company car drivers: a 7% BIK rate for the latter, in fact, and free car tax (VED) for the former.

BMW 225xe

Is it practical?

Yes – just as practical as the regular BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. With the rear seats up, it has 400 litres of boot space (the same as a petrol- or diesel-powered model), stretching to an impressive 1,350 litres with them folded down. The interior has the premium quality you’d expect from a BMW, without any sacrifices for the plug-in hybrid system.

BMW 225xe

What about safety?

The regular 2 Series Active Tourer achieved a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, and the 225xe is packed with safety kit. This includes stability control, six airbags, tyre pressure monitors and a system that will automatically apply to brakes to prevent low-speed collisions.

BMW 225xe

Which version should I go for?

There are just two versions of the BMW 225xe: the entry-level Sport, or the Luxury (with a price premium of £750). For the latter, you forgo sports seats for extra comfort, and some extra chrome on the outside. We’d be tempted to stick with the Sport.

BMW 225xe

Should I buy one?

There’s a lot going for the BMW 225xe. Just like the regular model, it combines family-car practicality with a typically BMW driving experience. It handles well, and the interior is suitably premium. Best of all, there are no sacrifices for the plug-in hybrid system. The biggest downside? The £35,155 asking price.

BMW 225xe

Pub fact

The BMW 225xe’s battery can be recharged in just two hours and 15 minutes, when using BMW’s i Wallbox. Alternatively, a conventional charger will replenish it in three hours and 15 minutes.

Jaguar XE 2.0d 180 2015 review

Jaguar XE 2.0d 180 review: 2015 first drive

Jaguar XE 2.0d 180 2015 reviewJaguar vs BMW: it’s now a thing. Because the British-built Jaguar XE delivers, and how. It’s good enough to trade blows with the 3 Series. It might just now be the class-leader.

Richard Aucock | April 2015

The Jaguar XE should be the car that strikes fear into the 3 Series. And if there’s one variant that BMW should be particularly anxious about, it’s this one: the high-volume 2.0-litre turbodiesel, in optimum 180hp guise. For if Jaguar gets this one right, BMW really has got a fight on its hands. Game on, then.

Since we last drove the XE, Jaguar’s been busy polishing all the areas it promised to: engine refinement and interior finish in particular. Shorn of its prototype stickers and now fully on show to the world, the XE certainly looks interesting. Now we’ve got used to the fact it’s not going to be a styling revolution (nor did it ever need to be), it’s possible to appreciate the design for what it is.

Namely, a saloon car with alternative proportions to the three-box norm – the roofline really is coupe-like, window graphics bold and, in elegantly-formed aluminium and steel, body detailing simple and well judged. The stance is muscular, confident, more haunched and sporty than we’re used to in this sector, and people will like it when they see it on the road.

Jaguar XE 2.0d 180 2015 review

The interior was the bit we were worried about. Lacking its production-spec finishes, we felt it looked a bit plain. Panic over. Again, it’s different to the sector norm, purposefully with a more cockpit-like feel and cocooned sensation – you get this from the super-low seats (even dropping down so low when you get in feels good), the high centre console and the way the concave door panels seem to wrap you within it.

And the finish evident throughout, in the mid-range sporty-spec R-Sport, is impressive: the double-stitched dashtop, lustrous piano black centre console, precise aluminium detailing and even the fact it ‘sounds’ solid when you tap it (unlike the hollow rattle you get in a Mercedes-Benz C-Class) is reassuring. It looks premium, it’s a match for the 3 Series, Jaguar has achieved what it promised to.

The car we tested was, intentionally, a business user’s dream spec. The 2.0d 180 R-Sport retails at £33,025, emits 109g/km CO2, has touchscreen sat nav, cruise control and HID headlights as standard and even includes must-have 18-inch wheels. Add on must-have metallic paint and, for less than £34,000, you’ve a great-looking car that feels good to sit in and could topple the five-star 3 Series. Does it?

Jaguar XE 2.0d 180 2015 review

What’s the Jaguar XE 2.0d 180 like to drive?

Not a single excuse is needed. The XE delivers. It’s a great drive, with depth and ability across the board, has a front-running diesel engine, a modern-era infotainment system and plenty of surprise discoveries that delight and satisfy in equal measure.

The engine first: with the prototype, we were worried that, while smooth, it was maybe a bit too vocal and gruff. It’s cured here: apart from a bit of tickover shimmy, the all-new engine is very refined and easily a match for the new 2.0-litre diesel in the BMW; as such, it also topples Audi’s 2.0-litre TDI and the clattery, aged 2.1-litre Bluetec in the Mercedes-Benz. It revs particularly sweetly, with little diesel drone, and step-on response to the accelerator is both swift and smooth. We’re pleased to report how cultured and sweet it is.

It’s quick, posting 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds, and 317lb ft of torque gives it guts. It blends particularly well with the smooth, satisfying eight-speed auto option, but also works nicely with the six-speed manual, the same ZF gearbox as used by BMW. With a meaty clutch, positive action and mechanical feel, the stubby lever’s action will please the enthusiasts.

As will the handling. We expected it to be good; with an ultra-rigid body, F-Type-stiff aluminium suspension pickup mounts, double wishbone front suspension and Integral Link rear, it exceeds even our heavily 3 Series-influenced expectations.

Handling is agile, confident, precise, full of bite when you press hard. It seems analogue, rather than force-fed; the harder you push, the more it gives back, in a linear and predictable way. Lean hard on it and it’s beautifully balanced; prefer fingertips and it flows with inch-perfect accuracy.

This is despite the steering being Jaguar’s first EPAS electric assistance setup – but you’d barely believe it from the on-centre feel, the precision and delicacy, the fact weighting is consistent and never feels like you’re steering through two opposing magnets doing strange and unpredictable things to the assistance. It also weightens consistently and naturally in dynamic mode.

The drive is complemented by a ride quality that surely leads the class. Even the standard passive-suspension car (adaptive suspension is optional) has a fluid, flowing ride but with proper control and not a hint of float when you’re chucking it about with commitment. We’re writing this and we still don’t know how Jaguar’s achieved what it has done with the ride.

We drove across ugly-looking broken surfaces at speed, yet didn’t feel a trace of excessive harshness or noise. Across fast B-roads, it remained poised and tightly controlled, but without the stiffly-sprung jitters you get in the more focused 3 Series. It was marvelously measured and flowing on the motorway, but nicely roll-free and responsive on bends. Thank the expensive suspension hardware, says Jaguar. Thank a magnificent amount of expertise in setting it up like this, we say.

But most important of all is the overall feel of the drive: it’s premium, expensive, benefits from high-level engineering and is far from mainstream. The XE feels special to drive, feels like you’d hope a baby Jaguar would – feels like a genuine, closely-matched BMW 3 Series rival, in fact. We can think of no higher praise.

Jaguar XE 2.0d 180 2015 review

Does the Jaguar XE 2.0d 180 beat the BMW 320d?

Has Jaguar really been able to do what no other member of the establishment has done, and topple the mighty BMW 3 Series? We believe it may well have done. And, as long-time current-shape 3 Series loyalists, we’re both amazed and delighted to be saying this.

It’s not just the drive, although obviously that’s a major factor – particularly the way Jaguar’s delivered pleasing, driver-focused handling with step-up ride quality over the 3 Series that offers more suppleness with no less control. It’ll take a back-to-back to make the final call, but these two drivers’ cars are neck and neck for which pleases drivers the most; they’re certainly well ahead of any competitor.

The diesel engine is, to our relief, thoroughly on the money, which it had to be given the improvements BMW’s found in its new generation 2.0-litre 190hp unit. Again, both are clear of the competition here (Mercedes-Benz needs to take a serious look at that oil-burner of its, and soon).

But then there’s the other important parts that make up car ownership. Styling: the Jaguar is the better-looking car and, once you’re familiar with it and see them side-by-side, we’re sure you’ll agree. The proportions are more pleasing, the shape and surfaces are more interesting and, well, it’s something different in a sector that’s traditionally rather conservative – without, crucially, being too different.

They’re neck and neck on interiors, and maybe the BMW’s got a bit more space, maybe its infotainment system is a bit more well-rounded (although we understand Jaguar has plans here – think InControl Touch Pro…). The Jaguar’s a nice place to be though, and has Germanic substance combined with British warmth – it’s a welcoming, pleasant place to be that, again thanks to the proportions and layout, feels different and unique.

The twin test between them is going to be fascinating but, if we had to make a call right now, we’d give it to the Jaguar. The drive is more rounded, the engine blends performance, refinement and economy very well, it’s nice inside and the shape really is growing on us.

There are two provisos: one, in a few weeks, BMW will have a facelifted 3 Series on show. Two, we need to get them back-to-back in the UK to decide which really is the best compact executive you can buy. But the fact it’s between the BMW and the Jaguar says it all: that’s how much Jaguar has achieved with the new XE.

Jaguar XE 2.0d 180 2015 review

Verdict: Jaguar XE 2.0d 180 (2015)

Jaguar’s done it. Jaguar’s delivered a genuinely competitive compact exexutive car. Jaguar’s done what Lexus and Infiniti have failed to do, and taken on the mighty three German brands, on equal footing.

We reckon the XE is so good, it’s already beaten the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. That’s how good it is. And it’s the fact we’re now wondering just who’s going to come out ahead when it meets the BMW 3 Series that tells you what a great car the XE is.

Jaguar vs. BMW: the fight is on.

Rivals: Jaguar XE 2.0d 180 (2015)

  1. BMW 3 Series
  2. Mercedes-Benz C-Class
  3. Audi A4
  4. Lexus IS
  5. Infiniti Q50

The BMW has been the five-star class act in this sector ever since its launch. It’s way ahead of the others, most significantly the dated Audi A4 (due for replacement at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show). Even the all-new Mercedes-Benz C-Class couldn’t topple it. Jaguar also sees the Lexus IS as a rival, but not the Infiniti Q50: neither do we, really.

Specification: Jaguar XE 2.0d 180 (2015)

Engine 2.0-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder

Gearbox Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive

Price from £30,275 (R-Sport as tested: £33,025)

Power 180hp

Torque 317lb ft (430Nm)

0-62mph 7.4 seconds

Top speed 140mph

MPG 67.3mpg

CO2 109g/km

Jaguar XE Solihull

£500 million Jaguar XE factory within Land Rover factory officially open

Jaguar XE SolihullJaguar has officially opened the new XE production facility in Solihull – a facility uniquely operating within the existing giant Land Rover factory there.

The official opening means a Jaguar is being built in a Land Rover plant for the first time.

Costing £500 million, the new plant will see Solihull’s three-shift, 24-hour production pattern continue, and means the site now employs a staggering 9,000 people.

Indeed, the Solihull workforce has almost doubled in just five years – and production has trebled.

The broader UK car industry is benefitting from the new XE’s arrival too: 55 per cent of the components used to make it are sourced from 55 UK-based tier one suppliers. This represents £4 billion of contracts (and many more new jobs in the supply chain).

It means the XE isn’t only built in Britain, but more than half of it is truly ‘British’.

Jaguar Land Rover purchasing director, Ian Harnett, said: “Jaguar Land Rover is one of the UK’s success stories, not simply because it has seen an upsurge in demand thanks to sustained investment, but because it has been able to support a burgeoning, high-tech, highly skilled supply base here in the UK.

“With each successive new or upgraded model, we are seeing the positive impact felt amongst the entire automotive sector which is great news for everyone committed to ensuring the UK remains truly competitive on a global stage.”

To help officially open the plant, Solihull operations director Alan Volkaerts was helped by Sir Stirling Moss OBE, legendary Jaguar test driver Norman Dewis OBE and serial Jaguar Land Rover owner Quentin WIllson.

The XE isn’t the only Jaguar that’s going to be made at Solihull, either: earlier in the year, the firm also confirmed the new F-Pace crossover, set to debut at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show in September, will also be built there.

Jaguar XE 2015 prototype

Jaguar XE prototype review: 2015 first drive

Jaguar XE 2015 prototype

We’ve waited long enough for the new Jaguar XE, so we’re not going to keep you in suspense any longer: they’ve nailed it. This is a thoroughly competitive modern premium compact saloon whose talents are broad-based and considerable.

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Jaguar XE

Jaguar also targeting Lexus IS as a rival to XE

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.  Read more

Jaguar XE

Jaguar XE configurator live – Ian Callum tells us his choice

Jaguar XEJaguar has launched its new XE online configurator tool ahead of production beginning in spring 2015. Read more

Jaguar XE

Jaguar XE at the Paris Motor Show 2014

This is it: the baby Jaguar is here at last. And, judging by the reaction on the ground here at the Paris Motor Show 2014, it’s already a potential bullseye… Read more

Jaguar XE

Jaguar XE 'the car buyers have been waiting for' says boss

Jaguar XEJaguar Land Rover MD Jeremy Hicks says the Jaguar XE will be the key to unlocking the firm’s consistently impressive customer awareness and turning brand appeal into sales. Read more