UPDATED: 3/4/14 2:12 pm ET - adds detail on Solihull plant
Jaguar's compact sedan coming next year will be called the XE, will be powered by one of the company's new engines and will be built on a new aluminum unibody architecture, Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth said today at the Geneva auto show.
The XE will compete against the BMW 3 and 4 series, Audi A4/S4, Cadillac ATS, Mercedes-Benz C class and entries from Lexus, Acura and Infiniti in one of the most competitive market segments.
The XE will be powered by the new Ingenium family of engines, the first powerplants the company has developed on its own this century. The engines will be built in a plant to be completed this year in Wolverhampton, England.
"We announced just a few weeks ago that our new Engine Manufacturing Center would produce a new family of premium, lightweight, low-friction, low emission four-cylinder gasoline and diesel units," Speth said in a statement. "The first of our Ingenium engine range will be used in our all-new compact Jaguar sports sedan. That car will be called the Jaguar XE, and it will be unveiled in production form later this year."
Jaguar plans to launch the XE next year with the first U.S. deliveries coming in 2016. Jaguar previewed the XE in 2013 with the C-X17 concept.
Absent from segment
Jaguar has been absent from the compact segment since 2009 when the Ford Mondeo-derived X-Type ended production. X-Type sold well in some markets but was not considered a real Jaguar because it had a transverse mounted engine, all-wheel drive and the basic underpinnings of a Ford sedan. The car's retro styling also failed to resonate with some buyers.
A photo of the XE's front shows the new car's styling sticks close to the shape of the current XF and XJ.
"The new Jaguar XE is every bit a modern Jaguar car; more compact in size but visually striking," said Ian Callum, Jaguar's director of design. "Customers will expect a great deal from a compact Jaguar car -- it must be practical but premium."
The Jaguar XE will be built on a new production line at Jaguar Land Rover’s Solihull plant near Birmingham in the English midlands.
It’s the first car to be built at Solihull since the early 1980s when the Rover 2000, 2300 2500 and 3500 five-door and Triumph TR8 sports car were built there. Since then, Solihull production has been dedicated to Land Rover and Range Rover SUVs.
Construction on the XE’s new production line is nearly complete. The sprawling Solihull plant, which dates back to World War II but has been modernized in recent years, currently builds the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Defender models, all of which are have aluminum bodies.