The scale of Jaguar’s failure in the vital compact premium market is now clear.
The car that established and defined the compact premium market segment was, I would argue, the 1982 BMW E30-generation 3 Series. There had, of course, always been sporting saloons from European manufacturers that were regarded as a cut above the mainstream, for example Alfa Romeo’s lovely 1962 Type 105 Giulia but, outside their home market at least, sales of such cars were always modest, hence they offered the benefit of exclusivity to their buyers. The genius of the E30 and subsequent generations of 3 Series was that they were able to sell in very large numbers while still remaining desirable and aspirational.
The E30 also benefitted hugely from the emergence in the 1980s of a new tribe of potential customers, the so-called ‘Yuppies’(1). These individuals were a product of financial markets deregulation that created a boom in highly-paid jobs in financial services on both sides of the Atlantic.
Yuppies were characterised as highly ambitious individuals who enjoyed the benefits of their new found wealth. They were also very competitive and status-conscious, so needed to advertise their success to their peers(2). Their choice of car was a key status-symbol, and the BMW 3-Series achieved almost iconic status for them. Many were supplied as ‘perk’(3) company cars and their strong residuals made them eminently affordable under corporate leasing schemes. Even if one’s allowance only ran to a base 318i, specifying alloy wheels and the de-badge option would nicely obfuscate that fact.
And so the die was cast: the 3 Series would go on to sell in huge numbers for the following decades and played a large part in turning BMW from something of a niche, left-field manufacturer into an automotive colossus. Mercedes-Benz and Audi followed suit with their C-Class and A4 models, creating the German premium triumvirate, while other manufacturers such as Lexus tried, with some success, to feed from the same trough.
Nothing lasts forever, and the compact premium saloon has in recent years faced increasing competition from in-house rivals, most notably the crossover, offering the same desirable qualities and badge-appeal in a different package. European sales of the 3-Series peaked at over 350,000 in 2002 but fell by almost two thirds to around 127,000(4) in 2022. However, BMW now offers a much wider and more diverse range of cars in the vitally important D-segment, including the 3 Series, 4 Series, X3 and X4, total European sales of which were around 203,000 in 2022. Total US sales for these models in 2022 was 142,951 and around 260,000 3 Series and X3 models found Chinese buyers in the same year.
Keen for a share of this highly lucrative market, Jaguar launched its current assault on the D-segment with its 2015 XE saloon and 2017 E-Pace crossover. After the debacle of the 2001 X-Type, a well-engineered car whose ‘classic’ styling proved to be precisely what buyers didn’t want, Jaguar decided to take the German premium trio head-on with a wholly contemporary fastback saloon that looked like a scaled-down copy of the well regarded 2007 XF.
The XE is a front-engined RWD saloon with longitudinally-mounted inline-four and V6 engines(5), mated to a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. Like almost all current Jaguars, the XE features bonded and riveted aluminium construction for weight-saving. It introduced JLR’s new range of four-cylinder ‘Ingenium’ engines, initially offered in diesel form and, from 2017, also in petrol, replacing the Ford EcoBoost unit Jaguar had previously utilised.
The XE was initially built at JLR’s plant in Solihull in the West Midlands of England, the first Jaguar to be manufactured there(6). From 2017, a long-wheelbase version, the XEL, has been manufactured at Jaguar’s plant in Changshu, China, a joint venture with Chery Automobile.
There was much positivity surrounding the launch of the XE, not least from Autocar magazine, a constant cheerleader for the renowned if perennially underperforming British marque. Journalist Nic Cackett did, however, acknowledge just how high the stakes were for the XE: “Succeed, and the brand’s three-decade struggle to establish itself as a functioning alternative to the premium German manufacturers finally gains a sustainable foothold. Fail, and its current standing as Jaguar Land Rover’s low-volume, low-hip-point fun division ossifies, perhaps for good.”
At first glance, the company should have been delighted at the magazine’s verdict on the XE: “Jaguar has now launched a car that feels as good inside as the BMW, is virtually as accommodating and, crucially, is for the most part better to drive. Certainly, it excels over the other main players in this sector, the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. In doing that, Jaguar has done what Lexus, Infiniti and others could not.”
There were, however, clues that the XE wasn’t quite as good as it should have been. Note the qualification concerning the car’s accommodation: the aluminium-intensive architecture might have been beneficial for saving weight, but bulkier cross-sections were needed to maintain rigidity, and this compromised both rear seat and luggage space, which was less of an issue in Jaguar’s larger cars, but certainly a concern in the XE.
There was also a sotto voce criticism of the new Ingenium engines: “There’s still a little work to be done to make both the four-pot petrol and diesel motors as appealing as the Jaguar XE deserves.” The truth was much more brutal: the much vaunted new engines were significantly off the pace as regards the refinement expected in such a car. Despite these mildly expressed reservations, the XE was awarded an impressive 4½ stars out of five by the magazine.
The XE was, however, only half the story. Two years after its debut, Jaguar launched the E-Pace crossover. If the XE had been a ‘clean sheet’ first-principles design, the E-Pace was the product of a rather more pragmatic and cost-conscious approach. The ‘PTA’ platform on which it was based would be shared with Land-Rover, where it would underpin the 2018 second-generation Range Rover Evoque and re-engineered 2019 Discovery Sport(7) models. It was transverse-engined with the option of front or four-wheel-drive(8). The E-pace would not be built in the UK, but instead outsourced to Magna-Steyr in Gratz, Austria. It would also be assembled at the Changshu plant in China.
Most significantly, the E-pace was made from steel rather than aluminium and, as a consequence, weighed significantly more than its larger F-pace sibling, tipping the scales at 1,926kg (4,246lbs) versus 1,810kg (3,990lbs) for the two-litre engined versions of each model.
Then there was the styling: under the direction of Ian Callum, the designers tried to apply signature contemporary Jaguar tropes to the E-Pace, notably the upswept headlamps and slim tail lights from the F-Type, but the underlying shape was rather upright and dumpy, with an unfortunate resemblance to the 2009 Hyundai Tuscon / iX35, particularly in its rising lower DLO line and small triangular rear quarter-window:
Small crossovers are, of course, difficult to style with much elegance or distinction, so perhaps the E-Pace might instead impress with its dynamic abilities? Again, we turn to Autocar for what might be expected to be the most positive spin. Instead, we find a decidedly mixed verdict from the reviewer, Richard Lane: “The resulting Jaguar E-Pace is a car that hits a few highs, chiefly in its exterior design(9), but mostly leaves you disappointed at the missed opportunity to set a new benchmark in a class short on handling dynamism. The E-Pace is hamstrung by its heavy underpinnings and, in D180 guise, has particularly lacklustre performance. Neither moderately enticing steering nor a fairly keen front axle can quell our regret that the car doesn’t handle with more alacrity, fluency and balance.” In summary, the E-pace was described as “…good enough for the segment but not quite good enough for Jaguar” and was awarded a middling 3½ stars out of five.
So, how did these new models fare? Both were vital in the struggle to grow Jaguar’s sales volumes in this key market segment and finally put the company on a stable and sustainable footing. Here are the sales data(10) since lunch for the three key global markets:
These sales numbers are shockingly poor. They would be regarded as little more than rounding errors in Munich, Stuttgart or Ingolstadt and are unequivocal in their verdict: both the XE and E-Pace have spectacularly failed to achieve the step-change in Jaguar’s sales volumes that was expected of them. Any defence that sales have been adversely affected by circumstances outside Jaguar’s control such as the COVID pandemic, Russian invasion of Ukraine and global microchip shortage is undermined by the fact that the chronic underperformance was evident long before these external events intervened.
The E-Pace was a heavily compromised product that was, ironically, given its name, not remotely near the pace of the best of its competitors, so deserved its fate. The failure of the XE is harder to explain. It was and remains not without merit but perhaps it has been, like the current Alfa Romeo Giulia, a second or third choice for almost all potential buyers, and there are no prizes for being the runner-up in this brutal contest. Maybe it was its same-again and overly familiar styling, or the distinctly non-premium dashboard and interior fittings? Or simply that it was considered a risky left-field choice in a deeply conservative market segment?
In any event, while this piece is not intended as an obituary for either the XE or E-Pace, that eventuality surely cannot be too far away.
Author’s note: For reasons that are unclear, the reported data set for 2022 auto sales is still incomplete: European sales for December and Chinese sales for November and December 2022 have not yet been posted, while Jaguar now only reports US sales on a quarterly basis, so no fourth-quarter figures have yet been published. An enquiry to Carsalesbase about this issue has not yet been answered. I will return to this piece and edit it to include full-year 2022 figures when they become available. In any event, this will make no difference to the conclusion that the XE and E-Pace have been commercial failures
(1) Young, urban, upwardly-mobile professional.
(2) This is, of course, something of a caricature, but many did conform to it.
(3) So-called because such cars were rarely if ever needed for use directly in the course of business.
(4) Including the coupé and convertible derivatives, now badged 4-Series.
(5) The V6 engine was discontinued in 2019, a victim of emissions regulations, which favoured the smaller powerplants. The V6 engined models were mainly sold in the US. There was also a 5.0-litre V8 in the limited-run SV V8 model.
(6)Production of the XE was transferred to JLR’s Castle Bromwich plant in 2017.
(7) A subtle facelift understated the fact that the 2015 Discovery Sport was given the new platform in 2019.
(8) Just like the unfortunate Jaguar X-type, incidentally.
(9) Which Lane had earlier described as “a touch cutesy” and “curiously tall in the metal”.
(10) All sales data from www.carsalesbase.com.
61 thoughts on “Missing the Marque: Jaguar XE and E-Pace”
The decision not to offer an estate version, or Sportbrake in Jaguar parlance, immediately put the XE at a disadvantage compared to its German rivals and seems inexplicable. The less said about the E-Pace the better.
The XE looks like a Mazda 6. Worse, it looks like an OLD Mazda 6. Jaguar would have to be the most disappointing manufacturer after Cadillac.
Lancia wins that award, jointly with Cadillac, Citroen and Jaguar. Point taken though.
My understanding of quantum physics far exceeds my understanding of why successive managerial teams failed to help Jaguar offer cars more people wanted. (Note: I am a professional quantum physicist, with my own small quantum physics company, no job too small; probably competitive rates too).
This wouldn’t be the first time Mazda has made a car that looks more Jaguar-like than contemporary Jaguars. The early-nineties Mazda Sentia aka 929 immediately comes to mind.
The least expensive XE retails for € 72k in The Netherlands. Way more than a 3 series (€ 52k), C-class (€ 55k) or A4 (€ 47k). While it is true the Jaguar is better equipped than its rivals and the base engine is more powerful, a price gap of € 17k to € 25k is hard to ignore. In case you wonder, The Giulia starts at € 65k.
There are also fewer dealers and if the rumors are through only few dealers will remain here. The future doesn’t look bright for Jaguar.
This is very true. In 2015 i was in a market for a new car, and i really wanted to give XE a chance. Alas, i could not afford one. On the contrary i could afford the German rivals, even if i could not stomach them, and went for something made in France instead.
The neat thing for BMW in the 1970s (with the 2002) and then 316 was that culture and commerce aligned such that the taste of an influential social group gave their cars the imprimature that set them on the course for mainstream success. Today, social interest does not focus on cars that much (rappers, perhaps, and professional football kickers). A great product may not be enough to dislodge other products from their perches in the affections of the public´s arbiters of taste. Arbiters of taste don´t do much arbitration for cars. Even if the XE was really good, when there is no-one around to care, it doesn´t matter too much. As it happened, the XE is not more than quite good.
I think this is a great point. One could argue that something similar happened around Apple and some of its products (iPhone in particular), and I completely agree that younger people in particular are less conscious and emotionally engaged with cars.
For most of us here, car choice is a considered compromise of the emotive and the informed. Many people have cars, but a very small percentage are that interested in them. So, to step away from my incredulity that people choose such-and-such undeserving car and ignore such-and-such much better car, let’s look at phones.
I’m completely disinterested in phones. Like many I have an iPhone because they led the way and so I got locked in to using their apps and became adequately proficient in navigating their OS. There may well be better deals around and phones with more features for entertainment and social media, but to me that’s like telling someone who buys a car for commuting and family holidays, that they should get something that is better for track days. Basically I have an iPhone because, for my limited requirements, it does the job.
If I was in the market for a small, sporty saloon, I’d certainly have looked closely at the XE in preference to the usual suspects. I suspect that its cramped quarters and mediocre engines would have put me off in the end, but there are many cars with those ‘deficiencies’ and many people buy them.
In the end, perhaps it’s just that car companies and car magazines have traditionally been run by older men. For them the name of Jaguar still had resonance, but for the general market in meant little. Sadly it might not have mattered if Jaguar had produced the objectively best car in that market. Because no-one ever laughs at you if you’ve gone Teuton.
The XE had absolutely no USP. Being almost as good as a 3 series in many areas and slightly better to drive is a very weak argument indeed, especially when there are (rightly) so many questions about the integrity and reliability of the product. The Ingenium has turned out to be a disaster of an engine for many owners, I know that BCA have a workshop dedicated entirely to fixing them with very common issues.
Beyond that you have to ask this: What is the point in a bland looking Jaguar?
For all the X and S were perhaps not to the tastes of many (any?) on this blog I have met plenty of strange people who thought they were fabulous looking, and in some cases bought one new, but I’ve never met a soul who thinks the XE and 2nd gen X260 XF are any better than inoffensive.
True. While goofy takes on the Jaguar theme, X & S-type at least paid tribute to their maker’s core attributes.
Agreed. Both my mother and my brother owned S-Types and thought they looked fabulous. The XF they found dull; my mom thought it indistinguishable from the Lexus GS(2nd gen). Their friends and neighbors also spoke positively of their Jags.
Perhaps one can think of the S- and X-Types’ style as akin to heritage revival residential architecture. Aesthetes hate it but the general public laps it up. That not enough buyers chose those two Jaguars probably had a lot more to do with the dealer network, residuals and lingering reliability questions than with their looks.
From the perspective of the German market in order to reach proper sales numbers you have to break onto the corporate leasing market. To do so you need a model range reflecting the full hierarchy of the potential customers and the service infrastructure to back up the cars (about eighty percent of all 5ers and nearly 100 percent of Porsches sold here are corporate leasing objects).
Otherwise you won’t get your products on the user-chooser lists of the great leasing companies and you won’t reach the customers that give the German Three their sales numbers.
To me the XE is the most generic looking Jaguar ever; it looks like you could slap any badge on it and its high performance variants weren’t much better, with their stereotypical big, agressive grilles, and twin exhausts/rear bumper tratments. Even when it came out, the XE looked slightly stale, like it was supposed to have come out two or three years earlier. Kind of what happened to the last Mondeo, which came out about two or three years after its debut as the Ford Fusion in the US; it looked like supper bread made in the morning, i.e. good, but not totally fresh.
A big disappointment because from what I’ve read, the XE is a rather good drive.
The Ingenium engine deserves a j’accuse all of its own.
In less complicated times, in the first half of the second decade of this century, it was seen as the key to JLR’s future. Every couple of months we were served yet another press release about further expansion of the new factory north of Wolverhampton, and the jobs which would be created.
The credulous would imagine that the whole of South Staffordshire would be covered by the factory, and all the region’s people would be gainfully employed there. And of course the engine would be a technological marvel, surpassing every rival. The main planks of this were low friction, and weight reduction. The latter in particular does not bode well – think, if you can bear it, of the Rover K-series.
The reality was that the Ingenium’s design was outsourced to a German specialist, FEV in Aachen, and much of the componentry comes from mainland Europe, mainly Germany and Spain. The claimed £500 million development and tooling / factory cost seems absurdly low. The engine has been far from trouble-free. Some problems are related to the additional layers of complexity modern engines have to suffer, but others are down to cost cutting and light build.
At the 2014 Paris Mondial, I had a good first look at the Ingenium, and immediately noted that the cam chain looked like something from a small child’s bicycle. It’s no surprise that this is one of the widely documented points of failure. It’s compounded by the camshaft drive being at the “wrong” (gearbox) end of the engine, a solecism also committed by fellow FEV clients BMW.
I could go on. Suffice to say I wouldn’t be putting any of my own money that way.
That is very interesting. BMW engines are absolute hand grenades as the car ages, they have to be one of the worst in the industry now for engine durability (obviously VAG will always win that award) so it shouldn’t surprise anyone what a disaster Ingenium has turned out to be.
If you want to reduce weight, don´t look at the engine for marginal savings. Cut weight elsewhere and relocate the engine so any weight is made to contribute to c.o.g benefits. Anyone who has read 50,000 pages of car magazine should know this.
Many engines have their cam drive at the rear end to create free room between rocker cover and bonnet at the front end to meet pedestrian protection regulations.
A madcap result is the chaindrive of Audi’s V8 which is a source of trouble
Dave. I once considered buying a used S8. Had I seen that terrifying photograph I would never even have been tempted.
As for the Ingeniums (Ingenia?), in the years since their appearance characterful internal combustion engines have become less and less apparent, but at the time it was all the more disappointing that they came from Jaguar. If you must take a heritage view of Jaguar, it was never really about chrome grilles, droopy rears or even walnut dashes. It was always about the engine.
There are lots of small factors like the uninspiring styling, dismal interiors, high prices, but yes, I think Robertas has nailed it with the dismal reliability being first and foremost.
The Brit press was very keen to trumpet a few years of Ford-inspired improvements for Jaguar in the JD Power rankings back in the day. For all I know, those improvements were real. But the notoriety of the Ingeniums is, let’s say, a bit more difficult to find references to in those same august publications. Only problem is, if you look on social media, discussion of said issues is widespread, decidedly uncomplimentary, and – not to put too fine a point on it – devastating to Jaguar’s chances of swaying undecided buyers.
A quarter-century ago- it must have been around the time of the launch of the S-Type, in fact – CAR did a feature where they took an old XJ40 to a pile of dealers on Romford Road, to see if the entrenched Arfur Daley-esque perceptions around old Jags had changed along with the company’s then-improving image. One dealer pretty much summed it up with the following, which I think encapsulates Jaguar’s issues now. “Everyone knows Mercs, everyone knows Bee-Ems – you don’t have to sell those. Problem is, everyone knows Jaguar.”
Of course, it’s true that Land Rover is equally hopeless and that fact has never particularly slowed them down any. But I have always seen LR as the exception that proves the rule. Jaguar isn’t lucky enough to get a pass on worthless reliability and some frankly shoddy engineering when the alternatives are more than competent enough. And frankly, outside of an exceedingly select crowd as discussed in the other comments, a Jaguar is no more impressive in social climbing terms to your average car-disinterested humanoid, and arguably less, than any of the usual German suspects.
There are the unquantifiables that are easy to get wrong. I readily concede that my aesthetic preferences aren’t share by everyone here and although to some degree we’re all right, a company can only please a percentage of us.
But quality! Everyone wants that and, in some ways, it should be the easiest thing to achieve, providing you are pedantic and persistent. So if after all this time JLR can’t manage it, they deserve to fail, and ultimately they will.
I think the problem with the hotter BMW engines is that they are virtually race engines being used for the road, without the level of maintenance a race engine gets. Or the skill of racing team mechanics. Just the other night I watched a Youtube teardown of an N63 V8 that had grenaded, and the mechanic showed a whole row of blown-up N63s in his shop.
How much did Ingenium cost JLR? Along with the price of the aluminum platform, it probably explains the cost cutting elsewhere, particularly the dire pre-facelift interiors. For all his faults, does this prove Marchionne’s point that it is capital burning madness that the industry churns out so many different 200hp-ish turbo 2.0 liter fours when one to two suppliers would do?
Ben: The cynic in me would suggest not enough, given the result. But in coldly logical terms, the late Mr. Marchionne was correct. However in brand integrity terms, engines (did) matter. It was apparently Ratan Tata himself who proposed a bespoke engine family, believing (probably correctly) that JLR would not attain parity in perception against the German industry with bought-in power units. His mistake was one of timing – JLR’s of execution. Given that now, what’s left of ICE increasingly amounts in-line fours (and threes) of various capacities, forms of induction and hybridisation, they have become somewhat meaningless. Had Tata left the decision for another couple of years, I’m sure he would have come to a very different set of conclusions, but hindsight etc….
Tata use a Pune-built 1956cc Fiat / GM diesel from the Pratola Serra family in the Harrier and Safari, which sit on a variant of the E-Pace/Evoque/Disco Sport platform. The same engine is used in the India-built MG Hector and Jeep Compass. It doesn’t look as if the diesel Ingenium was ever considered for the Indian suvs. India’s taxation system and buyer preferences still strongly favour diesel, and the Tata / Fiat joint venture was in place over ten years before Tata’s takeover of Jaguar and Land Rover.
There is a second Ingenium production facility in Jiangsu, China, as part of the JLR / Chery joint venture. At its opening in mid-2017 it was stated to have an initial annual capacity of 130,000 units, with potential to expand to 240,000 units. The engines produced seem to be all four cylinder variants, and in 2017 the possibility of exporting engines to the UK was mentioned. For reference, the Wolverhampton EMC’s capacity was stated to be 250,000 engines per year in mid-2017, and JLR stated that 1.5 million Ingeniums had been produced by May 2020.
Honestly, I lay a lot of Jaguar’s modern day failure at the feet of Ian Callum. I know he’s a much vaunted designer given his involvement in the epically beautiful Aston Martin DB9, but I don’t rate a single product he’s designed for Jaguar. His first outing – the plain Jane X150 XK – diminished its impossibly elegant forebear X100, and then his template for the first X250 XF in 2007 created a design language that just didn’t deliver the irrational desirability that should define how a Jaguar looks – neither on XJ, XF, XE, Paces nor F-Type.
His generation of Jaguars are no better looking than any comparable Audi, Mercedes or Lexus. And they should be, as that is what makes a Jaguar first and foremost. And apart from the highpoint of the XJ, the less said about all their interiors the better.
Perhaps the pendulum swung too far the other way after the failures of the S and X Types and conservatism of the first aluminium XJ, but if they looked truly gorgeous outside and in, the story could have been quite different.
Both the XE and E-Pace suffer from the same issue, without the badge they could be absolutely anything.
Getting into competition against the German three requires the ability to compete on price, build quality and range while standing out from them. Neither car seems to do any of these things.
People do seem to like the X and S-Types because they are pastiches of well known Jaguars so sold to people who always wanted a Jag but couldn’t stomach the running costs. The XE’s relationship to the XF Is the same as those chocolate bars sold in Aldi that have similar packaging and names to well known brands but are decidedly below par. The E-Pace could be almost any other dumpy crossover.
Those sales figures are painful to behold. The XE sold in pathetic numbers, the E-Pace not much better. The impact of the former has been catastrophic for JLR’s profits and balance sheet, as the huge up front R&D costs have had to be written off in lumps, rather than allocated as depreciation costs against cars sold.
At least the E-Pace was not a ground-up new model, relying on the old Ford platform which underpinned the Evoque and Disco Sport – it does go to show that, given how little the vast majority of customers care about what they can’t see and touch about a car, it often pays to reuse platforms/ matrices and components over and over if they get the basic job done well enough.
I have read a few articles about Jaguar’s ‘reimagination’, headed by Gerry McG’s design leadership, and can’t help but have concerns. That said, the article by Phil McNamara in Car, states that JLR is now throwing off loads of cash thanks to focusing sales and production on the RR and Defender, with average sales price per unit of close to £80k, hence the desire to be able to sell every example of the next EV Jaguar at more that £100k. The design keeps being described as a ‘copy of nothing’ and somewhat ‘marmite’ in nature. Is it only me who immediately thought ‘not at all like the last XJ then …’. I hope to be proved overly cynical.
A couple of years ago I was looking for a car to eventually replace my trusty Audi.
The ones I would have liked most were the Giulia and XE.
Alfa kicked themselves off my short list through the predictably impossibly unprofessional dealer.
We then had a look at the XE (before the facelift). I would have liked it precisely because of its no-frills styling without all those bulges, creases and folds.
Yes, it was cramped in the rear but this would not have kept me from buying it.
But the material quality of the interior was shockingly bad (particularly when compared to my A4 B6) and precision of build could have been better. When getting out of the car my wife bumped her kneecap against the ventilation outlet dangling under the dashboard next to the A post. Not only was it placed most inconveniently, it was made from silver painted plastic. The absolute low point in quality was the AdBlue filler neck in the boot (where it should not be considering the nasty nature of the stuff when it’s spilled) which was only randomly aligned with the hole in the wobbly, cheap and nasty ‘carpet’ in the boot.
Our country’s Jaguar importer’s HQ is five minutes drive away from my home so it was easy to have a look at all kinds of Jaguars amongst them a sizeable number of then new XEs. Not a single one of them had a properly aligned boot lid and aligned rear lights at the same time. Not without reason did Audi introduce these split rear lights to show the world they’d mastered production precision to make this work. If Jaguar can’t match then, why use this styling feature which unnecessarily cheapens the car when not properly executed?
And that was before the eye watering prices and the strange availability (or not) of options like manual gearboxes for diesel engined cars only.
At the beginning of XE sales Jaguar provided one of the larger rental car companies (Sixt) with a sizeable number of XEs. They made sure that at all important rental stations like FRA airport there was sufficient supply of XEs and there were attractive rental offers to promote them. Within weeks the cars weren’t available anymore because of recalls and action to fix problems with the front suspension, brakes and engines. After a very short time there were no more XEs on the list of available options.
Yes S.V. Robinson,
The ‘copy of nothing’ / marmite mantra does describe the last XJ perfectly. It caused a real shock on release.
I detect a certain animosity between Gerry McGovern and Ian Callum, so I doubt he’d like to be told that his new vision for the brand is really nothing of the sort.
“Rotund failure” is the expression which comes to mind when describing the E-Pace.
It’s almost exactly Qashqai size, but compare the weights:
E-Pace D150 2.0 non-hybrid 2WD: 1809kg
E-Pace P300 2.0 non-hybrid 4WD: 1894kg
E -Pace P300 1.5 PHEV 4WD: 2173kg
Qashqai 2WD 1.3 mild hybrid: 1422kg
Qashqai 4WD 1.3 mild hybrid: 1577kg
Qashqai e-Power 2WD 1.5 series hybrid: 1699kg
The Nissan’s not particularly light, and each Qashqai generation has grown heavier, but it’s nowhere close to the two-ton mark the E-Pace encircles. Even the much larger F-Pace is around 1900kg in four cylinder 4WD specification.
All that ‘epaisseur’ can’t help the smaller suv’s profitability, but that must already have gone out the window long ago with the wildly missed sales targets. It’s probably only survived until now because it shares so much with the Evoque, Disco Sport and Tata Harrier, and possibly contractual obligations to Magna Steyr.
The all aluminium structure didn’t even save any weight. JLR is notorious for underplaying (lying) about the true weight of its cars.
The investment in a bespoke aluminium architecture was a big deal and given much fanfare, but it was the wrong call. Interestingly, the platform that underpins the latest Range Rover is now a mixed material affair, following much of the rest of the industry.
The other bizarre misstep with the XE (and contemporary, 2nd gen XF) was the cheap cabin. But I suspect the two might be related – as the cost of the underlying platform was so high, Jaguar looked to make savings elsewhere, and the interior fixtures and fittings suffered as a result. This dented showroom appeal and sales.
Both you and DaveAR highlight my response to the XE upon introduction in 2015. Absolutely downmarket interior, a nasty surprise.
Now that I’ve also read here about the lousy Ingenium engine, thank goodness I stayed well away. The first XEs for sale here in Canada came exclusively with the 180 bhp diesel for well over a year, limiting sales to about half-a-dozen units total, likely at giveaway prices. Nobody here wanted some noisy ropey diesel, and nobody wanted the downmarket interior.
The 2011 to 2016 BMW 3 Series was sold in North America with the 2.0 litre turbo petrol N20 engine, another typical BMW dud. It ate timing chains, actually the guide at the top between the cams. Another bicycle chain disaster. So BMW was out for me in the 2015 timeframe. At least the B48 engine seems to have been much better since, but the prices are delusional.
As for the E-Pace, it’s a waddling porker. Full stop. The Mazda CX-5 turbo had its measure at a mere trot for two-thirds the price, in every way from interior to get up and go and most especially, reliability and durability. Bland but decent-looking and not a complete rip-off like the Jag. Why is it that the Japanese seem to be able to design and build cars with essentially no errors? My Mazda6 turbo, now almost four years old, has had zero problems, not a one, and no rattles, nothing. And it’s quite decent to drive, with lovely steering. Why would I even consider some European vehicle? The PR mumbo jumbo is 10 times better than the product.
I had the big engined supercharged version of the XE briefly, and it was strangely uninspiring to drive, felt big and heavy regardless of its grunt. The 4 cylinder versions were much more nimble, but as others have noted the dull cheap interiors, poor seats, wobbly infotainment systems etc don’t help. Also the XF was/is the same price second hand here in America, and pretty similar (wagon is also a lovely thing). Updated dashboards were much better, but damage was done. As has previously been discussed on DTW, dynamic capabilities appear a minor sales factor nowadays when almost everything sold is at least competent, alas. And the E-Pace can’t even claim that for itself.
Good afternoon all, and thanks for your most interesting comments. It is a tragedy for Jaguar that they dropped the ball so spectacularly with these models, whose success was vital to ensure the company’s future financial viability. It will be interesting to see how the latest reinvention of the marque unfolds.
Incidentally, we’ve been postponing the publication of this piece, which I wrote back in late February, awaiting publication of December 2022 sales figures. (Figures up to November 2022 were available at that time). Strangely, there has been no update in the published monthly sales figures on http://www.carsalesbase.com in the past three months. I’ve no idea as to why there has been a delay, which seems to affect most if not all marques. In any event, the figures are so damning that there seemed no point in delaying publication further.
Daniel – thank you for the sales figures. The XE was discontinued in the US market after the 2020 model year; sales in calendar years 2021 and 2022 are of unsold MY2020 inventory. The numbers seem to show that less than 2,500 of the facelifted (MY2020-onward) cars were sold in the States. It would be interesting to see the equivalent US year-to-year sales of the Giulia for comparison.
Jaguar has recently announced a cull of its US dealer network; some will convert to standalone Land Rover dealerships, while the ones that remain will have to invest to sell the new electric Jaguar models expected for the 2025 model year. So, sales of the remaining Jaguar models will likely trend only further downward for 2023.
My report – I purchased an ‘off-lease’ 2020 XE last fall to replace my 2018 XF. The interior in the 2020 is a major improvement from the earlier cars and I think compares well to the Germans – as it should be for a car with an original MSRP of $65K USD. I will readily admit I am not an impartial observer when it comes to Jaguar – that said, some of the complaints levelled at the XE in this article and comments are true. The styling is too similar to the XF, and the rear seat and trunk/boot space are lacking. One clear cost-cut that DTW readers would abhor is the trunk/boot lid arms/hinges, which are thick plastic arms that further intrude into the trunk space. My 2003 X-Type has parallelogram-strut trunk lid hinges – Jaguar calls that progress?
Hi Neil. Many thanks for sharing your thoughts on the XE. It’s good to hear from someone who has ownership experience. May I ask how it compares with your second-generation XF, a car I’ve always thought very handsome, but I think I’m in the minority in this regard.
Daniel – the XF I had was a fairly lightly-optioned 2.0 RWD (’25t’). I would describe it as wholly satisfactory as a commuter car but it did not display much of the character of a Jaguar, at least in that spec. It was very efficient for its size. The XF had a light tan-colored interior with imitation leather seats that seemed to show wear too quickly, for example on the rear door scuff panels, which, as you pointed out in your article, are noticeably thicker than in many other sedans and intrude into the rear footwell space, probably due to the design of the car’s aluminum structure. Some cost-cutting was a bit too evident in the interior – the glovebox lid and sides of the transmission tunnel were hard plastic, and the headliner a very thin material that neither felt nor looked nice. The shelf behind the rear headrests was thin (flexed when pressed) and not covered/finished on the boot inside – I have not looked at an E-class recently but I would hope that it has a fully finished boot. The radio/navigation system responded quickly and had good features but the shortcut buttons around the screen were a plastic that felt cheap. I was very impressed with the XF’s multi-element LED headlights which illuminated around corners, though that may be due to lack of comparison. I am sure that the equivalent BMW and Mercedes models perhaps have even more sophisticated lighting.
I had no mechanical issues in my time with the car and Jaguar’s warranty/free scheduled maintenance coverage in the US is very generous, with five years of coverage. The Ingenium engine is a bit rough-sounding on cold startup (also a problem in the XE) but is smooth enough for a four-cylinder once underway. Unfortunately, I do not have direct experience to compare its refinement to the four-cylinder luxury cars from the Germans.
I think a direct comparison to the 2020 XE is not fair as the XE is a more heavily optioned car (a ‘P300’ with AWD, screen dashboard, adaptive suspension, real leather interior with black dash/headliner, and a much more aggressive wheel-and-tire set). It is clear that Jaguar spent money in the XE refresh on the touch points (new dashboard, switchgear, steering wheel for MY2020), and a new radio/navigation system with a very responsive and high-resolution set of screens. (I believe that these updated parts are also shared with the refreshed XF, F-Pace, and I-Pace.)
Interesting comments about the below-par quality of Jaguar interiors. I’ve never sat in a current XE or XF, but the F-Type convertible I briefly owned in 2016 was certainly no paragon in this regard. The indicator stalk felt fragile and ‘sticky’, the electric window switches were poundshop-quailty and there was a raw edge visible on the trim around the transmission lever.
(None of that particularly bothered me, however: it was the unweildiness of the car, caused by its excessive width, that made me get rid of it after just two months.)
A former employer had an XE in which I ended up joining him as a passenger for several hours of a trip including both motorway and winding rural roads. It made an interesting comparison with my own W204 in which I had made the same journey several times. I honestly didn’t notice the plastics being of poor quality, although to be fair one can’t really start prodding and poking the boss’s car to check out the solidity of the mouldings! It did strike me the interior colour wasn’t entirely successful, looking a bit more toffee than cream in hue. The dynamics did impress me from the passenger seat: not quite as soothing as the C-class (but what is?) but with a body control that reminded me of Ford’s Parry-Jones-driven golden period.
It seems to me that ever since the seventies, Jaguar have been doomed to be about a decade behind with just about everything they do, and the XE just personifies that: a competitive driving dynamics led 3 series rival would have been just the thing to have – in 2005…
We come at poor Jaguar from all sides here.
S-Type? Too retro / XJ? : Too different / XE? : Too familiar
My own attitude is that Ian Callum should have stood his ground and refined the language he started with the XJ, which I still admire. But someone obviously blinked and thought otherwise. The comparison of the XE with the similar-to-the-original packaging of budget shop alternatives mentioned above can be extended from the XF to vehicles from other makers, and is even more damning when you consider that modern Jaguars are no longer the Aldi style bargains they once were.
Playing safe apparently isn’t always playing safe.
Jaguar was doomed the minute Adrian Hallmark left the building (and His Bavarian Ralphness entered) . He was the last CEO to have a grasp of what Jaguar is and, just as importantly, is not.
At least on paper, the Bolloré plan sounds a lot like Hallmark’s schemes from 15 years ago.
Am I getting echoes of BL here? Grand schemes designed to be The Breakthrough changed multuple times midway and half-heartedly executed? “Big boy” plans (I mean plans that really only a large manufacturer could afford, like building a 3 series rival) executed on “small fry” budgets compromising everything from engineering, packaging, marketing to quality? Management confusion?
There used to be an XE nearby. Given the quality issues, maybe it isn’t surprising that it is no longer there. Even against a compromised design like the Giulia (which can also be found near where I live) it always struck me as just slightly off and unconvincing. Something about the surfacing, or the stance, which at first glance seem fine, but somehow fall flat on repeat inspection. Or something like that.
Even when they got it right with the I-Pace (and they did so spectacularly, in my view), they couldn’t follow through to keep it competitive. It’s faded away completely after a few years on the market while other established brands introduce EVs not that much more convincing than the I-Pace left right and center and Tesla has been churning out the same car run through a number of Photoshop filters for the better part of a decade, both to great acclaim.
I’m rooting for Jaguar, but…
I just want to write that my heart skips a beat each time I see a XJ
Somehow, I feel it represents true ‘jaguarness’, a true 21st century translation of the original one – hence the true opposite of the pastiche S Eóin showed us in Spain.
The S captured the marque’s old superficial visual clues; the XJ captured its essence.
I am also a fan of the last XJ. Not all of it works (the front elevation in particular, the relationship of the headlamps with the grille, and the panel gap between the nose cone and the leading edge of the bonnet), but it was bold and sleek and imposing. The problem seems to be that for every fan like me (I tend to like bold, brave underdogs) there are at least two visceral objectors.
Hi Gustavo and S.V. The X351 generation XJ really has grown on me too. It’s a proper Jaguar (maybe the last proper Jaguar) and I don’t dislike the front end, even the shut-line between the bonnet and nose cone looks fine to me (amazingly!) The only aspect of the design that really doesn’t work for me is the D-pillar treatment, so I would have a black one in my fantasy garage:
I agree, the black D pillar may be an issue.
But I love it all the same, for two reasons
1 – I feel it is the only Jaguar William Lyons would have approved since the XJ-S (I know, I know…)
2 – I feel it created a ‘new shape’ (a new set of proportions) among big saloons, a task I see as almost impossible.
In a way, I would split all the big saloons shapes in three ‘cathegories’: the CX-C6; the XJ; and all the others (splited between fwd long and rwd short front overhangs)
Ditto on liking the XJ. The rear end doesn’t quite work for me, beginning with the d-pillar of course, but the rear lights, shutlines (you’re rubbing off, Daniel…), the lower end of the bootlid and the overall lines don’t quite do it for me, but the rest is great: stance, elegance, purposeful looks and, like Gustavo says, genuinely different.
The X351 XJ, of all the Ian Callum-helmed Jaguar designs is perhaps the one which comes closest to passing what I call ‘the Sir William test’. It remains a design of tremendous presence and visual poise, but for it to fully ‘work’ it needs to be in the long-wheelbase body, which allows the shape’s visual flamboyance to really shine. The SWB version looks a little fat and somewhat truncated by comparison. The devil is in the detail of course and it goes without saying that Sir William would not have allowed the 351 out the door without a good deal more work on the detailing.
I rather doubt he’d have been much impressed by the styling of the XE or current XF. The less said about the E-Pace thing the better. Another fine mess Sir Ralph…
1-I only saw a couple of XJs on the metal, both LWB. I wasn’t aware of the SWB’s existence…
2-My memory is playing tricks with me: I could swear I saw them equiped with a completely diferent, forward-looking (metalic) dashboard ( the ones I see on Google are comparatively ordinary)
Anyway, the XJ LWB fulfils the Pace, Grace and (not allways much) Space moto.
When you have such a well defined goal, and some money in your pockets, you know which way to go.
Alfa Romeo, when properly funded, gave us the 156; Jaguar gave us the XJ LWB. But unfortunately, not much more
I’m not going to sleep well tonight, after seeing that photo of the Audi timing chains…..
I saw some of these being “married” to their A8 recipients on the production line at Neckarsulm. The very sight of them gave me a headache, bristling with hard to fathom technology – cables and sensors, and forced-induction prostheses, looking like an intensive care patient.
Internal combustion engines were never meant to be like that. The Audi experience reinforced my love of the (just about) surviving American pushrod V8s; the GM LT series, and the Chrysler Hemi, which deliver immense power with the gifts of simplicity and compactness.
My eyes agree with your critical judgement on the XJ’s ‘face’
But my heart falls for it all the same
Finally my brain tells me that it is really a lyon’s face, the thick protuberant nose, menacing eyes and ready to Open mouth. Absolutely ‘lyonomorphic’
I’m talking about the plain 2010 model, it’s the one I’ve ever seen
Tom, about the XJ’s rear…
I know I’ll stretch my point too far, but…
…for me, even the rear lamps remind me of a lyon flexing his legs the moment before he’ll jump.
The all car, seemingly leaning forward, reminds me that situation, actually.
Like the Corvette 3 reminds a shark, without having any obvious ‘sharkness’ on it
Surely one of the most important items in any prestige brand of any product is reliability.
There is no cachet in being stranded. Image won’t get you to work. And once a brand gains a reputation for unreliability, which despite their best efforts seems only to be reinforced with the newer models, then where is the prestige of owning that brand?
It’s only a small step to asking “Well, what’s the point?”
Jaguars always used to have some of the world’s most beautiful bodies, along with amazing engines and chassis dynamics. Now standards are so high, any technical superiority over the competition is incremental. But with dicey engines, and pleasingly modern but generic-looking bodies, whither Jaguar?
Speaking of engines, are today’s prestige brands’ engines getting just too highly-tuned for day-to-day reliability? Or are we looking at substandard design or materials?
Peter, you’re right about the 929/Sentia. A more convincing Jaguar than either the XE or XF. I think that it’s the presence of ‘haunches’ over the rear wheels, as on the first XJ6/12. They give the car a feline litheness missing in the ‘straight line’ Callum Jaguars. It’s almost like in their determination not to be retro, they threw out a key marker of identity.
Thanks for posting the Sentia. There´s a really lovely bit of work. Buick and Mazda seem to have had more fun with Jaguar cues than Jaguar ever did in recent decades.
Great article. Poor Jag just can’t get it right, and I worry about their future as it would be a tragedy to lose them. The XE was mediocre, and the E Pace was poor. Simply not good enough.
Going forward, Jag should be looking at the Audi e-tron, Porsche Taycan, Telsa Model S and Mercedes EQE as their rivals. These are the cars they’ll need to compete against. And they’ll need to make something very special to catch up. Now’s the time to be bold, because they’ve got nothing to lose at this point.
I don’t know if they’ll ever be able to compete in the compact executive car sector, but if they start from the top down, the luxury and executive sectors, and get a foothold maybe they can try again.