Auto Tech

With accessible XE, Jaguars could be as common as BMWs

The recently unveiled Jaguar XE gives the brand a car that can compete with the BMW 3-series, extending the range of the British automaker to, almost, everyman levels.

Jaguar
Jaguar XE S
Jaguar's new XE model lets the company compete with brands such as BMW and Audi. Jaguar

With its roomy XJ and svelte XK, Jaguar has remained at the upper crust of the automotive world. Even the sporty F-type commands a price making it a toy of the wealthy. But the recently unveiled XE may just be the car that breaks through the glass floor.

Although sporting the signature long Jaguar hood, the XE looks like a conventional premium sedan. It measures 1.5 inches longer than a BMW 3-Series. Although pricing has not been announced yet, the intention seems to be an entry-level sedan for the up-and-coming white collar worker.

Jaguar released engine specifications for the XE S, the sport version of the basic sedan. This model will come with a supercharged 3-liter V-6 producing 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. That is the base engine in the Jaguar F-type. Jaguar will announce less powerful engine options for the XE before launch. This engine is mated to an eight speed automatic transmission, likely to be the only choice.

Expect luxury level interior appointments, along with the debut of a new infotainment system, which Jaguar notes will feature app support. From photos, the infotainment system shows a four-quadrant home screen with areas for phone, navigation, media, and climate on its 8-inch touchscreen.

The XE will also see the debut of a new stereo camera active safety system, similar to that of Subaru's excellent EyeSight system. Using two forward-looking cameras, the system enables adaptive cruise control and pre-collision braking. Jaguar also notes that XE will offer automated parallel parking.

Electric power steering on the XE will be a first for Jaguar. The XE will also be built on a new platform designed to be flexible enough for a wide range of models. As such, it could herald a new era in Jaguar model engineering.

The Jaguar XE goes on sale next year in most of the world, but will not see North American sales until 2016. We will get our first real look at the car during the Paris Motor Show, which CNET begins coverage of on October 2.