Blog : Why the Jaguar XE simply must succeed

Keith Adams

Jaguar XE (2)

The reaction to Jaguar Land Rover’s news that it is now making huge profits has been greeted with universal approval from the industry and enthusiasts. That’s only right and proper because, if the company is doing well and earning billions, then the effects are widespread – not just across the British car and component industry, but also for the country’s economy for a whole.

The news comes at what we might describe as interesting times for parent company Tata. According to the BBC, Tata has suffered from falling profits on the back of a car market that’s stagnating. Worse than that, the Indian car market is genuinely struggling, with deliveries of cars, trucks and buses falling by 36% in the last three months.

In this backdrop, it’s good that Jaguar Land Rover continues to perform so strongly, as Tata Motors will be struggling in the face of its home market difficulties. To put this contrast into perspective, net sales of Tata cars were up 16% to 647.16bn rupees, but the company suffered a foreign exchange loss of 3.55bn rupees.

The good news is that Jaguar Land Rover is clearly weathering its owner’s own problems with considerable style. However, with a range that’s so focused at the premium end of the market, it can’t afford to be too complacent. Although the economy in China or Russia – where JLR is booming – is strong now, if it were to suffer from an Indian-style bump, then that would clearly have serious repercussions.

That’s why the XE is so important for the company. With it comes volume – perhaps JLR will push towards a million cars a year once the family of cars that is spun out of the XE comes on stream – and, with volume, comes a fair degree of future-proofing because, if the worst came to the worst, JLR would be in a much better position to stand on its own two feet with a strong Jaguar selling cars in the huge Audi A4/BMW 3-Series/Mercedes-Benz C-Class market.

That’s a basic industrial truism, of course – it’s easier for a car company to survive the larger it is – and, to continue current impressive growth, JLR really will need to build a world-beating car. The good news is that the aluminium expertise is there, so we know the underpinnings will be light and efficient. We also know that it’s going to handle and ride as well – if not better – than any of its rivals. Big brother, the Jaguar XF might be getting on these days, but dynamically, it more than cuts the mustard.

The only unknown in the mix is the new Ingenium range of engines, which being new from the sump nut up, is going to be cutting edge. Let’s hope the longevity is there as well as the impressive numbers. However, if JLR gets this element right, future success will surely follow – and without the need to buy in any further technology from former parent company, Ford.

As for looking right – I think that’s a given but we will know for certain at the Paris Motor Show this autumn.

So, will Jaguar be able to pull it off with the XE? It’s an interesting question that I’m aching to simply say ‘yes’ to. The engineering and design talent that’s gone into it is unimpeachable, and it’s definitely the right product for now… even if we need it right now. My usual sources are giving nothing away about the new car – instead, they just nod knowingly and say, ‘you wait and see’.

That’s all good, then – but the standard of the opposition is frighteningly high – the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class have all been honed to perfection over a very long time. So, be under no illusion – the scale of the task that’s facing Jaguar is monumental – but I, for one, think that they’re going to pull it off…

Jaguar XE

Keith Adams


  1. As long as we don’t see a repeat of the days of Leyland Trucks subsidising the lossmaking volume car business, this time JLR premium cars profits going to subsidise the Indian car and possibly truck) business.

    At least JLR has proved itself and now is in a good position for reduced cost range extension by platform sharing/ development with other VM’s.

  2. Having seen first hand how disappointed a friend of mine was with his 10 year old, one-owner, low mileage X Type in terms of its quality – he had previously come from old school Volvos and Saab 900s – quality has to be a superordinate goal for the XE. There is no question about this, it has to.

    The suspension components on his X Type were found to be rusting quite badly to the point where they were going to be an MOT failure, including the sub-frames. Rear wheel arches had the same poor design as 1980s Maestros and Montegos where the edges for the inner and outer skins met but were not sealed, thus allowing damp to get trapped in them, followed by rust. Six weeks after the local Jaguar dealer replaced many of these parts, surface corrosion was already forming on the new components. Clearly quality was a big issue with the X Type and hopefully it will not be reflected in the XE.

    The Jaguar name is still viewed by many with suspicion when it comes to quality and some of the Jaguar dealers are certainly not warm and welcoming when you turn up with an older model (such as in Exeter). We were ignored by those in both Sales and Servicing when we turned up to collect the X Type (being in our thirties probably didn’t help either). Together with a snooty receptionist, this has certainly put me off ever wanting to own a Jaguar, if I was ever in a financial position to buy one.

    Clearly Jaguar needs to identify that the XE could potentially bring a new type of customer to their showrooms and needs to ensure that staff are not snooty or rude to those that fall outside of their usual stereotypical Jaguar driver.

    As for my friend’s X Type? He has now sold it and bought something else, as the car had disappointed him greatly. He says he will never buy another Jaguar as the issues already mentioned for his X Type together with annoying electrical faults on his previous S Type, had cost him dearly, both financially and in terms of reliability. If only Saab was still here and building the old 900 or Volvo started churning out 240s and 940s once again, which had served him so well in terms of quality and reliability. He would be very happy!

    In many ways the XE is a vital model for Jaguar in terms of setting a new standard for quality perception and actual quality standards, and also in terms of the service it offers to new and existing customers. I genuinely wish both the XE and Jaguar Cars themselves all the best with looking to address the issues I have highlighted and also in creating a car that leads not follows, in terms of the quality standards already set by its rivals.

    • If anyone has any doubts about durability of X types, they can check my diesel estate – 9.5 years old, 210k miles, still a very relaxing drive. My garage has a pool car estate with 350k on the clock. It’s a bit rough, but it works – how many BM’s and Mercs do you see with that many miles up?
      But I agree that the dealers can be a bit snooty, especially if you buy parts to fit yourself. Best to find a good specialist (this is true for many makes of car, including Vauxhall, in my experience).
      On a less serious note, it was not dealer staff, but another customer, who was rather rude about me parking a 14-yo Mitsubishi outside a Jag dealer. To paraphrase John Wayne, I hadn’t got time to tell him what was on my mind.

  3. The platform for the XE will go under the next XF as well as the Jaguar SUV, and being closely related to the one under the latest RR, RR Sport and future Discovery models, there should be great cost savings. The XE won’t be that small anyway, it’ll be upmarket of the old X-type, with the next XF being larger.

    This Jaguar SUV has the potential to be a massive money spinner, as this sort of road orientated SUV with no proper off road capability is an enormous part of the luxury market now, leaving Land Rover and Range Rover to provide SUVs with genuine off road capability.

  4. The XE is a stunning car, both outside and in, and will be powered by engines that start below 2.0l and rise to, well, acceptably storming.

    I feel that people continue to berate teh X-type and try to associate it with new Jaguar, well, you cant compare a ten year old second hand car to a brand new ground up car.

    Also, i find it amusing that when there is issues, it’s Jaguar this and Jaguar that, yet anything else, its, Ford this and Ford that, well, it seems like you trying to have both your cake and eating it, and you cant do that.

    The XE will be good, and will do everything exceptionally, but Jaguar are not going for mass volume at the expense of quality and service, well are all aware of the dire treatment that you get at BMW and Merc dealers.

    And i can only assume that if some have issues with a Jag dealer, where no one will talk to them, shows somthing more than them being rude. just my thoughts.

  5. Well, I agree totally with @2 that the old X-type was pretty poor. I looked at one and was very disappointed with the cramped interior and then with the reports of various expensive suspension issues. Never mind that even on the 2WD models the boot was compromised by the floor being designed for 4WD. TBH, the association with the Mondeo never did the X-type any favours either, not many wanted a Mondeo diesel engine in their Jag or a Jag on a Mondeo chassis for that matter!

    As the owner of a C class I will await with interest. My Merc has been reliable and economical over the past 18 months and 25,000 miles that I’ve owned it and I wonder if the new Jag will match up in quality. I am one of those people who does not get carried away by gadgets and would rather see a more traditional interior with things like a gear level and handbrake than lots of blue LEDs and touch screens. the overall dimensions will also be interesting, I wonder if Jaguar can pull of “Grace, Space and Pace” again?

  6. @4 Only time will tell whether the XE will be either or both “stunning” and “do everything exceptionally”. I hope they offer an AWD option for the North American market – AWD is a big selling point in the snow belt and Canada.
    As for dealers being rude, its about time manufacturers did something about the massively varying quality of the experience offered in dealers, rather than hiding behind the “its nothing to do with us” excuse. I have found Land Rover and Audi dealers to be pretty poor in the sales area – perhaps as I was looking at a Freelander and A3 respectively which are toward the bottom end of the range offered. The service department at my Audi dealer in Canada put me off so much I off loaded my A4 and I would not go back there to either buy or service another one. I emailed Audi Canada about this; apparently someone from the dealer was supposed to contact me which they never did. When I lived in the UK I used to avoid the VW dealer in Bolton like the plague as they were appalling.

  7. I don’t think the X Type was a bad car, merely it aged very quickly and was not premium in feel, nice leather seats excepted.

    Looking at the orange one above, that is simply stunning while anything German is oh so boring in comparison.
    Whilst most premium cars like this are bought for status rather than a understanding of their dynamics, I am sure this will over match the Germans.

    It has to.

  8. Lets hope these new ‘Ingenium’ engines are good; they need to be ! And lets hope any early issues are dealt with promptly, unlike the festering sore of the blowing head gaskets in the MG Rover K-series, which was only fixed by the Chinese, (their N-series is just an improved K-series)

    As regards the aluminium construction, this is costly, even if it gives advantages. With this cost burden to cover, will the pricing be competitive ? Well, maybe it doesn’t matter, as the F-type sports car prices were set at a very high level, but Jaguar still cannot make enough to meet demand.

  9. @ JagBoy – Comment 4:

    Quote: “And i can only assume that if some have issues with a Jag dealer, where no one will talk to them, shows somthing more than them being rude. just my thoughts.”

    I am not sure what you mean by this. Badly behaved and dressed tyre kickers sporting flip-flops and empty pockets? Hardly. The friend I went with is actually on a very good salary based on their career path. Elitism on the dealer’s part, perhaps?

    You mention that “The XE will be good, and will do everything exceptionally, but Jaguar are not going for mass volume at the expense of quality and service, well are all aware of the dire treatment that you get at BMW and Merc dealers.” Unless you work for Jaguar Land Rover, how do you know this? I am intrigued by your knowledge on this given the limited information ‘leaked’ by the JLR PR office.

    As for Mercedes Benz dealers. I can’t speak for all of them, only the local one on Exeter, and in this case they have offered excellent service to my Father who owns an E-Class estate. Admittedly I am not a fan of the Mercedes Benz product myself, although I can’t say the dealer hasn’t offered a good service. It is because of the poor attitude of sales staff at the aforementioned Jaguar dealership on two separate occasions that saw him crossing the road to a BMW dealership, followed six years later to the Mercedes Benz dealer 40 yards further down the road.

  10. The Jaguar XK, XF and XJ showed that there’s life in the old cat yet. In F-Type, they delivered a sports-car that is up there with the Corvette and the 911 in terms of performance, yet much better looking than either; and that’s after a 40 year vacation from that segment. So, logic says that they can do the same with the XE. Given that they pull it off, they’re suddenly swimming with the big fish, where they have to hit delivery targets, achieve and sustain quality at German (or preferably Japanese) levels, and do it while staying profitable. After 3 decades of false dawns, I should not be optimistic, but I am.

  11. I believe and hope Jaguar has designed the XE to be a step ahead of the “usual suspects” in this market. But, without wanting to sound overly miserable, my somewhat cynical view is that this sector is all about brand and not about the actual quality of the product. I hope I’m wrong but faced with the option of a brilliant Jaguar or an “ok” Audi or BMW…most would still go for the Audi/BMW because “hey…its an Audi/BMW”. Really hope I’m wrong and Jaguar can build a huge following with the more discerning buyer and we can finally get some real choices in a very dull and conservative market sector.

  12. People complain about 10 year old X types.

    Mercedes C classes of the same era are alarmingly prone to corrosion.
    BMW E46s aren’t immune either, and have their fair share of problems – but no-one mentions that, because you aren’t allowed to badmouth the Bavarians.

  13. I beg to differ about the X-Type. I had two. Once it was discontinued, I tried the BMW 3 & the Audi A4, and both had appalling ride comfort. The BMW was a sporty drive, but the Audi wasn’t even that. The suspension of X-Type gave it a ride/handling compromise that I haven’t found elsewhere. There are still a good proportion of old X-Types driving around, so the quality can’t have been that bad. Comparing with a Volvo 240 or 940… those are cars you buy solely because they were designed to survive the Swedish winter. They were old-fashioned when they were launched.

  14. There was a previous blog and discussion on here about how Jaguar have set very ambitious growth targets based on the XE and spinoffs which raised the similar point that they have to get it right. From the noises coming out of JLR all of the stops have been pulled out. Ingenium is a leap into the unknown but it is necessary as the existing customer engines used by Jaguar are uncompetitive on CO2 emissions which is one of the most important factors in selling cars in this sector. Volvo were forced into a similar corner and produced a class-leading diesel unit in the new D4.

    JLR’s track record gives cause to be positive which is why it would be a shame if having got so much right with things like the F-Type they failed to produce a class leader with this. It would be an even bigger shame still if they got it right but the sheeple continued to buy German.

  15. I think this article hits the nail on the head. There is such a high level of competition in this field that the new EX will really have to perform and handle so well to punch into this market. JLRs success has mainly been on expanding their own niche markets to date with Range Rover and the F type. However they seem to have learnt such a great deal over the past few years with the backing of a caring parent that if anyone stands in good stead to do it its JLR.
    Price, performance and handling aside,Id like to see it up close and finished next to the German to compare size and lines.

  16. The XE is stunning, I know, i have seen it, and if teh current history is anything to go by, the XE will be exception, the XF and JR have both trashed its competition, the F-Type too.

    Also with so many changes being made in the plants, to increase cost effectiveness and improve build quality, it is just plain to see.

    I look forward to next June, when my XE wil be sitting on the drive, with the My Rover 827Si.

  17. I hope they get the pricing and engines right. The Evoque looks great but is overpriced and under-engined. If the XE can build image by having a decent V6 at a reasonable price it should start off well. I know that most buyers end up with a 4-cylinder but that’s not the point – in this class it’s all about image and it needs to have the 6. Pricing is important and if they just offer the supercharged V6 petrol for £50k the competitors will be laughing.

  18. I am looking forward to the new XE. I simply cant understand what people are saying about the old X-type in terms of quality/reliability. I manage a fleet made up of almost all manufacturers. Hand on heart the X-type particular the diesel engined models proved to be particularly reliable and in fact were far superior to the German cars. When asked to suggest what car should be bought used, I always recomend the X-Type first. We had a number of them with huge mileages. Other than rear anti-roll bar bushings, stretched door handles and the usual faulty injectors, these acrs were fantastic over high mileages.

    Never seen one suffering from excessive corrosion so cant explain that one.

    Cant wait to try the XE and I hope they will be as reliable as the X-Type.

    By the way, I am fortunate to own a classic 1989 Volvo 240 GLT and can confirm they are built like a tank.

    Love this site and everbodies differing views. Keep it up.

  19. @ Padraic ORiordan:

    How old are the Jaguar X Types when you sell them on after they have served on your fleet?

    I am guessing they are not five years old or more, which is when the aforementioned problems are beginning to be experienced by some owners.

    The Volvo 240 GLT is definitely the pick of the 240 line-up, particularly in pre-catalyst guise. It was a shame that the right-hand drive configuration for the UK market prevented Volvo from offering the official factory-built 240 Turbo variant.

  20. @David 3500 If you thought your experience was bad with the Jaguar dealer I once got thrown out of a Mazda dealership for arriving in a Japanese import MX5. On the other hand one of my local Ford dealers borrowed my 10 year old Ford Racing Puma I had then for it’s stand at a car show.

  21. I too was disappointed with the X-Type. But only about the looks. Behind the wheel, at least the 4WD models were superb. Overall, still not as satisfying as the MG ZT 190 even if this was slightly slower.

    The new XE sounds promising. Hopefully the’ll make them also with proper manual gearboxes (with a clutch pedal). Or is this asking for too much?

  22. An important car, yes. But I don’t think we are in Maestro/Montego “last chance saloon” territory here. (I remember the press trotting that off when those cars where launched – very perceptive). JLR have spent serious money on this car and its new from the ground up. It actually benefits from the excellence of BMW/Audi/Merc offerings as benchmarks. Lets face it, if JLR can make a roaring success of the Evoque, cleverly spun off a modified set of Ford components, it should have no problems with this car.

  23. Hi David3500

    We have had both petrol and diesel variants of the X-type from 2001 straight upto end of production. We managed, maintained and sold nearly 40 in total, and had them on the fleet usually until high mileage. We had them usually upto 7 years and usually sold them with 150,000 miles. We still have a 2006 2.2 Diesel Estate, a 2010 2.2 Diesel Estate and a 2005 2.0 Diesel saloon. The 05 2.0 saloon now has 314,000 kilometeres without any issues. They are always maintained to high standard. Our roads in Ireland do cause premeture wear of the rear anti-roll bar bushings but other than that I have no concerns.

    I still always recommend the X-Type as an excellent buy used and in fact have sold them to my wife and other family members. I rate the X-type amoungst the very top three of used buys, which would in my oppinion include 99 to 05 Lexus IS200 and 01 to 08 Volvo S60.

    And no I dont work for Jaguar. I love older Volvo, early Mercedes-Benz, Saab and BMW. Unfortunately the modern offerings from the premier manufacturers dont match the quality/reliability of the earlier offerings.

    Cant wait for the XE because the XF 2.2 while a fantastic car was not the real replacement for the X-Type. The XFs we have love brake discs/pads but have proved superb over high mileage.

    Love everbodys comments/views. Keep it up. Better than reading car magazines.

  24. XE has the potential to be very flexible offering the possibility of many different body styles thus broadening it’s appeal.. Coupe, convertible, estate and LWB (in China).

    However a Golf/1er type car, suitably designed will be required to compete even further in developing markets and to make a Jaguar that bit nor affordable. I have no doubt hat Gaydon can make this type of car feel no less special to drive.

  25. I really, really want it to do well. But I get a little uneasy when I hear British car makers and the term “world beater” used in tandem…

  26. I hope that they offer non-leather seats. Mercedes and Porsche do. Until they do I will not be buying a Jaguar or Range Rover. When asked about this both the dealer and JLR basically said eff off politely. My next car will either be a MB C or E class or a Macan.

  27. Bit late on this, but I had an X-Type 3.0 Auto. I liked it, however there were numerous niggling faults over the 3 years I owned it which culminated in the automatic gearbox deciding to chew on the 5th gear. It was also incredibly thirsty – the V8 Jaguars I had after this were actually more economical! I bought another Jaguar though, and another after that. Reliability issues are a thing of the past with Jaguars these days – or no worse than any other manufacturer.

    It’s wrong to say that X-Type was a merely a Mondeo – Yes it shared some of the same floorplan, engines and electrical components, but a vast majority of it was designed and signed off by Jaguar (with Ford’s money). One of the reasons why it failed was the fact that a diesel and estate weren’t introduced for 3 years – buyers only had a choice of thirsty V6 engines. Jaguar had for years succeeded in producing good cars on shoestring budgets (compared to Mercedes), but in their aim to vastly increase sales they had dropped the ball.

  28. I wish people would get behind Jaguar more. For two years running, they’ve topped the JD Power survey and the XF has been a big success, finally bringing Jaguar up to date and being a fantastic driver’s car. BMWs, particularly small ones, are overpriced, offer nothing over a Ford Focus if under 2 litres, have coal mine cabins, are lethal in the wet and aren’t particularly reliable.

  29. Today on Midlands BBC they announced the official opening of the XE production at Solihull.

    On the basis that the last CAR not LandRover made there was a Rover then surely this XE needs acclaim as the natural successor to the Rover models before BMW and Ford got involved!

    Best of luck at Lode Lane

  30. The reality is Jaguar is essentially a start up, which is why LR outsell them 6 to 1. IMHO Browns Lane wasn’t a real factory, it was a small trim and assembly shop.

    The S-type and X-type were heavily Ford based and the XJ/XK are niche products. They haven’t built their own engines since 1997.

    XE is really a relaunch of the company – all Jaguar from end to end. Im optimistic though – already seeing a few on the road.

    Also I don’t think JLR is subsidising Tata. JLR has its own capital structure and the rumor is it will be floated on the LSX sometime in the next 5 years.

  31. A strange sort of startup, 84 years on from the first manufacture of the SS . Further, it is clear that Mr David has never been to Brown’s Lane which for about 68 years has produced some of Britain’s most distinguished products ( as did Foleshill before it )

    • But Browns Lane was simply a trim and assembly operation. It never had a press shop, no paint, or component manufacture. Jaguar just assembled parts made by other people. (I worked there for twelve years!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.