Tuesday, 9 September 2014

XE Launch

YouGov’s poll in the Scottish referendum destroyed any hope Jaguar might have had about front pages and TV news channels. Exploits on or above the Thames presupposed Monday would be a slow news day and it was not. Spectaculars may be great for a management’s morale but good cars don’t need them. Three E-types at Geneva and lunch for press at a lakeside restaurant were enough in 1961. More attainable than a Ferrari, more charismatic than a Rolls-Royce, racier than a Mercedes-Benz the E-type stamped its image on a generation. The Mini made it big with a day’s press testing on a military test track at Chobham.

To be fair it’s not easy nowadays to make much of a new car. You can’t break a story in style. They are so conformist. The new XE looks so much like the XF and XJ it may pass un-noticed. As a family rendition it’s great. It is what the X-type should have been, yet perfectly good though it was, failed at. With a starting price of £27,000 XE takes on the 3-series BMW. It has advantages including being largely aluminium (Jaguar is careful to call it “aluminium-intensive”) and the F-type’s wishbone front suspension and integral link rear promise good handling. It is the most aerodynamic production Jaguar, with a Cd of 0.26. The quick S has an 8-speed automatic.
Unfortunately there is not much new about XE that you can see unless you count “The signature J-Blade running lights; another instantly recognisable Jaguar design element. In the rear lights, a horizontal line intersecting a roundel is a powerful styling feature inherited from the iconic E-type.” The aluminium and the Ingenium engines will be great but the helicoptering and the costly VIP endorsements reveal a collapse of confidence. Winning Le Mans used to be enough to get attention and reassure customers. Now Jaguar puts on stunts and made a great deal of working with “multi-platinum” (whatever that is) singer songwriter Emeli Sandé to create what it called a FEEL XE track, inspired through social media. Fans were asked “What makes you feel Exhilarated?”
Emeli premiered the new track live on the Thames as part of what Jaguar called an exclusive 45-minute set on a floating stage in the middle of the river. Three hundred guests watched from another boat and there was a projection-mapping spectacle on County Hall. “To create a truly stunning setting The London Eye, County Hall and Shell Building were turned red, while a series of red flares were launched along the river to turn the skyline red during the performance.”

BMW and Mercedes-Benz introductions are by comparison low-key. Audi would think it inappropriate. Their cars speak for themselves.

There’s nothing new. Jaguar flew the XE to Earls Court by way of Tower Bridge (left). Ford did the same 44 years ago (right) celebrating its millionth Cortina with a 2-hour flight to a new owner in Ostend.

From next week it's a whole new Dove Publishing. http://www.dovepublishing.co.uk

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