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After many, many, many teasers, the Jaguar XE has finally been unveiled. The new compact executive sedan is aiming to take the fight right up to the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 et al, banishing memories of the old Ford Mondeo-based X-Type in the process.

The new contender measures 4,672 mm long, 1,850 mm wide and 1,416 mm tall, with a wheelbase that is 2,835 mm long. To give you a sense of perspective, a F30 3 Series is 48 mm shorter, 39 mm narrower and 13 mm taller than the Jag, while giving away another 25 mm in its wheelbase.

We’ve seen the front of the XE before, with the large, upright front grille, piercing headlights and large air intakes. It’s the rest of the car that interests us, and here, Jaguar has managed to shrink its design language to the smaller format. There are shades of the XF in the side profile, but also of the F-Type in the fender vents, the black side skirts and the light guide in the tail lights. The XE is the most aerodynamically-optimised Jaguar in history, with a a drag coefficient figure of just 0.26 Cd.

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The interior looks immediately like a Jaguar cabin, with that large swathe of a transmission tunnel and an all-encompassing sweep around the dashboard, although the design seems a little more conventional than its siblings. Nestled in the centre console is Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) new InControl infotainment system with an eight-inch touchscreen – the same setup will also make its way to the Land Rover Discovery Sport.

The XE will be the first car powered by JLR’s all-new modular, turbocharged and direct-injected Ingenium engine family, the first mills being 2.0 litre four-cylinder diesels. Clean combustion, variable exhaust valve timing and exhaust gas aftertreatment all allow the powertrains to pass Euro 6 emissions regulations. The 163 PS/380 Nm variant is claimed to be able to achieve a combined fuel consumption figure of 3.8 litres per 100 km and carbon dioxide emissions of just 99 grams per kilometre.

Also from the Ingenium range will be a 2.0 litre petrol four-pots in two states of tune, both of which will be offered with the familiar ZF eight-speed automatic transmission that sees duty in other Jaguars, made lighter for this application.

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At the top of the XE lineup (for now) sits the F-Type’s supercharged 3.0 litre V6 petrol in the XE S seen here. Like the base model of its sports car sibling, the engine produces 340 PS and 450 Nm, enough to propel the sedan from 0-100 km/h in 5.1 seconds on its way to a limited top speed of 250 km/h.

The XE is the first car built on Jaguar’s new modular architecture and features a mostly aluminium structure – its kerb weight starts from just 1,474 kg. F-Type-derived double wishbones are fitted at the front, while the rear suspension is an all-new “Integral Link” setup which is claimed to be found only on more expensive vehicles. New to Jaguar is electric power assisted steering (EPAS) which reduces emissions by up to 3%.

A world-first is All Surface Progress Control (ASPC) developed with the input of JLR’s expertise in off-road traction systems. At low speeds, the system controls the brakes and powertrain to maximise traction in slippery conditions. Also available on the XE will be a compact and lightweight laser head-up display system as well as a stereo camera that provides autonomous emergency braking, traffic sign recognition and lane departure warning functions.

More detailed specifications of the Jaguar XE will be revealed during the car’s appearance at the Paris Motor Show early next month.