You've already seen this car. Jaguar first showed off the entry-level, smartly-sized XE sport sedan back in 2014, and when we drove it earlier this year, it absolutely wowed us. This is the BMW 3-series we've been waiting for, delivered by the Brits.
And we won't have to wait too much longer. Jaguar announced today that the XE will hit U.S. dealers in Spring 2016, with a base price just under $35,000.
For $34,900 ( a $995 destination charge) you can get the base model XE 25t, with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder kicking out 240 horses and 251 lb-ft of torque. The mid-range offering, starting at $36,400, is the XE 20d, powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel shared with Land Rover, making 180 hp and a prodigious 318 lb-ft of torque.
The sportiest model, the XE 35t, brings the familiar, 340-horse supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that makes such glorious noises in the F-Type coupe and convertible. All three engines drive the rear wheels through the excellent ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive is optional on the diesel-powered 20d and the top-range 35t.
And yes: As previously reported, a six-speed manual will be available. The same shift-for-yourself gearbox found in the F-Type will arrive in the XE a few months after the car hits the U.S. market. For now, Jaguar will only commit to offering the stick shift on the base-model, rear-drive 25t with the turbocharged, gasoline-powered four-cylinder XE.
As we remarked during our first drive of the XE, that strategy seems a bit backwards—the days of budget buyers opting for the stick shift to save on sticker price and fuel consumption are long gone, and with cars like the ATS-V and M3 still offering three-pedal transmissions, we find it puzzling that Jaguar wouldn't spec the XE 35t for Save The Manual devotees. We know that transmission fits behind the 3.0-liter V6—a combination that's fantastic in the F-Type. Yes, Jaguar, we're dropping hints.
In this segment, the inevitable benchmark is the BMW M3 (and M4, because everything needs its own alphanumeric name these days). Believe us when we say: The XE 35t is the car we were expecting from BMW. You'd do well to drive one when they hit dealerships in the spring.