The brand-new, BMW 3 Series-fighting 2017 Jaguar XE will be built in China, making it the brand’s first model to be manufactured in the Asian country, Auto News reports. Speaking to Jaguar Land Rover global fleet director Ken Forbes, Automotive News Europe learned that the midsize premium sedan will be built alongside the Land Rover Evoque and land Rover Discovery Sport at the company’s assembly plant in Changshu. Although Jag declined to say when XE production would begin, since European sales of the XE start in May, the first sedans are expected to roll off the assembly line in the first half of 2015.

Jaguar’s decision — although not yet official — to make the XE the first China-built model isn’t surprising. According to JLR sales operations director Andy Goss, the XE is expected to help boost Chinese sales beyond the 20,000 units delivered throughout 2014. "Our spearhead vehicle for China is the XE and we think it could make significant inroads — it’s inevitable that’s going to be case," Goss said.

Even though the British automaker hasn’t confirmed whether it will build a long-wheelbase XE version, such a variant is very likely considering China’s demand for roomier interiors. Long-wheelbase versions of the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class are already popular in China and a stretched XE is obviously mandatory for the local market.

Click past the jump to read more about the Jaguar XE.

Why it matters

Building the XE sedan in China is definitely an important moment for Jaguar, which has been making its cars in the United Kingdom since its inception in 1922. Still, the XE isn’t the first Jag to be assembled outside Britain, as the larger XF sedan has been built at JLR’s plant in Pune, India — a factory that’s also slated to build the XJ — since 2013.

This decision is also important from an economic point of view, as importing the XE into China would make it far more expensive than most of its competitors, which are built locally. What’s more, once JLR adds an engine plant in 2015, the XE would become the first Jaguar to be fully assembled outside the United Kingdom.

Times are changing indeed, and while that may affect the brand’s heritage in the eyes of Jaguar purists, it will enable Jaguar to grow and become a stronger competitor to the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz. JLR wants to double sales to 850,000 by 2020 and expanding its production base is the first step toward that goal.

Jaguar XE

2017 Jaguar XE High Resolution Exterior
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Jaguar’s highly anticipated weapon against the BMW 3 Series was unveiled on September 8, 2014 for the 2015 model year, with the U.S.-spec model to arrive in 2016. The sedan is built on bonded and riveted aluminum structures — an aerospace-inspired technology that leads to impressive weight loss — and designed around a new modular platform. 75% percent of the unibody is crafted from lightweight aluminum, while the suspension features a unique, integral-link system tuned to provide improved lateral and longitudinal stiffness.

Styling-wise, the XE blends cues taken from the larger XF with newly designed and sporty character lines. The all-new interior is packed with high-quality materials, including wood veneers, leather and Alcantara. A brand-new infotainment system also debuted in the XE.

A supercharged, 3.0-liter, V-6 engine sourced from the F-Type sports car pumps out 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque in the XE S. The performance sedan needs 4.9 seconds to charge from 0 to 60 mph and hits an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

Source: Automotive News

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