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Jaguar has announced UK pricing for its spangly new 3-Series rival, the XE saloon.

And the number you need to know right now is £26,995. That’s the starting price for the base petrol XE, with the diesel kicking off at £29,775.

That means the littlest Jag is weighing in a little bulkier than the basest 316d, which starts at £25,575. However, the cheapest petrol 3-Series - the 320i - costs £29,070 on the road.

So what do you get for your twenty-something grand? The base petrol XE uses a 197bhp iteration of the 2.0-litre turbo four found in the XF and XJ, which officially returns 37.7mpg and 179g/km of CO2. There’s a more powerful version of the same engine available, making 237bhp and managing the 0-62mph sprint around a second quicker.

Need more power from your petrol? Though there’s no V8 offered yet, you can have a 3.0 V6 XE for £44,870, which gets right up the nose of BMW’s 335i with an output of 335bhp and 332lb ft of torque. The V6 XE will do 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds, and run to a limited 155mph. All petrol XEs come with ZF’s cracking eight-speed auto gearbox as standard.

The diesels, though, will be the big sellers in the UK. Bidding starts with a 161bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel from JLR’s new ‘Ingenium’ modular engine family, with official stats of 75mpg and 99g/km. Yep, that’s a free tax disc right there. The most efficient 3-Series, the 320d ED, makes almost identical power but splutters out 109g/km CO2.

The XE is also available a more powerful version of the same engine, making 178bhp and 316lb ft while returning 67.3mpg and 109g/km of CO2. Both diesels get a six-speed manual as standard, with that eight-speed auto optional.

The XE, we’re told, is the stiffest, slipperiest Jaguar ever built (stop it), with a drag coefficient of just 0.26. Standard kit includes an eight-inch touchscreen hosting sat nav and DAB digital radio. Optional is a laser head-up display (frickin’ lasers’!), which Jag claims is the brightest ever offered on a production car.

Jaguar has also confirmed that it has no plans for a yet-smaller car to rival BMW’s 1-Series, saying the XE ‘completes’ its saloon line-up.

XE order-books open today. Could this be your next company car? Calculators out, user-choosers…

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