Not that it matters a jot now for a car that’s among the most beautiful and successful racing creations this country has ever come up with, but the Jaguar D-type did not win its first race at Le Mans in 1954. Its debut win came three weeks later, not in La Sarthe but in Champagne, at the Reims 12 Hours. The car was driven by Ken Wharton and Peter Whitehead and completed over 2,000km at an average speed of 105mph. It would not be the first win for the mighty D-type…
Sixty five years – and a plethora of Jaguar motorsport highlights – later, we have the Jaguar XE Reims Edition, Jag’s attempt to inject some of its glorious competition heritage into its compact saloon.
Giving a “junior exec”, as cars in this class used to be called, a colour-and-trim update and an interesting back story may fall short of justifying the name in the eyes of purists but, heck, that’s marketing. And a higher profile for a car as intrinsically good as the XE is no bad thing.
Compact Jag saloons over the decades have been both game-changing and mind-numbing, and coming up with the first since the unfortunate X-Type was always going to be a challenge, not least since it would be required to go head to head with the seemingly impregnable German trio of C-Class, 3 Series and A4. But the 2015 Jaguar XE was unmistakably Jaguar enough to bring classy new attributes to this highly competitive class, while a mid-life refresh earlier this year brings a much improved new interior to complement its excellent design and chassis.
And yet the XE is still something of an unsung hero. Maybe the Reims Edition can change that?