GUSMEN has been waiting for the new Jaguar XE for a long time. It’s Jag’s first foray into the compact executive market
The XE had a tough job on its hands to topple the compact exec big guns like the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class, but Jaguar is making it.
The coming success of the XE is down to a mix of stunning looks with cues taken from the F-Type sports car, frugal yet powerful diesel engines and the feeling of high-end luxury thanks to its sumptuous leather-clad interior. These all add up to a package that’s appealing to both private and company car buyers.
About styling, the Jaguar is the better-looking car and, once you’re familiar with it and see them side-by-side, I’m sure you’ll agree. The proportions are more pleasing, the shape and surfaces are more interesting and, well, it’s something different in a sector that’s traditionally rather conservative – without, crucially, being too different.
Jaguar is developing a look that will extend through the range, from the XJ through XF and on to the F-Pace (the first Jaguar Suv coming for June), with wide, slim headlights, an upright grille and a low, sleek bonnet.
The J-Blade LEDS on the XE accentuate the width at the front, as do the F-Type-style rear lights. The low roof-line at the back gives the car a coupe-like stance adding to the drama, with big wheels pushed out to the far corners.
Range topping S variants add beefier front and rear bumpers as well as larger alloy wheels. It’s by far the most handsome XE in the lineup with the more aggressive styling amplifying its coupe like proportions.
The doors open nice and wide at the front and back, making getting in and out easy. The rear seats themselves are also tight on space. Once in, anybody quite taller will find their head brushing the roof, and while knee room is sufficient, there’s not a huge amount of space for your feet. Middle seat passengers will have their knees apart and feet fighting for space with those of passengers sitting in the outer chairs…. No such complaints for those in the front of the XE, where there’s plenty of elbow room and several useful storage compartments.
The XE’s three main rivals all have slightly bigger boots, although the Jaguar’s wide opening and low load lip are welcome.
For the most part, the XE’s dash is quite perfect. Witness the automatic gearbox controller that rises from between the front seats.
In-car tech in the XE marks a step up for Jaguar. The new InControl Touch infotainment system features full Apple and Android smartphone connectivity. The touchscreen itself is intuitive to use, and all models get a good satnav system as standard. The instruments are clear, and the location of the heater controls in their own panel, rather than within the touchscreen system, is a good move as far as ease of use is concerned.
Plus, all XEs come with sat-nav, cruise control, 17-inch alloys and DAB radio as standard.
In terms of engines in the Jaguar XE, there are plenty of options for diesel and petrol fans The Jaguar XE diesel is among the most fuel efficient models in its class, the 161bhp version returning 74mpg, while the 177bhp model manages 67mpg.
Petrol models sacrifice economy for performance, and with figures of 38mpg and 35mpg for the 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre engines respectively also fall short of similarly powerful rivals.
The petrol engines are impressively muted at idle, with a pleasant growl under acceleration. The 2.0-litre diesel is a bit noisy, particularly at idle and when accelerating from low speeds. You can hear it clearly when you are fighting to escape for the traffic.
Jaguar XE models start out with the entry-level SE, and move up through to Prestige, R-Sport and Portfolio specs. The 237bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine is only available in higher-spec R-Sport and Portfolio trims, and the range-topping V6 is only available in bespoke XE S trim level.
The XE fights back once up to speed, where engine noise fades away, there’s barely any wind noise and even the tyres produce nothing more than a quiet hum. Throw in a great driving position, and the result is a very comfortable car for long journeys.
Even the standard passive-suspension car (adaptive suspension is optional) has a fluid, flowing ride but with proper control and not a hint of float when you’re chucking it about with commitment.
As Jaguar’s smallest car, the XE is easy to drive. Rear visibility is a bit restricted by a small, high-mounted window that distorts the shape of any following vehicles.
I drove across ugly-looking broken surfaces at speed around Brussels , yet didn’t feel a trace of excessive harshness or noise. Thankfully !
Handling is agile, confident, precise, full of bite when you press hard. It seems analogue, rather than force-fed; the harder you push, the more it gives back, in a linear and predictable way.
But most important of all is the overall feel of the drive: it’s premium, expensive, benefits from high-level engineering and is far from mainstream. You’re feeling special drivng the he XE feels. It feels like you’d hope a baby Jaguar would… You should ask for a test drive in Jaguar dealer center… And let me know.
The success of the XE is down to a mix of stunning looks with cues taken from the F-Type sport car, frugal yet powerful diesel engines and the feeling of high-end luxury thanks to its sumptuous leather-clad interior.
The Jaguar XE is a highly desirable car that takes the fight to its German rivals in a thoroughly convincing fashion. Totaly tempting !
And if you want to put a smile on your face when you are driving, go for the Jaguar XE. It could help in the traffice these days!