The XE is very reasonably priced and will open up the Jaguar brand to many new customers. It looks sublime, is packed with technology and has all the finesse and kudos associated with the distinguished premium car maker’s name. Now available with all-wheel-drive too.
The goodGreat value, dynamic styling and awesome handling
The badTaking on some German giants
Jaguar XE R-Sport 2.0 250PS AWD (2018)
The established German marques have had quite a stranglehold on the compact executive saloon market in recent years with the likes of the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series vying for top spot, but Jaguar aims to make a healthy dent into those sales with its striking XE model.
And if looks are anything to go by, the XE is off to a winning start. Boasting sleek streamlined and aerodynamic curves, 19-inch alloys, sweeping headlights with high beam assist, a panoramic sunroof, privacy glass and some neat chrome trim, the XE is a head-turner from any angle.
And those high standards are carried through into the cabin area. As soon as you open the door you are greeted by illuminated tread-plates carrying the Jaguar script. There is fine leather upholstery, 10-way powered front seats that can be heated, mood lighting, ebony coloured headlining, etched aluminium veneers and plenty of soft-touch surfaces.
The XE is generously equipped with a wealth of on-board technology too, including a 10-inch dual touchscreen, head-up display, heated steering wheel, sat nav with a Meridian surround sound system, full smartphone connectivity and plenty more besides.
An executive saloon needs to fulfil high expectations and meet the demands of the business driver who spends plenty of time behind the wheel but is determined to maintain a degree of exclusivity along the way – the Jaguar XE delivers on all counts.
And while there are more economically-viable diesel versions of the XE on sale, the 2.0-litre 250PS turbopetrol powertrain fitted to our test model delivered all the firepower you could wish for. It could sprint from 0 to 60mph in a rapid 5.8 seconds, maxed out at 155mph and, according to official figures, delivered combined fuel economy of 42.2mpg with carbon emissions of 154g/km.
The XE was also reasonably priced at £35,645, but like rival models the list of optional extras that make everyday driving that much more enjoyable do hike up the costs. The final price-tag of the XE R-Sport was £52,765.
Getting comfortable and finding that perfect driving position inside the car is easy thanks to the extensive level of seat and steering wheel adjustment and although the seats are quite sporty, they offer very good support. I completed a three-hour journey without any breaks and still felt quite refreshed at the end of it.
However, back seat passengers don’t fare quite so well which is quite normal in this type of model. But there is enough leg, head and shoulder space for a couple of adults to travel in comfort – add a third and it all gets a bit too cosy.
The interior of the XE is well thought out with all controls, readouts and instrumentation perfectly positioned for ease of use and the multi-function steering wheel is simple to use as well as the cruise control set-up.
And when it comes to performance, the XE ticks all the right boxes. Out on the open road, the acceleration through the eight-speed automatic transmission is smooth and responsive with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifts for when you fancy taking control of the gear changes. The XE also features the Jaguar Drive Control which allows you to switch between different driving modes – Dynamic is by far the most fun and really sharpens up the car’s reactions and dynamics.
The road-holding is confident, the steering precise and there is no sign of any body sway into tight bends.
In busy city centres, the advanced parking assist pack with surround camera (a £1,610 option) makes light work of any parking issues and the power-operated boot will accommodate plenty of luggage thanks to its 455-litre capacity.
Another plus factor on our test car was the All Surface Progress Control (ASPC) which works like a low speed cruise control offering extra traction. You simply set a target speed between 2mph and 19mph, and the ASPC system will hold you at exactly that. You can increase or decrease the speed with the cruise control switches while moving. The ASPC automatically controls the throttle and the brakes, giving added confidence on slippery, loose, or icy surfaces, as well as on undulating terrain. This proved most useful as a cold snap swept through South Wales during our test and temperatures plummeted to minus five degrees. On low-grip surfaces, it can help you pull away first time and its hill descent function controls your vehicle speed when heading downhill. All you have to do is steer.
The XE also had an all-wheel-drive system for the very best grip. This was one of the many safety features that also included lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and reverse traffic detection, emergency brake assist, blind spot assist and lots more.
All in all, the executive saloon segment is a fiercely competitive sector to battle for sales, but Jaguar has an attractive model that is a fabulous all-rounder and more than capable of taking on the Germans at their own game.
Jaguar XE Portfolio 2.0 180PS manual
When it comes to compact executive saloons the German marques have always had quite a monopoly on the market place, but that was then and this is now. For Jaguar has introduced its very own model to shake things up.
It’s called the XE and has been billed as the company’s most advanced saloon ever. And after a week-long test whereby I clocked up almost 700 miles I found it difficult to find fault no matter how hard I looked.
It looks beautifully classy from any approach and oozes Jaguar’s distinctive DNA at every turn. The design team wanted the XE to look fast even when it was standing still and it does just that thanks to smooth elegant streamlining, 19-inch alloys, a full width sliding panoramic sunroof, sweeping light clusters, privacy glass and much more.
Step inside and all the Jaguar elegance and luxury is immediately apparent with techno treats and creature comforts galore. Features include interior mood lighting, electrically-adjustable seats that can be heated and cooled, a head-up display, an eight-inch colour touchscreen, heated steering wheel, a pitch perfect audio system, sat nav, Bluetooth and all the capabilities to link up to smartphones.
From the build quality and the attention to detail it’s instantly noticeable that Jaguar may be billing the XE as a more affordable model, but they have not scrimped or cut corners in accomplishing the task in hand. There are some really smart touches such as the air vents with the word ‘Jaguar’ across them, mood lighting and a powered tailgate.
I suppose if I were set the task to be particularly critical then the rear seat leg room is a little tight for six-footers, but that aside, the XE is the complete package
The test car in Portfolio trim level was powered by a 2.0-litre 180PS diesel engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. It proved very capable and at ease in congested town centres where the all-round visibility was good, and the sensors and reversing camera made light work of any parking issues. But in reality, it’s out on the faster motorways and country lanes where the vehicle truly excels. The acceleration is beautifully smooth through the gears with ample power on tap for short rapid bursts of pace when needed and then it can comfortably cruise with ease at higher speeds.
The road-holding is assured, the steering is precise and apart from a little road surface noise the cabin is beautifully hushed. I did find the ride a little firm at times but the suspension does succeed in ironing out most of the bumps, dips and unexpected potholes along the way. In fact, it would be fair to say the XE seems to almost glide along at times.
The driver can choose from a range of driving modes – Dynamic, Normal, Eco and Winter – which alter the way the car handles. And as far as performance and economy goes, the XE is right up there with a 0-62mph sprint time of 7.8 seconds, top speed of 140mph, combined fuel efficiency of 67.3mpg and carbon emissions of 109g/km. It’s these impressive figures that will make fleet managers sit up and take notice and all this for the ‘affordable’ price of £33,675 (£44,748 with options).
But unlike some rival executive saloon cars with notable economy statistics, the XE doesn’t feel like it’s lacking in any department. It looks elegant and sporty, handles beautifully and has all the bells and whistles you could possibly wish for.
Admittedly taking on the likes of the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class in their own back yard is no mean feat, but the Jaguar XE is certainly big enough and brave enough to succeed on all counts.
Jaguar XE – first drive
When Jaguar decided it was going to take on the German marques in the compact executive market they took all the know-how of the company’s sporting heritage, mixed it up with the latest technology and expertise and developed the all-new XE.
The company describes the car as the most advanced saloon that Jaguar has ever produced and claims it looks and feels like no other vehicle in its class.
The designers wanted to make a car that looked fast even when it was standing still and it would seem they have succeeded on all counts.
Obviously Jaguar has a rich history for designing fabulous-looking cars with outstanding aerodynamics and the XE is no exception.
Starting from the large upright grille, the car makes a very bold statement and as you move from the athletic front shoulders with LED headlamps and strongly sculpted bonnet, it’s clear the XE is something that’s a little bit special.
The steeply raked windscreen and rising waistline help to accentuate the coupe-like profile and then the rear haunches and taillights are borrowed from the F-Type to portray a very wide stance from behind. It would be fair to say the Jaguar XE has a real presence on the road and the low roofline helps to deliver a sweeping coupe effect.
The interior is pure class with a clutter-free layout that is rich in premium quality materials and cutting edge technology.
A deep centre console, along with wraparound fascia and contour-hugging front seats help to create a cockpit-feel and there are examples of luxurious elegance at every turn.
The main focal point is a crystal clear eight-inch touchscreen which offers easy access to all the car’s sophisticated infotainment systems. There is sat nav, Bluetooth connectivity, a pitch-perfect sound system with DAB radio and even an InControl Remote system that connects you to the car’s features via a smartphone. This can enable the owner to flash and beep the car when searching for it in crowded car park, lock the vehicle from a distance, download data for mileage purposes and call for assistance.
The XE is available with a wide range of the company’s new petrol or diesel engines and in a variety of trims with the entry level model costing £26,995 and prices rising to £44,870. The spec levels are SE, Prestige, R-Sport, Portfolio and S with half the models focusing on luxury and the other half on sportiness.
I tested out a couple of models on a road route that incorporated long, sweeping country lanes, dual carriageways and busy town centres and the performance, driving dynamics and all-round impression was excellent.
First up was the XE Portfolio 2.0 180PS diesel model fitted with the company’s all-new Ingenium powertrain. This model was priced at £35,425 (£45,908 with options). It can sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 7.4 seconds and tops out at 140mph. But the sit-up-and-listen stat is the fuel economy because according to official figures, this particular model can deliver combined efficiency of 67.3mpg with carbon emissions of 111g/km.
Obviously, the BMW 3 Series has set a very high benchmark when it comes to performance in this segment, but the XE certainly seems to match it. Acceleration is smooth and blisteringly quick when needed and the ride is exceptionally comfortable with excellent road-holding. And that means the XE can be thrown into tight bends with confidence.
The highly-efficient insulation drowns out any road surface or engine noise and even when being driven aggressively the XE seems to maintain a refined manner – one that Jaguar owners old and new will always appreciate.
The eight-speed automatic transmission is perfectly tuned and you can use the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifts to take extra control of gear changes if you wish.
Next up was the XE R-Sport 2.0 200PS petrol model priced at £29,740 (£41,530 with optional extras fitted).
This particular model can sprint from 0-60mph in 7.3 seconds and onto a top speed of 147mph. It can achieve 37.7mpg on a combined run with emissions of 179g/km.
Once again the XE was a pure delight to drive. This particular model was more responsive and dynamic in its handling – it seemed a little edgier than the first car, but it still maintained its safe-as-houses characteristics.
And although it was great fun to drive the petrol derivative, it’s clear to see why Jaguar bosses are confident that the vast majority of sales will come powered by diesel engines as they are so much more economical and offer huge financial savings to fleet buyers along the way.
But whatever XE model is chosen, one thing is guaranteed – hours and hours of driving time that will leave you grinning from ear to ear.
It’s true the XE is taking on some very tough competition in the forms of the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class, but Jaguar is certainly flying the flag and has laid down the gauntlet to the Germans with this fine piece of British craftsmanship powered by British-built engines.