Jaguar XE: road test

Posted on May 21st, 2015 by James Luckhurst

Great to drive, smooth and civilised, a classy Jaguar.

Jaguar XE: road test

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What is it?

The XE is the newest model in Jaguar’s range as the company celebrates its 80th anniversary. This compact executive saloon is a rival to the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series.

How safe is it?

Said to have the strongest body of any Jaguar, and bristling with safety technology, the XE should be a very safe car. But it has yet to be tested under the Euro NCAP crash test programme.

Who should buy one?

Savvy drivers who want some enjoyment behind the wheel. The XE is excellent to drive, with strong performance, good refinement and a comfortable cabin. What’s not to like?

Road test by Sue Baker, published 21 May 2015

 

 

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Jaguar XE: road test

This is where the XE excels. Along with its svelte looks and appealing Britishness, the driving experience is what makes this car desirable. It is a class act behind the wheel, with a poise and purposefulness that is very engaging and makes it a really enjoyable car to drive. It has a sports saloon feel to its behaviour, with quick responses and slick handling.

Jaguar has two new Ingenium diesel engines, built in a newly opened factory in Wolverhampton, and they are excellent. They combine strong performance with efficiency and good driving characteristics. We drove the higher powered of the two, with a robust 178bhp power output but modest CO2 emissions of 109 g/km. It gives plenty of punch to the XE, with its lightweight aluminium body and all-up weight of around one and a half tonnes.

There is a sporting edge to the way this car behaves, with its taut chassis and handling precision. Rear-wheel-drive gives the XE a ‘driver’s car’ feel, and it is fun to hustle along a snaky country road. It tucks in to the bends very precisely, and you can make rapid progress across the miles. It would be just as well to opt for the automatic speed limit recognition, to keep you legal in a car that swallows big distances with such verve and minimal drama.

The electric power-assisted steering has a slick, responsive feel that communicates very pertly where the wheels are pointing. Ride quality is generally high, with a sportily firmish feel, but still supple enough to smooth the bumps. The XE has a sophisticated suspension design that achieves a good blend of assured handling and pliant ride quality.

This is a car with an unusually low drag coefficient of just 0.26 Cd, meaning that it moves through the air very cleanly thanks to its smooth, flowing body surfaces. This pays off both in fuel efficiency and refinement. The Ingenium diesel engine is impressively quiet in operation, and there is minimal wind noise to intrude into the cabin. It is swift, quiet and low-fatigue for a long motorway cruise.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Jaguar XE: road test

This is Jaguar’s smallest saloon, at just under 4.7 metres long, but that’s a big enough car to ensure quite generous space inside. Compared with its rivals, the XE is slightly shorter than an Audi A4 but just a little longer than a BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class. The Jaguar’s cabin feels roomy for its overall size, and is perfectly comfortable for a car-load of large adults. Six-footers can sit comfortably in all the seats, although the centre rear seat has the disadvantage of a fat transmission tunnel getting in the way of your feet.

The XE has quite reasonable boot space at 450 litres. That can be increased to 455 litres if you forego a spare wheel. However, it is worth noting that its key rivals can squeeze in a bit more, with all three of the main German opponents boasting luggage room of 480 litres in the back. So the XE’s cargo capacity is very slightly compromised by maximising interior stretch for the driver and passengers.

SAFETY
Jaguar XE: road test

It is too soon to know how the XE will perform in Euro NCAP tests, but the car is well engineered and fitted with safety systems for a high rating. It is said to be the strongest Jaguar ever made, with a steel-reinforced aluminium body shell. It comes equipped with All Surface Progress Control (ASPC), a traction management system that counteracts the slippery surface problems commonly associated with a rear-wheel-drive car.

EQUIPMENT
Jaguar XE: road test

Across the range, every XE comes equipped with a kit list that includes satellite navigation, adaptive cruise control, gloss black trim and a multi-function steering wheel. All except the base SE cars have leather seats and blue ambient lighting. The top-spec Portfolio models have 10-way adjustable electric front seats, aluminium dash inserts and bi-xenon headlamps with LED signature daytime running lights. Options include seat heating, an air conditioned driving seat, and a colour head-up display.

COSTS

Jaguar XE: road test
Prices for the XE range start at £29,775 for a 2.0d SE and rise to £44,865 at the top end for a 3.0i S. The peach of the range is arguably this 2.0d Portfolio with the more powerful of the two new Ingenium diesel engines. Although it is priced at almost £34,000, running costs should be quite reasonable, with a CO2 output of only 109 g/km and a combined fuel figure in the upper-60s per gallon, with low-cost annual car tax.

WE SAY

Great to drive, smooth and civilised, a classy Jaguar.
AT A GLANCE:
Price: from £33,675
Performance: 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds
Economy: 67.3mpg combined
Insurance: TBA
Tax: Band B (£20 first year)

Figures for the XE Portfolio 2.0 Ingenium diesel