With all the hype there’s been around the Jaguar XE, you’d think it was the second coming. It’s certainly A Big Deal for Jaguar, who are relying on it to add a big chunk of sales volume.
It’s a good-looking thing, but a bit too similar to the bigger XF for my liking – I can only tell the difference from the rear and even then double-check the badge. Suitably sporty and Jaguar-like, though. Just get it with bigger wheels than this one wears.
It’s the same inside, where the dashboard is broadly the same as what you’ll find in big brother. But there’s nothing wrong with the design, indeed the cabin is very pleasant place to while away a journey. And the optional InControl Touch Pro infotainment system is a work of true brilliance. Space up front is generous, but the rear quarters are a bit cramped and the boot’s on the small side.
But all that is wiped away when you get driving. You feel like you’re hardwired into the chassis, such is the flood of feedback fed through chassis and steering. It’s precise and agile and comfortable, too. More to the point, it’s just as engaging at a laid-back cruise as it is when taken by the scruff. It’s perhaps a few degrees off the BMW 3-Series, but the Bavarian benchmark has become rather aloof; the Jag is much more intimate.
The 178bhp, 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel engine impresses, too. It’s got more than enough muscle and works well with the optional 8-speed automatic gearbox. It can’t hide its dieselness on start-up and at low speeds, but it settles into the background once up to speed. And you can forgive it for economy figures that no rival can better (the equivalent Audi A4 matches them).
I’ve always held the current Mercedes C-Class as my favourite mid-size executive saloon. It looks fantastic inside and out, is beautifully made and has room to spare. But the Jaguar XE is so much better to drive, it leaves me seriously torn between the two.
Jaguar XE 2.0d 180ps R-Sport
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel
Transmission: 8-speed automatic; rear-wheel-drive
Power/Torque: 178bhp; 317lb/ft
Economy/Emissions: 67.3mpg; 111g/km
Top speed: 140mph
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By Only Motors
- Intimate handling
- Strong economy
- Brilliant infotainment
- Derivative styling
- Cramped rear quarters