£26,990 - £44,995 Price range
34 - 75 MPG
Inside, there’s lashings of wood, leather and brushed aluminium, but almost more important is the introduction of a new InControl infotainment system that brings the XE level with its competitors straight from the off. The general sensation you get sitting in the XE is of quality materials and a cocooned driving position, flanked as you are by windows that are set quite high in the doors.
Handling is top-notch, too. That lightweight construction comes into its own here and the XE also shares suspension components with the sporty F-Type. Even if you pick the Comfort suspension setup (you can also choose from Sport and Adaptive), the XE feels agile in the corners.
The XE’s engines play a huge part in the car’s impressive wowscore. The diesels are part of a new breed of lightweight, efficient engines called ‘Ingenium’. You can pick from a four-cylinder 2.0-litre diesel and petrol, with lots of power and also ducking below the magic 100g/km CO2 figure for free road tax. At launch the XE can also be ordered with a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 that’s been transplanted from the F-Type S.
Even the base SE model features standard kit such as the JaguarDrive infotainment, sat nav, cruise control and DAB digital radio, but we recommend choosing the Prestige model, which gets leather upholstery as standard.
A sporty drive is central to any Jaguar and that athletic feel starts from the driver’s seat. Like most Jags that precede it, the XE cocoons its owner thanks to a raised transmission tunnel and high-set window line, which makes it feel more purposeful than its rivals. Another cornerstone of the Jaguar experience, a sense of luxury, comes in the form of expensive materials covering most of the car’s interior – leather upholstery comes in all but the basic model.
The dash design could be more exciting – there’s little of the wow factor provided by the Jaguar XF at its launch – but gimmicks have arguably been sidestepped in the quest for everyday usability. A lot of that can be attributed to the new infotainment system called InControl. It’s a huge step up from Jaguar’s old system thanks to its crisp graphics, quick processing times and ability to integrate with the apps on your smartphone.For £1,250 extra you can spec the upgraded InControl Pro system which not only comes with a larger 10.2-inch touchscreen (up from 8.0in) that lets you navigate menus easier, but it can also serve as a wi-fi hotspot for up to eight devices.
Jaguar XE passenger space
To call the Jaguar XE spacious would be to tell a patriotically-induced white lie, but it’s comparable to the space you would find in its BMW 3 Series rival. In real terms that means there is plenty of room for adults up front, but not so much in the back. There, legroom matches what you get in the BMW, but an adult’s top half will feel squeezed by the low roofline and seemingly tighter interior. Outside the Jaguar is actually slightly wider than the BMW.
Jaguar offers broadly the same interior storage space as you would expect from any of its competitors, so there are pockets in all four doors, a pair of cupholders in the front and a lidded cubby that doubles as a front-centre armrest.
Jaguar XE boot space
With 455-litres of boot space – if you choose a bottle of puncture-repair foam, rather than a spare tyre – the Jaguar can’t match the capacity of the BMW 3 Series (480 litres), Mercedes C-Class (480 litres) or Audi A4 (490 litres) but, you’ll be relieved to hear, golf bags do fit.
In driving terms, Jaguar seems to have crafted the XE as the perfect allrounder – its more comfortable than a BMW 3 Series, but not as slow-witted as the somewhat disappointing C-Class. No matter how you choose to specify your XE, it feels on the ball and up to the challenge.
That’s a good thing, because there are a variety of dynamic setups at you disposal. Probably the most important of these is the option to choose one of three suspension setups – Comfort, Sport and Adaptive.
Even Comfort feels surprisingly firm, yet manages to stave off the worst of road imperfections with only short, sharp undulations upsetting things. While not feeling any stiffer in terms of compliance, Sport gives even more body control so that you can attack a series of corners without the worrying the car could get away from you.
Unlike in the BMW 3 Series, which only truly comes alive when fitted with optional adaptive dampers, in the XE, the Adaptive setup is a-take-it-or-leave-it addition – proving slightly more compliant than Sport, but offering little in the way of additional body control.
Out on the motorway, somewhere most XEs will spend a lot of their time, the car is quiet and comfortable. Engine noise is nearly completely absent in petrol models and barely noticeable in diesels, while only some tyre and wind noise makes its way into the cabin.
Better, then, to go for the automatic, the operation of which Jaguar engineers have apparently honed in the XF and F-Type. That tinkering means the gears feel perfectly matched to the engine’s power band and changes are swift. It also comes with paddles that allow for quick manual changes on the odd occasion that the gearbox doesn’t act as quickly as you would like. Testers seem to agree that there’s little to split an automatic XE from the BMW 3 Series auto, which uses the same gearbox.
British car fans that remember some of Jaguar’s classic misjudgements of the past – such as launching the XF without a frugal diesel engine – will be relieved to hear that all is well in the XE. In fact, for a brief period at least, Jaguar’s range of high-tech Ingenium engines will lead the field.
Jaguar XE diesel engines
That means the XE comes to market with an entry-level 161hp diesel engine that (when mated to a manual gearbox) is free to tax. That’s something even the mighty 3 Series has yet to achieve. The BMW will have to go some to better the Jag’s 74.3mpg fuel economy figure and the 8.4 seconds it takes to gallop from 0-62mph.
If you crave more performance, the 178hp diesel might be more suited to your needs. It costs £20 annually to tax and returns 67.3mpg, but rewards those oh-so-slightly-higher running costs with a 0-62mph time half a second quicker than its competitor. You can also have this engine with a four-wheel drive system. It’s a rear-biased system, so most of the time the AWD XE feels just like a regular model with 100kg worth of passengers – that’s how much weight it adds. Inevitably CO2 emissions and fuel economy suffer, but not by much and the 60mpg and 123g/km of CO2 are competitive with four-wheel drive BMWs and Audis.
Jaguar XE petrol engines
Of the petrol engines – all of which get the automatic gearbox – it’s the 237hp four-cylinder 2.0-litre Ingenium unit that seems to be the favourite with testers. It may not sound as sporty as the bigger V6 option, but it feels quick right from the get-go, as well as being smooth and refined in its operation. It leaps from 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds and tops out at 155mph, but running costs go skyward, too – emissions of 179g/km mean tax is £225 annually and fuel economy sits at 37.7mpg.
The other 2.0-litre petrol produces 200hp, which is enough to get the XE from 0-62mph in a spritely 7.3 seconds (making a likeable sound in the process), while its top speed of 147mph means it’s very refined at the 70mph legal limit. Testers also report it revs smoothly and is quiet at tick over. It’s less economical than the diesels too – fuel economy is quoted at 37.7mpg with CO2 emissions of 179g/km, so makes the most sense for private buyers covering a relatively low annual mileage.
Jaguar XE S
Although a V8 engine option seems inevitable, for now, it’s the supercharged 3.0-litre V6 that tops the XE range in the form of the XE S. It gets from 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds, quite fast enough you would have thought, however, testers report it never feels as quick as the figures suggest. With the added performance comes a corresponding rise in running costs, too, meaning road tax rises to £265 and fuel economy drops to 34.9mpg.
Testers say it’s the best-driving version of the XE, that it feels ‘very swift’, dramatic and – impressively – comfortable. It masks bumps in the road, but at the same time gives you the confidence you need to drive fast along twisty roads, with good amounts of grip. It’ll also play the hooligan and oversteer, allowing skilled drivers to skid the back end of the car out in corners if they so wish.
Like most modern cars, the XE comes with a full suite of active and passive safety technologies to keep you safe and pointing the right direction. Complementing the standard traction and stability control is Jaguar Land Rover’s new All Surface Progress Control – a system that automatically moves the car off from a standstill in slippery conditions to prevent wheel spin. It’s not surprising, then that the XE got the full five-star safety score from Euro NCAP with high scores across all categories.
The aluminium body of the XE should be very strong if you’re involved in an impact so will provide ample protection for occupants. Buyers beware – if you do have a smash, aluminium is costlier than steel so you might have to shell out more to repair accident damage.
Compared to the big three German rivals, the XE is marginally more expensive.
Jaguar XE SE
Jaguar hasn’t scrimped on kit, though, so all XE’s come with sat-nav, DAB radio, cruise control, autonomous braking and a lane departure warning system.
Jaguar XE Prestige
Step from SE to Prestige trim and that list grows to include a leather interior (arguably a must in a Jaguar), heated front seats, aluminium trim and a more aggressive look on the outside.
Jaguar XE R-Sport
R-Sport models (Jaguar’s answer to BMW’s M Sport) look even sportier on the outside thanks to a subtle body kit, 18-inch wheels and bi-xenon headlights, while Portfolio models add luxury in the form of 10-way electric front seats and a powerful Meridan stereo.
Jaguar XE S
The 3.0-litre supercharged XE S sits at the top of the range and comes with keyless entry and go, 19-inch alloy wheels, a powered boot lid and adaptive dynamics.
The XE is one of those cars the entire car industry looks to with interest. It’s not often a car comes along that can realistically challenge the BMW 3 Series’ dominance of the sector. On the strength of the opinions provided by experts, it seems Jaguar has hit the nail on the head.
The XE is remarkably comfortable but, unlike some rivals, manages to also feel agile and alert when you’re in the mood to drive quickly. Overall, this is the most serious threat to the BMW 3 Series the industry has ever seen.