Jaguar XE vs rivals – the cars it needs to beat

The motoring press has returned with their impressions of the new Jaguar XE and, by all accounts, it seems the British brand’s on to a winner. It’s been a while since there was a compact executive saloon to challenge those made by Mercedes, BMW or Audi – brands coveted by company car drivers and families alike – so the XE is spoiling for a fight.

New from the ground up, the XE is predominantly made of lightweight aluminium to reduce weight, emissions and fuel consumption. Our full Jaguar XE review explains why the Jag is a great car in isolation, but just how will it stack up against the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Mercedes C-Class and the Lexus IS? Let’s find out.

Jaguar XE vs Audi A4

The Audi A4 is at a clear disadvantage here. Being an Audi, it offers a desirable image, an easy driving experience and robust mechanicals, but the outdated design holds it back. This will change soon because it’s due for replacement in 2015.

On its own, the A4 a stable, competent car, provided you aren’t expecting the ultimate in driving pleasure. Go for the S4 or RS4 and the sheer grunt of the engines will keep you amused, even if they’re not the last word in cornering fun.

The next-generation A4 hasn’t been revealed yet but, if industry sources are to be believed, it should be lighter and feature a decent range of diesel engines – possibly including the 237hp twin-turbo unit from the new Volkswagen Passat.

Audi has an updated infotainment system in its newest cars but this doesn’t feature in the older A4 – the A4’s won’t hold a candle to the XE’s in terms of ease-of-use or screen sharpness. Some critics have noted, however, that Audi’s rotary controller is still favourable to any touch-screen when on the move.

Comparing the new Jaguar XE to the current A4 is comparing two different generations of cars, which isn’t fair. But if you are in the market now, the XE looks to be the better option of the two – although you’ll be able to get far bigger discounts on an A4.

Jaguar XE vs BMW 3 Series

For years, BMW was the go-to brand for those who want a luxurious and refined interior combined with an entertaining driving experience. The competition is catching up fast, however, and critics agree the XE comes very close to beating the BMW 3 Series in terms of driving fun and satisfaction. Most consider the 3 Series the leader in terms of cornering poise and the XE to have the edge on comfort, so try the two cars back-to-back if you can.

If you’re looking for outright performance, the Jaguar’s supercharged V6 petrol that produces 335hp is the only engine to choose – the BMW’s top petrol engine produces almost 30hp less.

It may be close, but BMW is expected to release an updated 3 Series in 2015, so the German giant may make the 3 Series even better. Before then, however, the 3 Series is still one of the best cars on sale, comes with plenty of options and is fairly inexpensive to run.

Jaguar XE vs Mercedes C-Class

Launched in 2014, the Mercedes C-Class is the newest of the XE’s rivals, and its real trump card is an interior that feels like one from a car costing twice as much. We awarded it the carwow interior of the year award for 2014, but the XE doesn’t seem miles behind now.

The XE’s dashboard layout is well laid out, if a little conservative. The Mercedes’ is gorgeous, and then you realise it has a decent 480 litres of boot space (the same as the A4 and 3 Series), beating the XE, which only offers 455 litres.

Jaguar XE vs Lexus IS

There isn’t a diesel version of the Lexus IS compact saloon, which instantly puts it at a considerable disadvantage for company car buyers. It does have petrol and petrol-hybrid variants, however, which will suit city centre commuters well.

The IS is enjoyable in isolation, but when the competition is this intense, the only Japanese brand here is lagging behind. It’s definitely eye-catching, so it might be worth a look if the other cars here send you napping.

The petrol-hybrid IS is frugal and won’t be massively expensive to live with. Jaguar doesn’t offer an XE hybrid version at the moment, but fuel-efficient diesels do much the same job. In terms of driving fun, most reviewers agree that the British car beats the Lexus.

What else?

Size-wise, the Audi A4 is longest at 4.7 metres, the Mercedes C-Class is tallest at 1.44 metres, which means you get decent headroom. In terms of warranty, all except the Audi and the Lexus offer 36 months/unlimited mile warranties, while the A4 and IS are limited to 60,000 miles.

A flaw in the new XE’s armour is you can currently only get it in one body style. The BMW, in particular, comes in an almost bewildering away of shapes using the same basic car underneath: there’s the regular 3 Series saloon, the 4 Series Coupe, the 3 Series Touring (estate to you and us), the 4 Series Gran Coupe, and the 3 Series GT. Similarly Audi offers the A4 saloon, the A5 coupe (three-door), the A4 Avant (estate), and the A5 Sportback (five door). Phew!

Lexus has the IS saloon and the RC Coupe, while Mercedes has both saloon and estate body styles.

Interested in the XE?

Use the carwow configurator to build your perfect junior executive saloon – be it an XE, A4, C-Class or IS. You’ll get some of the best prices in the UK, and certainly some of the best customer service from carwow’s handpicked dealers.

Jaguar XE

One of the best small executive cars you can buy
8.8
£26,990 - £44,995
RRP
Read review Compare offers

Mercedes C-Class

Small executive saloon that's luxurious and refined
7.8
£28,545 - £48,050
RRP
Read review Compare offers

Audi A4

Accomplished executive saloon with best interior in class
8.3
£28,000 - £42,000
RRP
Read review Compare offers
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