The XE’s fun to drive and comfy, but it’s not as quiet inside as similar German cars when you’re on the motorway
You can get the XE with three diesel engines and three petrols, ranging from a frugal 163hp diesel to a raucous 3.0-litre supercharged petrol V6.
If you do lots of motorway miles then the 180hp 2.0-litre diesel is your best bet. It can’t quite match the fuel-sipping 163hp model’s claimed 75mpg figure but only costs £500 more and its extra power will make overtaking and motorway cruising pretty much stress-free. Jaguar claims it’ll return 67.3mpg, but expect it to achieve around 55mpg in the real world.
A more rapid twin-turbo diesel model is also available for an extra £3,000. It’ll sprint from 0-62mph in just 6.1 seconds but its standard eight-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel-drive system hamper fuel economy – you’ll struggle to crack 50mpg.
The Jaguar XE handles better than a BMW 3 Series – it’s got sharper steering and feels more fun to drive
The entry-level 200hp 2.0-litre petrol is neither as economical nor as fast as the twin-turbo diesel but costs around £9,100 less. It’s smoother and more suitable if you spend most time around town. A quicker 250 and 300hp versions are also offered but – you’ll be lucky to achieve more than 40mpg.
Rounding out the XE’s lineup is a high-performance S model with a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine shared with the F-Type sportscar. This 380hp leaps from 0-62mph in five seconds flat but will struggle to top 30mpg. It’ll also set you back nearly £15,000 more than a top-spec 2.0-litre version – ouch.
The 163hp and 180hp diesel models come with a manual gearbox as standard while all other versions feature an eight-speed automatic. The former feels more direct and satisfying to use than the manual fitted to a BMW 3 Series, but the optional £1,750 automatic is well worth picking to help take the stress out of traffic jams and long journeys.
The XE’s low-slung driving position and terrific front seats make it feel more like a sports car than a stately saloon. The steering is sharp, and its sporty rear suspension helps it grip through fast bends and stops the car from leaning too much in tight corners. Overall, the XE is more fun to drive than the BMW 3 Series – and that’s quite some achievement.
Don’t think the Jaguar is a firm, uncomfortable sports saloon, however. Its suspension does just as good a job of soaking up bumps and potholes as the expensive adaptive dampers offered on a 3 Series. Avoid the firmer R-Sport setup and it even runs the sublime C-Class’ optional air suspension system pretty close in terms of outright comfort.
Unfortunately, you’ll find quite a lot of wind and tyre noise works its way into the XE’s cabin at motorway speeds. It’s not loud enough to be the source of much annoyance – and you can always drown it out with the excellent stereo – but it’s certainly more noticeable than in an Audi A4 or Mercedes C-Class.
The XE’s slick styling gives it a sporty silhouette but it creates some fairly significant blind spots. The wide front door pillars can hide oncoming traffic from view while the small rear windscreen and slim side windows make spotting overtaking cars a bit hit and miss. Thankfully, all models come with rear parking sensors as standard to make parallel parking that little bit easier.
The XE was awarded a five-star safety score from Euro NCAP in 2015. The testing regime has been made stricter since, but the XE is still one of the safest small executive cars you can buy.