Jaguar set out to make the new XE saloon the best driver’s car in the class and it has the potential.
What’s new? This car is a big deal for Jaguar. Not only does it have to take on very popular German rivals, it also aims to boost its sales volume considerably and bring new customers into the brand. No surprise then that it’s practically 100% new. An all-new aluminium and steel architecture, new engines and new suspension are wrapped in a brand-new exterior design. Inside there’s a new generation infotainment system as well as more personalisation options. Jaguar is making some big claims for the car, particularly that the most efficient diesel version can hit 99g/km of CO2.
Space and practicality For a compact saloon the space inside the XE is generous. Up front there’s a good view thanks to the low dashboard although the high waistline gives a welcome enclosed feeling. Seats are very supportive and offer good adjustment, while head, leg and hip room are good for those over six feet. Space is tighter in the back but there’s enough legroom to take adults comfortably. The boot is well-shaped with up to 455 litres of space. The cabin is clearly laid out and easy to use, with the new infotainment system offering attractive graphics and slick operation. Storage space is good too, although the overall design is a little more conservative than the exterior. Behind the wheel Jaguar set itself the modest target of being the best driver’s car in the class, but it has the potential to do so. The new 2.0-litre diesel engine is usefully brisk in 180PS form as long as there is 2,000rpm showing and the six-speed manual gearbox is slick and satisfying to use. At a cruise the engine is impressively refined, and although noise levels go up when worked hard it never becomes coarse or unrefined. The XE’s chassis impresses with a sporting bias to the suspension but ride quality is excellent, controlled over undulations but with no harshness. Yet it is beautifully balanced and free from roll when pressing on. There is excellent grip front and rear and the XE delights in hustling through bends, remaining composed and entertaining. The final ace card is the steering which, although not packed with feel, is sharp without being nervous, accurate and rewarding. Keen drivers will love it. Value for money There’s no skimping on the standard specification either. Even the base SE model comes with satellite navigation and DAB radio, 17in alloy wheels, cruise control and a leather steering wheel. This top-specification Portfolio comes with double-stitched leather in a choice of colours, aluminium trim, 10-way electric seats, high-specification Meridian audio system, bi-xenon headlights and 18in alloys. Who would buy one? There’s a great deal to love about the XE and, although it wears a premium badge, it’s the kind of car that will appeal to a broad range of buyers. Executive types will love the way it drives and the sharp looks, but it’s also sufficiently spacious that a modestly-sized family could use it all the time. If you have to have a saloon then there’s almost certainly a version to suit your tastes.
* All vehicle images and car descriptions on this site are for illustration and reference purposes only and are not necessarily an accurate representation of the vehicle on offer.
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