2015 Jaguar XE review
It is, at long last, the definite production version of Jaguar’s XE, rival to the BMW 3 Series and flag-bearer for the bold new era of the company. Make no mistake: if all of the recent investment in factory expansion, fresh engines and jobs is to make a scrap of difference in the long run, product like the XE (and the F-Pace that will follow later this year) needs to sell.
It seems to have taken a long time to get to this point – not least because we drove near-production prototypes back in January, and XE-related news has been trickling out since before then.
So perhaps it’s worth a recap, now that the final figures have been released. The rear-drive XE is longer, wider and lower than the 3 Series, and has a slightly longer wheelbase – but despite the extensive use of aluminium in its construction, it’s basically on a par with the BMW on kerbweight.
The front-end styling is unmistakably Jaguar while the side profile has a ‘pulled-back cabin’ that’s designed to stretch the bonnet and make it look more sporty (it doesn’t look under-tyred on 17in or 18in wheels, either). The rear is inoffensive, but lacks the drama of the front.
First, the diesel engine. When we tried the late prototype earlier this year, even Jag admitted that the four-cylinder Ingenium motor still had a fair amount of metallic twang to its note. Not any more. The engine is perhaps no quieter overall than the 320d’s lump, but its tone is smoother and notably more refined. It is worth saying that this advantage seems to strengthen further when the XE’s diesel is paired up with the ZF auto instead of the ZF manual – a result, perhaps, of installation or the space available for sound deadening.
Either way, the diesel is flat at around 1500rpm but picks up north of 1750rpm and is happy to rev to 4000rpm without emitting a harsh tone. It settles down to a distant rumble at motorway speeds, too; you’re far more likely to be bothered by wind noise from the door mirrors, and road roar.
We can think of precious few reasons why you shouldn’t. The gaps between class-leading cars in this sector are sufficiently close for us to want to take a 3 Series and an XE down the same stretch of road before proclaiming the Jaguar to be the better-resolved driver’s car – but even so, on the basis of this test, the new challenger looks a very well-judged compromise between a sporty drive and a long-distance cruiser. The prices are sensible, strong predicted resale values should help leasing and finance rates to be competitive, and the diesels’ CO2 emissions should make the XE stand out on company car sheets.
Jaguar’s stated goal here was to not become another ‘alternative to the big three executive car manufacturers’, a la Lexus, but rather ‘one of the big four’. Every shred of the XE feels like it will propel the firm towards that goal.
Jaguar XE 2.0 diesel R-Sport
Price £33,025; Engine 4 cyls in line, 1999cc, turbodiesel; Power 178bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 317lb ft at 1750-2500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1565kg; Top speed 142mph; 0-62mph 7.4sec; Economy 67.3mpg; CO2 rating/tax band 109g/km, 17 per cent
For the full review go to www.autocar.co.uk/car-review/jaguar/xe/first-drives/2015-jaguar-xe-review