The executive and business car markets are dominated by the German triumvirate of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz and have been for a considerable amount of time.
But other premium manufacturers are always trying to stake their claim in the segment and what better way for Jaguar to do so than with the latest version of the XE.
Sitting below the XF and XJ, the XE is the baby executive saloon to take on the likes of the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series and Mercedes C-Class, and on the outset, it looks refined and more than capable of making a challenge. But can it? We get behind the wheel…
We tested the only petrol option Jaguar offers – a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit that produces 247bhp and 365Nm of torque.
It can get up to 60mph in just 5.8 seconds – although it never feels like it can – and goes on to a limited top speed of 155mph. But the problem with petrol engines are that they suffer in terms of efficiency compared to diesel alternatives – and although this engine isn’t quite as efficient as we would like, alternatives are available that make the XE an affordable runner in terms of fuel costs.
Ride & Handling
Where Jaguar models always do well is with how they drive, and the latest XE is no exception. When you put this on a twisty road, it comes into its own as the setup means its sharp on turn in and feels very balanced through the corners. It’s also very comfortable when its settled into a motorway cruise – very handy for the when travelling long distances.
On our test car, 19-inch alloy wheels were fitted, which didn’t lend well to a refined ride – especially when going over potholes – so we would recommend choosing a set of smaller alloys for better comfort.Save money on a new Jaguar XE today
Interior & Equipment
The XE cabin isn’t what you would call inspiring, as the quality and finish isn’t up to the same level as its German rivals – which may put it far behind when choosing which one to go for - but you will still find plenty of good quality equipment
Passenger and storage space also isn’t the best, as the rear seats don’t offer the most head and legroom. It can feel cramped for taller occupants but everyone else should find the rear spacious enough. The boot space isn’t class-leading, but the 455 litres for storage is not bad at all.
Equipment-wise, the XE does come with a lot of equipment as standard in the R-Sport spec we tested. A touchscreen infotainment system, satellite navigation, Bluetooth, smartphone connectivity and heated front seats are all included in the spec, with other features like leather upholstery, emergency braking and lane departure warning also fitted.
Compare trim levels with similarly specced rivals and the XE does rather well, but when looking at our test vehicle, it had been fitted with £16,000-worth of additional equipment – which isn't necessary thanks to the generous amount of standard kit.
Our test vehicle has a starting price of £35,645 with the 2.0-litre petrol engine – which isn’t bad considering what you get as standard. But the aforementioned options fitted drove the price up to an eye-watering £52,190.
With the petrol engine fitted, the quoted fuel economy of 42.2mpg was rarely achieved, so if you're after a more efficient engine go for one of the less powerful petrols or one of the Ingenium diesel units that provide above-average performance in terms of fuel-saving.
There is a lot to like about the XE, such as the smart looks, excellent driving dynamics and good amount of standard equipment that would usually make it a worthy challenger compared to its rivals.
Yes, the petrol unit we tested wasn't the most efficient but other units in the range can do a better job on that front with only a small drop in performance. The rest of the car didn’t quite feel up to scratch with its German contemporaries in terms of interior quality, but consider the amount of standard equipment and you can see why the XE makes sense. For the next edition, Jaguar needs to add more refinement to make it a worthy rival, but for now it is a good-left field choice if you don’t want a German saloon.