- Efficient four-cylinder petrols and diesels
- More powerful 3.0-litre twin turbo diesel available
- Best for performance is 3.0-litre supercharged petrol
Performance is still at the heart of the way the Jaguar XE drives, but its lightweight aluminium construction and relatively compact engines enables efficiency to prevail - on paper, at least.
Popular suite of diesels
Three diesels are offered in the XE, all based on the same four-cylinder turbocharged unit but tweaked for different power outputs.
Most efficient is the 2.0-litre 163hp rear-wheel drive version, producing 380Nm from 1,750rpm, with claimed figures of 75.0mpg and 99g/km of CO2 for the six-speed manual model.
Top speed is 132mph – as it is for the optional eight-speed automatic variant – although at 8.4 seconds the manual is two-tenths of a second slower in the 0-62mph sprint.
Offering more grunt is the 180hp edition of the same motor known as the 20d, producing 430Nm of torque. Manual and automatic versions post identical 140mph top speeds and 7.8-second 0-62mph times, but there’s also an all-wheel drive automatic to consider.
All-wheel drive also available
In 20d AWD format, the top speed remains at 140mph, but the 0-62mph time is fractionally drawn out to 7.9 seconds.
Featuring a 240hp twin turbo iteration of the engine with standard automatic transmission and all-wheel drive is the 25d AWD, topping the diesel range. Torque’s ramped up to 500Nm from 1,500rpm equating to a 155mph top speed and a 6.1-second 0-62mph time. Despite this, Jaguar still claims 54.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 137g/km.
Torque’s ramped up to 500Nm from 1,500rpm equating to a 155mph top speed and a 6.1-second 0-62mph time. Despite this, Jaguar still claims 54.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 137g/km.
As those figures suggest, acceleration from the 25d is more than brisk enough for most drivers. However, the gruff diesel engine means it’s nowhere near as refined as the 190hp 2.0-litre diesel available in the Audi A4 or that car’s 3.0-litre six-cylinder units with 218hp and 272hp.
The 240hp motor doesn’t feel as at home in the XE as the larger XF either, where it feels like a better fit for the car. Short gearing for the standard-fit automatic gearbox emphasises the sense of speed, though the flipside is that the XE seems to change gear more than is necessary, as it has so many cogs to choose from.
Thankfully, the gearbox is slick enough that it’s unobtrusive enough most of the time.
The original four-cylinder petrols were ousted at the start of 2017 with a pair of Ingenium units taking their place: both are 2.0-litre turbocharged units.
First up is the 20t, a 200hp version producing 320Nm of torque from 1,200rpm and sending its power to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
It’ll reach a top speed of 148mph with a 0-62mph time of 7.1 seconds.
Fundamentally the same engine appears in uprated form in the 25t and 25t AWD XEs, producing 250hp and 365Nm of torque.
Both are electronically governed to 155mph, while the all-wheel drive model is a tenth of a second quicker in the 0-62mph sprint with a time of 6.2 seconds.
As with the 240hp diesel, there’s plenty of punch from the more powerful 2.0-litre petrol model. Refinement is somewhat lacking, however, with the engine feeling loud and coarse when worked hard.
We found the 250hp unit less sporty than the old model and not refined enough to compensate on the luxury front.
The automatic gearbox also feels a little mismatched here; select Dynamic drive mode – which you need to do for weightier steering – and the car holds onto gears for way too long; hardly fitting for a Jaguar.
There is an all-wheel drive option with this engine, though this reduces claimed fuel economy and hinders the feeling of acceleration due to the extra 50kg or so being lugged around. That additional weight means that this XE doesn’t feel quite as brisk as you might expect considering the power on tap.
Flagship XE S
Performance flagship is the 3.0-litre supercharged V6 reserved for the XE S, producing 380hp (a 40hp increase at the start of 2017) and 450Nm of torque from 3,500rpm.
Rear-wheel drive and automatic transmission are the only drive train permutations, but while the top speed is electronically capped at 155mph like the 25t models, the 0-62mph dash requires just five seconds flat to complete.
- Reasonably agile handling
- Ride comfort isn’t compromised
- Do you really need all-wheel drive?
The British company has focused heavily on how well the Jaguar XE handles because it was keen to deliver a car that really appeals to driving enthusiasts. It’s partly succeeded.
At speed it feels assured and agile, and more than capable of sweeping through bends at speed. Push harder, however, and the all-wheel drive versions feel somewhat soft, with the front end sliding wide at reasonably low speeds.
Around town the steering is very light and responsive, and means parking manoeuvres can be completed with little effort on the steering wheel.
Though the sharp steering does make the car feel agile, it is overly light at higher speeds, which means that the XE is not the most fun or engaging model for keener drivers.
The soft suspension means that while the steering is sharp, the body rolls a little more than you’d expect for a car with a sporty billing. Comfort seems to be the main priority, at least in the all-wheel drive versions.
Plenty of technology to flatter the driver
The XE is packed with driver aids, however, including a stability control system that helps prevent accidents from loss of traction, and technology called Torque Vectoring by Braking (TVbB) that utilises the car’s inside brakes when cornering to help pull the car into a tighter turn.
It means if you go into a corner faster than you might wish the Torque Vectoring seamlessly kicks in to keep the car on the optimum line through the corner. It’s virtually impossible to notice as the intervention is subtle and aids safe driving too. The system is fitted as standard to all XEs.
For those who are more concerned about ride comfort and city driving the XE delivers here, too. The ride feels supple and able to isolate passengers from rough, pock-marked roads with considerable ease.
Again, the all-wheel drive models are less impressive, with the suspension failing to insulate passengers from bumps in the road as well as it could, though it’s still pretty comfortable on all but the roughest roads.
Consequently, we’d be cautious about opting for the more expensive all-wheel drive (AWD) system: it works well – perhaps too well as it reins in the playfulness of the XE’s rear end when it’s being driven hard – but few people in the UK live in areas where such a system is necessary. Winter tyres are a much more cost-effective solution for dealing with cold, slippery roads.
- Cabin envelops those in the front seats
- Clean, simple design with few buttons
- Pity it doesn’t feel as high quality as rivals
Jaguar has focused on providing the driver with a wrapped around cabin that helps make you feel part of the XE. The door trims rise to shoulder height with a thick sill at the top, that wraps around the dashboard, just below the windscreen.
In true-to-form style, the centre console is set higher than many rivals’, making you feel snug but not cramped.
Both the analogue and optional digital instrumentation binnacles are easy to read, while the central touchscreen is easy to use, especially on higher spec models with the 10.2-inch InControl Touch Pro package – it’s quick to respond with sharp graphics.
A simple control layout
Selecting desired ventilation settings and – where fitted – heated seats is easy to work on the move, while all other controls use a simple layout and avoid the clutter of myriad buttons and knobs that plague some other cars.
The multi-function steering wheel fitted as standard to every XE is also straight-forward to use with the cruise control functions fitted on one side and audio and driving information adjustments on the other.
The only downside is while the look and feel of the cabin is both robust and looks decent, the material used on the top of the dashboard feels too plasticky despite it looking pleasingly tactile. Audi still leads the class in this regard.
- Comfortable cabin but on the snug side
- Ride comfort remains a Jaguar hallmark
- Opt for the Portfolio for lashings of leather
Jaguar is famed for creating cushy, supremely comfortable cars and the XE is focused on providing a smooth, comfy ride.
Up front the driver and passenger have sports-style seats that provide reasonable shoulder and thigh support even when cornering, while there is plenty of adjustment to ensure that most drivers can find a position to suit.
Higher specification models, such as the Portfolio trim, feature electrically powered adjustment plus full leather interior. Depending on your size, the sports seats in R-Sport models aren’t the most supportive, with the flat seats not providing the greatest back support or grip around bends.
Less than perfect comfort
As a result, we found that these weren’t the most comfortable for longer drives, with the flat seat base leaving one of our team with a numb bum and leg after even a relatively short trip. Therefore, you’ll want to ensure you get an extended test drive before buying an XE to be certain it’s comfortable for you.
Rear seat passengers don’t fare as well for space, as is typical of this class, but there is good leg room and plenty of head and shoulder room for two adults or three small children to travel in comfort.
The ride is particularly impressive as it’s not only supple but it also manages to prevent minor pot holes and pock marked tarmac from being transmitted through to the cabin. It’s an impressive feat given some of the broken, gnarly roads found in Britain.
Four-wheel drive limitations
We found all-wheel drive versions less adept at dealing with bumps, however, as they failed to isolate passengers from the road surface as much as you’d hope on rougher tarmac.
There’s also a little more road and tyre noise than you’d hope, which detracts from comfort on longer trips. It’s far from bad, but the Audi A4 is a quieter place to be at motorway speeds.