- Entertaining drive
- Relevant on-board tech
- Diesel efficiency
- Lacks practicality
- Petrol engines’ economy
- Interior quality questions
As one of 2015’s most anticipated cars, and a key driver of future success for its maker, to say the unveiling of the new Jaguar XE saloon is important really is a quintessential example of British understatement.
Parkers secured an early drive of two prototypes of the Jaguar XE: the 2-litre diesel R-Sport (aimed at company car drivers) and the 3-litre V6 petrol performance version. Early impressions are extremely positive and while it will take a proper test of the final production versions, and a group test against its rivals such as the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the British company certainly seems to have a hit on its hands.
Lower running costs
The all-new Jaguar is made from aluminum in an attempt to keep weight down; the less the saloon weighs than the better the fuel consumption. Jaguar reckons with its all-new diesel engine (there will be more new engines joining the range in the future) the XE saloon can emit as little as 99g/km of CO2 in the lower-powered version.
That means it will currently qualify for free VED car tax while company car drivers will be looking at a Benefit in Kind tax band of 14 percent for the 2015/16 tax year.
The Jaguar XE is very aerodynamic too (it terms of drag coefficient it measures a low 0.26cd) to help improve fuel efficiency, and the new diesel engine should be able to go up to 21,000 miles between services.
Even insurance costs have been looked at with easy to repair items. The front suspension is set up so that if the front wheels suffer a severe knock it is the ‘slip arm’ that bends, saving the suspension. The company reckons it is a simple dealer job to re-set the slip arm and put the wheels back in correct alignment. This could save on expensive repairs.
Safety kit and driver’s aids
Also fitted to all Jaguar XEs is a range of safety kit with the aim of securing the full five-star rating from independent crash experts Euro NCAP.
Not only is the car’s structure optimised for crash protection and will be fitted with the usual range of airbags, the car is fitted with a range of safety kit and driver aids including autonomous braking. This stops the car automatically at speeds of up to 24mph, and will help mitigate a collision of speeds up to 50mph.
It will provide audible warnings and pre-arm the brakes ready to apply maximum braking pressure if the driver intervenes before the system automatically applies the brakes.
Pedestrians benefit too; Jaguar has fitted the XE with a pop-up bonnet that raises up to create a larger deformable area to help protect anyone hitting it from the harder points of the engine beneath. The innovative aspect is that once deployed the bonnet can be pressed back down as it doesn’t use an airbag to lift it.
In-car tech and wi-fi
The Jaguar XE will come with a range of in-car tech including smartphone connectivity. A smartphone can be connected via a USB port and then the car’s eight-inch touchscreen effectively works as an extension of the phone’s.
It enables the driver to access a range of functions and apps including ones for parking, traffic and news, although they do have to be apps optimised for the XE to work on its screen. You can also use your smartphone to check on the XE’s status such as fuel levels and controlling the central locking remotely.
The Jaguar XE uses electric-power steering but with variable, speed-sensitive assistance so at parking speeds a little turn of the wheel gets a bigger move of the front wheels, and at higher speeds it’s less.
On test it provided a keen driving experience and it felt very engaging as it tackled both tight and twisty roads to more open sweeping bends.
There are several electronic systems to aid the driver including Jaguar’s Drive Control – also seen on the bigger XF and XJ saloons - which enable the driver to select different handling modes such as comfort and sport.
You also get an All Surface Progress Control (ASPC) that maximises traction no matter what the conditions are, including dealing with snow or ice.
The range topping S model is powered by a 3-litre V6 supercharged engine that can sprint from 0-60mph in just 4.9 seconds, and provides a seamless sweep of power that builds speed easily. The eight-speed automatic works very well with it too swapping gears with incredible smoothness.
It’s on sale now with prices starting from just under £30,000 with first customer deliveries expected towards the end of Q1 2015. Read on for Parkers’ full Jaguar XE saloon review.