Jaguar XE 3.0 V6 Supercharged S early drive

  • Range-topping Jaguar XE (for now) impresses with pace and refinement
  • Costs £44,870 but accelerates from 0-62mph in just 5.1 seconds
  • Economical diesel makes most sense, but this is the XE to buy with your heart

In truth, the key to the Jaguar XE’s success is in the company car market. Low-emission, high economy, well-specced and low-cost examples becoming favourites of fleet buyers and BIK payers countrywide. But everyone, no matter their needs, wants their XE to be like Jaguars of old – fast, lithe, sleek and sexy.

Step forward the XE S, with its 3-litre supercharged V6 petrol engine.

One of seven engines available, this is currently the fastest you can buy. There’s talk of an XE R on the way, but for now this car’s 335bhp and 450Nm of torque will have to suffice. That shouldn’t be a problem, even for the most ardent of petrolheads, as so equipped this XE S will charge from 0-62mph in just 5.1 seconds. As ever, top speed is electronically limited to 155mph.

There’s an ample spread of power and torque through the rev-range, but it’s an engine that enjoys being worked – peak power arrives at 6,500rpm and torque just 2,000rpm earlier. It’s no hardship to explore that area of the rev-counter though, doing so and you'll be rewarded by impressive thrust and a rich exhaust note.

The eight-speed automatic gearbox makes life even easier, as the well-spread ratios mean you’re never far away from that upper powerband. A deft flick of the paddles, mounted behind the steering wheel, soon see you selecting whatever ratio is required.

And that steering is one of the highlights here, with plenty of feel and linear weighting. Placing this car precisely on a bend’s apex is a cinch, and the Jaguar feels limber and agile with reactions as sharp as its namesake.

It’s all strung together with the XE S’ Sport chassis with adaptive suspension, which monitors the wheels up to 500 times a second and adjust the damper’s responses to suit the road surface below. Comfortable at low speed and taut and controlled when travelling faster along a challenging ribbon of blacktop, the XE S’ chassis continues to impress.

There’s a real surefooted sensation when driving the XE S. Before this car, an oft-levelled criticism of high-powered Jaguars was being traction-limited with inconsistent grip levels and lively rear-biased handling. Not so the XE S, which demonstrates plenty of adhesion to the tarmac and confidence-inspiring handling.

Driven so, you’ll feel like you’re piloting a bonafide sports car from the cockpit too, such is the low-lung driver’s seat and dashboard borrowing components, like the three-spoke steering wheel design, from the firm’s F-Type Coupe.

It’s simple and elegant and, as long as you don’t specify the head-up display, the ‘Riva Hoop’ band of trim that runs from the dashboard through to the doors creates an intimate and cocooning cabin. Only the annoying thud as your elbow makes occasional contact with the high-set transmission tunnel’s armrest when twirling the wheel enthusiastically upsets the ambience.

A new infotainment system dubbed InControl (no doubt by the marketing department), displayed through an 8-inch colour touchscreen is a vast improvement on current and Jaguar systems of old. There’s even ample room in the rear, though headroom can be slightly curtailed by that sloping roofline, and the boot will swallow 450 litres of luggage.

Should I buy one?

Clearly most UK owners will end up driving the diesel Jaguar XE, and with good reason too – economical, efficient and far cheaper to buy than this range topping XE S, it makes perfect sense. After all the 2-litre 161bhp XE is twice as economical and half as polluting as this 3-litre supercharged XE S model.

But if costs aren’t a concern, and you want the best Jaguar XE money can (currently) buy, this £44,870 335bhp XE S really is a glorious return to form for the firm.