What is the Jaguar XE?
The XE is Jaguar’s compact executive four-door saloon and the cheapest route into Jag ownership. Think of it as a shrunken XF Saloon - both conceptually and in its understated wardrobe. Only one bodystyle is available; unlike German rivals, there is no option of an estate, convertible or coupe XE. It’s saloon or nothing.
Rivals to consider if you’re thinking of buying the XE include the more popular Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloons. This German trio provides a degree more choice in engines, trims and bodystyles on offer, or you could take a look at the new Volvo S60 for a more Swedish take on the small business saloon.
The XE may appeal to those wanting a change from the Teutonic hegemony in this compact executive marketplace. They’ll find a slick, if rather unremarkable-looking, four-door that’s tight on space but big on driving thrills.
The Jaguar XE was launched in 2015, succeeding the unloved X-Type in Jaguar’s compact saloon range. With a single bodystyle to choose from, your choices are limited to picking the petrol or diesel engine (there are no hybrids or plug-ins, yet) and then matching it up with the trim level of your choosing.
Most buyers still pick the 2.0-litre diesel engine, which can be ordered in 163hp, 180hp or 240hp outputs; the two more powerful outputs offer all-wheel drive (AWD) if you want the extra traction and security of 4wd. The default powertrain is rear-wheel drive. If you’re suspicious of diesel technology after the emissions scandal, or just do lower annual mileages of around 1000 miles a month or less, you may want to consider one of the 2.0-litre petrols instead - available in 200hp, 250hp or racy 300hp spec. Only the most powerful petrol engine comes with AWD. We detail the brawniest XE SV Project 8 performance saloon separately below.
Once you’ve chosen your engine, it’s on to the trim levels. Choose from SE, Prestige, Portfolio, R-Sport and Landmark specs, each rung of the ladder providing more technology and equipment inside. The most powerful petrol model also comes in a 300 Sport trim.
If you’re shopping for a BMW M3 or Mercedes-AMG C 63 rival from Britain, you’re looking in the right place. The XE SV Project 8 is an extreme, high-performance sports saloon packing 200mph potential into the XE’s rather subdued silhouette. This model looks the business, thanks to its widened stance, a peppering of extra cooling ducts and that giant sports car wing atop the bootlid. It's mean and menacing, where more humdrum XEs can be a shrinking violet.
Your £150,000 premium somehow squeezes a rampant 5.0-litre supercharged V8 into the engine bay where normally a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine would sit. Jaguar’s tuned it to a colossal 600hp, meaning it’ll scarper from 0-60mph in just 3.3 seconds - faster than many Porsches or supercars from Italy!
The Project 8 is an extremely limited edition hotrod, manufactured by the company’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) skunkworks. Only 300 are being made, so you’ll be lucky to find one unregistered. It’s destined to remain a quirky, extreme footnote in the history of the Jaguar XE range.
The regular XE saloon carries a rather more conservative design. Its four-door shape is immediately identifiable as a Jaguar, but its low-slung poise means it’s not the roomiest compact executive saloon around. It can feel quite cramped compared with the roomiest rivals, especially in the back seats.
A series of 2019 model year revisions has pepped-up the Jaguar XE’s styling inside and out, but it’s in the cabin where you’ll notice the biggest changes. The latest 10.0-inch Touch Pro media system is now standard across the whole range, certainly improving the quality of infotainment that buyers in this market now expect. You’ll be swiping and scrolling through the logical menus in no time.
However, it has to be noted that the XE interior still remains a step below the best cabins of rivals in the quality stakes. Prod a few surfaces, shake a few door pockets: it just doesn’t feel quite as premium as the best Germans.
This is where the Jag XE fights back. If quality and accommodation aren’t this saloon’s strong suits, wait until you drive it.
Jaguar’s ride and handling engineers really know their onions, and the XE steers, stops and goes with a pleasing delicacy that you’ll quickly gel with. It’s light on its feet, lacking the stolid Germans’ heft - meaning it’s fun to drive, and remarkably relaxing too.
The Jaguar diesel engine is improving, but its refinement still lags behind Audi’s or BMW’s best, but the Ingenium petrol engines are thankfully sweeter and quieter. But rest assured, there are no bad engine choices here. Pick a diesel if low CO2 is your priority for tax reasons; the petrols arguably drive better.
Prices for the Jaguar XE range kick off at a little over £31,000, putting it on a par with the mostly Germanic competition. Naturally, most owners will be either leasing their XE as a company car or financing it privately; if the latter, there are frequently cheap finance deals, including zero-percent rates, to soften your monthly outgoings.
The outlook for discounts and savings looks positive, as the small Jaguar enters its twilight years. So be sure to shop around if you are looking to buy an XE. We predict you’ll find some cracking deals, as Jaguar can struggle to shift the volumes it requires to keep the UK factories turning over.
See what drivers of the Jaguar XE have to say about their saloon in our user-generated owners’ reviews.
Jaguar XE Model History
- October 2014 – New compact executive saloon with rear-wheel drive available to order with first deliveries in June 2015. Launch specifications are SE, Prestige, Portfolio, R-Sport and S, with a choice of petrol (2.0-litre 200hp and 240hp, as well as a 3.0-litre supercharged 340hp unit for the S) and diesel (2.0-litre 163hp and 180hp) engines.
- November 2015 – All-wheel drive available in conjunction with the 180hp 2.0-litre diesel engines. Further enhancements include the optional InControl Touch Pro multimedia system with a 10.2-inch touchscreen.
- February 2017 – Revisions include the introduction of new 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engines with 200hp (rear-wheel drive only) and 250hp (rear- and all-wheel drive), as well as a 240hp twin-turbo variant of the existing 2.0-litre diesel, only available with all-wheel drive. Power for the 3.0-litre V6 in the XE S increases to 380hp. Other modifications include a Gesture Boot Lid that is opened by waving your foot under the rear bumper, a 12.3-inch TFT virtual instrument cluster and an improved autonomous emergency braking system. An upgrade to the multimedia system enables cashless payment for fuel at Shell filling stations.
- Spring 2018 – Jaguar drops flagship 380hp supercharged V6 XE S model, indirectly replacing it with the 300hp 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder. Landmark Edition also launched, featuring a spec based on the XE R-Sport.
- March 2019 – Facelifted Jaguar XE range goes on sale, with slimmed down range and uplift of interior quality.
You can check out the back story on its predecessor, the Jaguar X-Type, here in our used-car review of that compact executive saloon.
And if you prefer your compact Jaguars small and SUV-like, don't forget to see our review of the E-Pace, the latest bijou crossover to wear the leaping cat badge.