3.8 out of 5 3.8
Parkers overall rating: 3.8 out of 5 3.8

Great to drive and characterful, usefully improved by recent facelift

Jaguar XE (15 on) - rated 3.8 out of 5
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At a glance

New price £34,255 - £46,175
Lease from new From £382 p/m View lease deals
Used price £8,740 - £137,860
Fuel Economy 30.0 - 51.1 mpg
Road tax cost £0 - £475
Insurance group 22 - 50 How much is it to insure?
New

PROS

  • Entertaining handling and great steering
  • Sharp looks on higher-spec versions
  • Diesel efficiency is highly impressive
  • Still the sharpest-driving executive saloon

CONS

  • Lacks rear-seat room
  • Limited range of engines
  • No hybrid or PHEV versions
  • Fun, but falling off the pace

Jaguar XE rivals

Written by Keith Adams on

When the XE arrived on the scene in 2015, it looked like Jaguar finally had the armoury to meet the German premium car manufacturers in one of the most hard-fought market sectors. Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz's dominance of this market are legendary, but Jaguar felt that the XE was good enough to muscle in and sell in big numbers.

But then the SUV revolution happened, and although the XE was good, it failed to make an impact in a shrinking but important market. Suddenly, mid-sized SUVs were all the rage, and the only saloons making hay were the well-established and respected Audi A4, BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. And even they were falling behind their SUV counterparts.

Luckily for Jaguar, its range is littered with SUVs – the F-Pace, E-Pace and all-electric I-Pace are doing good business – but the XE and larger brother XF soldier on, selling far fewer than its maker had hoped. But does that mean you shouldn't look at the XE when choosing your next car? Of course not, as not everyone wants an SUV, and there are still plenty of people out there who want to make an individual statement by not buying a saloon from the Big Three.

What's it like inside?

Jaguar has worked hard here, and it needed to. The original XE’s cabin was admirably contemporary in its design – borderline minimalist, in fact, but in a way that made it look ordinary. There were also too many hard, scratchy plastics to be found, and some of the minor controls weren't up to executive car standards.

All that has changed with the facelift as following on from the 2019 Range Rover Evoque, there's been a general lifting of the quality of materials used in the interior, and general levels of fit and finish. There’s leather, slivers of high grade trim – all upgraded for 2019 – and contemporary Jaguar switchgear. The interior door pulls, glovebox lid and air vent controls, which are important touch points, feel reassuringly solid and pleasant to touch.

The upgraded multimedia systems are a leap ahead of Jaguar’s previous efforts, especially the larger-screened InControl Touch Pro Duo package, which is now offered with three TFT screens, including fully-digital driver's instrumentation (on the top models). Finally, the addition of the I-Pace's steering wheel is a small, but significant improvement.

Equipment upgrades bring it up-to date

Jaguar XE (2020) interior view

The XE boasts a decent range of standard equipment, including, sat-nav, cruise control, 18-inch alloy wheels, DAB radio, Wi-Fi hotspot and an upgraded connected InControl Touch Duo media system first seen in the Range Rover Velar, and now making its way through the rest of the Jaguar Land Rover range. For 2019, the XE slimmed-down model range has been made sportier-looking, with larger wheels all round, and a more traditional-looking gear selector inside in place of the old rotary dial that rose out of the centre console.

The model range now comprises of standard XE and R-Dynamic body variations (different bumpers are the main visual differentiator), and each of those comes in S, SE and HSE flavours. Although that sounds complex, it largely mirrors what its main rivals are doing with M-Sport, S Line and AMG Line options.

Lightweight construction boosts efficiency

As it's billed as the driver's choice in this market sector, the signs look good. For a start, it's light. Helping reduce the XE’s weight is its aluminium-intensive construction, and lighter weight equates to greater efficiency, particularly combined with Jaguar’s efficient family of 2.0-litre, four-cylinder Ingenium petrol and diesel engines.

The XE petrol models are all 2.0-litres and come in 250hp and 300hp forms, while there's one diesel now, which is the D180 (rear- and four-wheel drive available), which averages 57.6mpg on the WLTP real-world fuel consumption test. It was the first diesel car in its class to meet the EU’s RDE2 NOx emissions standard due in January 2021, which means BIK doesn't attract the 4% surcharge older diesels do.

A saloon for sporty drivers

From launch, the XE’s attempted to appeal to keen drivers – something it’s established itself for successfully, easily equalling the BMW 3 Series in terms of its dynamic ability. Made mainly from aluminium, and with a range of fairly powerful engines, the XE is a very satisfying car to drive, equal parts sporting and comfortable, and all the better for it.

The facelift addressed some of the XE’s main shortcomings – namely, the cabin, where the Jag’s plasticky dashboard felt a decade behind the competition. The simplified trim lineup and easy-to-understand trio of engines also makes choosing an XE easier than ever.

Some shortcomings do remain, however – the XE is less practical than even a modestly-sized hatchback, making it a poor choice for families or those who like to carry lots of luggage. It also lacks any form of tax-busting hybrid or electric model, unlike its main rivals. Despite this, there’s still a market for the sporting saloon car – and we think the facelifted XE is well worth among the left-field choices such as the Volvo S60 or Alfa Romeo Giulia.

There's also the Project 8 version, which is a 600hp 5.0-litre supercharged V8 version, making it the most powerful road legal Jaguar in history. However, with numbers limited to 300 in total, it's more of a footnote in the Jaguar XE story. You can read more about this hand-assembled monster in its own review.

Click through the next few pages to read everything you need to know about the Jaguar XE including its practicality, how much it costs to run, what it's like to drive – and whether we recommend buying one.

Jaguar XE (2020) driving, rear view

Jaguar XE rivals