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View all Jaguar XE reviews
Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Great to drive and characterful, usefully improved by minor facelift

Jaguar XE (15 on) - rated 4 out of 5
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PROS

  • Entertaining handling and great steering
  • Sharp looks on higher-spec versions
  • Diesel efficiency is highly impressive

CONS

  • Lacks rear-seat room
  • Limited range of engines
  • No hybrid or PHEV versions

PROS

  • Entertaining handling and great steering
  • Sharp looks on higher-spec versions
  • Diesel efficiency is highly impressive

CONS

  • Lacks rear-seat room
  • Limited range of engines
  • No hybrid or PHEV versions

Jaguar XE rivals

The Jaguar XE was the British manufacturer’s difficult second album in the compact executive car sector. It followed on from the X-Type, which, while not critically praised, was somewhat of a sales success.

The XE seemed to have all the ingredients to sell well – good looks, great driving manners and a premium badge – but Jaguar was forced to sit back and watch its baby sell relatively slowly while rivals such as the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class flew out of showrooms at record pace. In fact, those three models have consistently been some of the best-selling cars in the UK, while the plucky Brit languishes below.

A mid-life facelift has certainly bolstered the Jaguar’s appeal, improving it in key areas where it lagged behind the competition. The new dashboard in particular is a massive upgrade, while the simplified and generous engine line-up should help win buyers over, or at least cement the few that the XE already has.

There’s certainly a tough obstacle for Jaguar to mount. Not only do buyers prefer the Jag’s other rivals, but an increasing number of motorists are opting instead for SUVs such as the E-Pace and the F-Pace, favouring their lofty driving position and practical interiors.

Despite this, there’s still a market for the sporting saloon car – and we think the facelifted XE is well worth considering, among its mainstream rivals or even more leftfield alternatives such as the Volvo S60 or Alfa Romeo Giulia.

Aluminium 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 heft 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.

For the 2019 facelift, the XE's engine range has been slimmed down – petrol 2.0-litres come in 250hp and 300hp forms, while there's but 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. Jaguar also says it's the first diesel car in class to meet the EU’s RDE2 NOx emissions standard due in January 2021.

Up to that point, the XE’s line-up was crowned by a 380hp 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol engine, mighty enough to propel this compact four-door from 0-62mph in five seconds flat. Blame tightening emissions regulations for the loss of this model.

Jaguar XE equipment upgraded for 2019

The XE boasts a decent range of standard equipment, including, sat-nav, cruise control, 19-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.

The model range now comprises of standard 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.

Modern interior, quality upped for 2019

Jaguar XE P300 2019 interior

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.

What's the 2019 Jaguar XE like to drive?

In short, it's still up there with the best of its toughest opposition. The more sporting looks, which have been achieved by new front and rear bumpers, larger wheels and LED lights all round, are all justified. The car's lightness is unchanged, and that pays real dividends in terms of the XE’s agility. Rear-wheel drive handling (all-wheel drive is also available on selected models), balanced cornering, and sweet, communicative steering make the XE one of the most entertaining saloons you can buy.

Where the XE is at its most outstanding is in its damping and body control. In corners, there is little discernible body roll. Even on 20-inch wheels fitted to the P300 in R-Dynamic form, the ride comfort is good, too – meaning you won't be jarred by poor A- and B-road surfaces, while on the motorway, it's settled and more refined before. 

There are several electronic systems to aid the driver including Jaguar’s Drive Control – also seen on the larger XF and XJ saloons – which enable the driver to select different handling characteristics such as Comfort and Dynamic. You also get an All Surface Progress Control (ASPC) system that maximises traction no matter what the conditions, including dealing with snow or ice.

Of the facelifted models, we've driven the D180 and P300 in R-Dynamic form. The headline-grabbing P300 is quick, with a 0-60mph time of 5.4 seconds and a maximum speed of 155mph, but its laggy transmission (which is improved over the old model) and undistinguished engine note stop it someway short of being a great sporting saloon. The D180, on the other hand, is an excellent all-rounder that's both delightful to drive (and still lively with a 0-60mph time of 7.6 seconds), and economical, with an official WLTP combined fuel economy figure of 57.6mpg.

How does the Jaguar XE stack up next to its main competitors? Read on for our full review...

Jaguar XE rivals