Parkers overall rating: 3.8 out of 5 3.8

2019 Jaguar XE driving

What engine options are there?

Jaguar is still a sporting brand at heart, and that’s evident in the way the XE drives. The sad part is that, apart from the bonkers SV Project 8, there’s no halo performance model. The range instead tops out with a 300hp petrol, sat above a 250hp petrol and a 200hp diesel – all 2.0-litre, four-cylinders from Jaguar’s ‘Ingenium’ family of engines.

All three use Jaguar’s eight-speed automatic gearbox, which isn’t quite as responsive as the one in the BMW 3 Series. However, it’s far less hesitant than the dual-clutch ‘box in an Audi A4. Select Dynamic drive mode – which you need to do for weightier steering – and this holds onto the gears for longer. This is hardly fitting for when you want to waft and relax in your Jaguar saloon, but it’s calibrated well enough for you to be in the right gear at the right time during spirited driving.

Petrol engines

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
P250
250hp, 365Nm
6.2secs
155mph
P300
300hp, 400Nm 5.7secs
155mph

View full specs

The 250hp petrol is the entry point to the range. Badged P250, it’s actually a very generous power output – the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series offer 156hp, 150hp and 184hp respectively, significantly down on the Jaguar.

That makes it plenty punchy for everyday use – it’ll cruise effortlessly at motorway speeds, get off the line fast enough to break traction on the rear tyres if you’re not careful and offer up a satisfying kick of acceleration if you put your foot down as you would when overtaking.

We found the P250 to beat its claimed fuel economy - we averaged an easy 38mpg out of a long weekend of mixed cruising. For those plying the highways, this figure should be very attainable – though do note, repeated short runs or city driving will see the fuel economy plummet.

2019 Jaguar XE engine

The 250hp petrol offers such a good level of performance that it’s not really worth opting for the higher-powered, 300hp model. It doesn’t feel significantly faster in the real world. And, while the P300 (as it's so badged) comes with all-wheel drive for a bit more security in slippery conditions, it actually compromises the purity of the driving experience. We’d head for the rear-drive, P250 any day of the week.

That said, if you do simply want the most powerful XE, the P300 is unlikely to disappoint as performance is strong, but only if you have the driving modes set to the most sporting. Otherwise it can feel quite restrained. While that's fine for most situations, it can be surprising how long it can take to get going when you expect it to be a bit more responsive. Still, the automatic gearbox works well with this engine, and the fine chassis setup in combination with the engine makes for a great car to drive on a twisty road.

Diesel engine

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
D200
204hp, 430Nm
6.9secs
146mph

View full specs

There’s a single diesel offered in the XE – it too is a 2.0-litre four cylinder, producing 204hp and badged D200. It’s the slowest of the bunch, but it's still no slouch. It does offer the greatest posted fuel economy, making it a good choice for high-mileage drivers or those looking to cut costs as much as possible. However, the diesel’s slightly coarse edge means it can’t really compete with the excellent diesels in the BMW 3 Series.

That said, it still feels strong enough for most and works well with the standard eight-speed automatic transmission. It'll be the best option for long stints on the motorway, and will go longest between visits to the petrol station.

Handling

  • XE is one of the best small saloons to drive
  • Excellent blend of comfort and agility 
  • Sharp and communicative steering

The Jaguar XE is great fun to drive regardless of which engine you opt for. Jaguar has a knack for making cars that are both comfortable for passengers and involving for the driver, and the XE is one of the best of the breed.

The suspension is perfectly tuned so that it doesn’t lean too much in the corners, yet it still deals well with lumps and bumps on the roads. Whether sat up front or in the rear, it's a very comfortable car indeed – easily the equal of a BMW 3 Series or Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Jaguar has set the XE up to have quick steering, and it’s easy to feel what the road is doing through the wheel. Keen drivers will enjoy how communicative the steering is, but it’s not so darty that others won’t be able to get comfortable.

At high road speeds, such as on the motorway, the Jaguar settles down very nicely to an extremely relaxed and refined cruise. It’s a little less relaxed around town, where the gearbox can feel a little recalcitrant to slower-speed driving. But that’s not a deal-breaker.

2019 Jaguar XE D180 rear