Jaguar’s smallest saloon is great to drive but could do with an interior uplift
- Entertaining drive
- Relevant on-board tech
- Diesel efficiency
- Lacks practicality
- Petrol engines’ economy
- Interior quality questions
One of the most hotly contested market segments is the executive saloon sector, but until the Jaguar XE arrived in 2015, the British manufacturer had been rather lacking in this arena.
Its previous stab – the Jaguar X-Type – had lacked the provenance usually associated with the brand and was styled far too traditionally, failing to attract younger buyers in sufficient numbers.
Those aren’t accusations that can be levelled at the slinkier XE – it’s a direct rival to the Audi A4 Saloon, BMW 3 Series Saloon and Mercedes-Benz C-Class saloon, as well as more leftfield choices such as the Infiniti Q50 and Lexus IS.
Aluminium construction boosts efficiency
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.
Opt for the entry-level diesel with a manual gearbox and Jaguar cites an official claim of 75.0mpg and CO2 emissions of just 99g/km.
Of course, Jaguar’s ethos has historically centred around performance, and sight hasn’t been lost of this: the XE line-up’s 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.
That inherent lightness also pays dividends in terms of the XE’s agility – combined with rear-wheel drive handling (all-wheel drive is also available on selected models), the Jaguar’s one of the most entertaining saloons you can buy, yet it still rides comfortably.
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 Sport.
You also get an All Surface Progress Control (ASPC) system that maximises traction no matter what the conditions, including dealing with snow or ice.
Modern interior with relevant tech
Forget notions of a plank of highly polished brown wood dominating the dashboard, the XE’s cabin is more contemporary than that. In fact, it’s borderline minimalist, but in a way that makes it look ordinary.
There’s leather, slivers of veneered timber if you want it and contemporary Jaguar switchgear, but some of the plastics feel too low-rent to be convincing in the company the XE keeps.
Some highlights are there, though: the multimedia systems are a leap ahead of Jaguar’s previous efforts, especially the larger-screened InControl Touch Pro package, while its safety credentials are reinforced with an autonomous low-speed braking system and a pop-up bonnet for improved pedestrian protection.
The Parkers Verdict
The XE is a great addition to the ranks of the medium-sized executive saloons. It looks good, is owered by an efficient range of engines, and cramped rear seat aside, has a nicely set-up interior.
It's not perfect, though. The interior quality isn't near the top of the class, and lags badly behind the head-of-the-pack Audi A4, while there are some question marks being raised about the car's reliability.
But if you're a keen driver, and want to stand out from the crowd, there's a lot to recommend the Jaguar XE.
Read the full Jaguar XE saloon review to find out if this pretender to the compact executive throne can challenge Audi’s, BMW’s and Mercedes’ sales dominance.
What owners say about this car
Having had HUD system in previous car (BMW) thought the Jaguar system would be similar. No demonstrators with HUD system. Read owner review
It's a great car, the drive modes are wonderful; Dynamic (aka sport) really makes it fun to drive, Standard (never... Read owner review
Good specifications and lovely looking car. Drives well and plenty of power when required. Very economical and low road tax. Read owner review