Hey Good Looking !
The Jaguar brand means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Growing up in the 1970’s it was the weapon of choice for almost all the British crooks portrayed on TV, a car that in reality when new anyway, was driven by senior management & company directors. Only the used versions were in reach of pub landlords & second hand garage owners across the land, often in mustard yellow or British racing green..
It wasn’t until the late 1990’s that Jaguar, then owned by Ford, decided to build a smaller model, one that would appeal to middle-management. Hey presto in 2001 the X-Type appeared & although it looked like a Jag & was equipped like a Jag, underneath, it was really a Ford & despite the Jaguar looks it didn’t sell particularly well. Fast-forward to 2015 & Jaguar now owned by Tata launched the XE, a baby brother for the supremely excellent XF. The XE has had to compete with the big selling Mercedes-Benz C Class, BMW 3 Series & Audi A4, but, it has still found plenty of customers, because it’s really rather good.
However, with the competition ever improving & the government increasing company car tax on diesels, Jaguar refreshed the XE in 2019 & now of the new model made it’s way to CC&V for us to try.
So what’s new ? For a start the exterior is classier & now now features thinner LED headlights & front & rear reshaped bumpers, which still make it the best looking car in it’s class.
Inside, there’s a new 10″ single-screen system on S & SE models & further up the model range, an infotainment set up of twin screens, allowing the driver to swap between functions. This comes with DAB radio, SatNav, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto. Everything looks & feels top quality & it’s simply & tastefully designed & laid out, with an ebony headlining & a gloss black veneer on parts of the dash & trim. Gone sadly is the pop-up starter with a far more conservative starter button replacing it.
Jaguar have also simplified the engine choice. Gone is the V6 & you can now get to choose between a 4-cyliner 178bhp diesel or two 4-cylinder petrols, offering either 247bhp or 296bhp. All are offered with eight-speed automatic transmission, paddle shifters & a gear selector in the middle. You also have a choice of rear & all-wheel drive.
CC&V is a fleet publication & despite the growth of petrol cars in the company car park, we still believe that new, cleaner diesels, are worth considering if you drive between cities. To this end we were testing the HSE R-Dynamic 180ps diesel AWD, which costs from £42,835 OTR.
The HSE features 19″ Style 1050, 10 spoke, Gloss Dark Grey with contrast Diamond Turned finish alloys, keyless entry, perforated Windsor leather sport seats with contrast stitching, a 6-way electric driver memory front seats with 2-way manual headrests, Touch Pro Duo, a 380W Meridian Sound System – 380W, an Interactive Driver Display, a Park Pack consisting of 360° Parking Aid, Rear Traffic Monitor & Park Assist & a Drive Pack consisting of Adaptive Cruise Control, High-speed Emergency Braking & Blind Spot Assist.
Jaguar may have refreshed the XE, but luckily, none of the upgrades have affected it’s handling. Like it’s predecessor, drives superbly. Whatever Jaguar’s engineers have done to the XE’s chassis should be patented. It offers just the right balance of road holding fun with a touch of firmness that is perfect, making it a comfortable car to drive ,either around town or on the motorway. In fact, it’s as much fun & as comfortable as the 3 Series, is far more poised than the C-Class & is an all-round better performer than the over-firm set up in the A4. Perhaps the new BMW ‘s engines are smother & quieter, but otherwise, the XE runs it close.
Powered by the 2 -litre 180PS engine, my test car came with an 8-speed auto gear box which didn’t reduce my enjoyment of the XE in any way. This model feels fast, although it actually hit’s 60 mph in 7.8 seconds, going onto reach a top speed of 140mph.
Business customers will be more interested in the tax implications & these don’t disappoint either.The combined fuel economy is a claimed 46.4 mpg on the WLTP measured combined cycle & emissions of 138g/km. As usual, we kept an eye on our fuel economy over the 7 days we were driving the XE & in the 300+ miles we drove, we averaged 40.3mpg, on a mix of urban, extra urban & motorway driving. Not brilliant, but w could put thyme down to us spending far too much time in the Dynamic drive mode, rather than in the Eco or Comfort modes. If you encounter bad weather, there is also a Rain Ice Snow mode you can select, perfect for a British Winter.
Whilst the refreshed XE may have an awful lot going for it, it is still most definitely lacking in rear passenger & boot space. Unlike the larger XF, which is excellent in this respect, the XE feels a little cramped in the rear. To be fair, headroom is okay, but if there is a tall driver sitting in front of you & you are a six-footer, there isn’t a lot of room for your legs & compared to the 3 Series, A4 & even the C-Class it does feel tight in there. Similarly, the boot is narrow from left to right & shallow from back to front with just 455 litres on offer compared to its competitors, which all have at least 480 litres or more. I am being picky, because this lack of rear legroom & smallish boot space, are the only draw back’s in what really is an excellent upgrade from Jaguar.
In conclusion, the XE is THE best looking car in the class & drives almost as well as the latest 3 Series It’s also better to drive than both the A4 & C-Class. The latest petrol & diesel engines are cleaner & more frugal & the addition of more tech & an improved cabin, featuring better build quality, only add to the XE’s plus points .What’s not to like ?
A Handsome Devil 4/5