Behind the wheel, the overriding characteristic of the Jaguar XE is the way it feels dynamic and comfortable at the exact same time – a hard trick to pull off.
Jaguar has managed it by employing a comparatively lightweight aluminium chassis and a sophisticated multi-link suspension setup that smothers the bumps although keeping the wheels firmly in make contact with with the road, so there’s lots of feel.
The rear-wheel drive chassis often appears firmly planted but there’s a definite sense of the auto becoming pushed from the back and steered from the front – fantastic balance, in other words. Jaguar also introduced an all-wheel drive version of the XE in late 2015, which loses some of that balance in favour of enhanced traction and stability.
Either way, the XE’s dynamic prowess becomes far more substantial the additional up the engine range you go, with the two most strong petrol engines – the 237bhp version of the 2.-litre and the 335bhp supercharged V6 – veering into high-functionality territory to a greater or lesser extent.
Even so, most XE buyers will go diesel, for operating expenses causes. And it must be said that the lower-powered of those engines – the 99g/km 161bhp two.-litre – lacks punch. It never ever very feels as quickly as a Jaguar ought to and it is truly a little noisier than you’d want it to be as well – a little boomy and harsh at higher revs. As opposed to rivals from Mercedes-Benz and BMW, Jaguar does not provide a six-cylinder diesel XE, which would bring the choice of more smoothness.
Nonetheless, our preferred drivetrain – the 178bhp diesel with an automatic gearbox – is suitably refined for an executive automobile. That tiny bit of added power (and torque) indicates you don’t have to operate the engine as challenging for overtaking, while the gearbox is as smooth as you like.
There are two gearboxes for the XE, a six-speed manual and an eight-speed automatic, even though the manual is only obtainable with the diesels. It’s a pleasant gearbox, light of shift action yet precise, but to be sincere it does not really suit the nature of the vehicle a Jaguar feels like it must be powered by an automatic gearbox.
That’s for two motives: firstly the eight-speed automatic is very great indeed, shifting gears speedily and unobtrusively so that the power feels as uninterrupted as attainable. The comfort enhances the XE’s relaxing properties, yet the auto is snappy sufficient to suit a far more aggressive driving style.
But secondly, the rotary gear selector dial that rises from the centre console is the main bit of cabin theatre taken from the bigger XF saloon, and it begins any drive off with something a little bit special. This sounds trivial but it actually makes a distinction that anyone deciding on a manual XE misses out on.
All XE models ride with smoothness and refinement, whether or not on 17-inch normal wheels or 18/19-inch R-Sport ones – it’s firm but forgiving, and feels precisely how you’d want a small sporting Jaguar saloon to really feel.
The electric energy steering is rapid to react and offers a lot of really feel when away from the slightly numb straight ahead position. Throttle response is great, also, particularly if you sharpen things up with the Configurable Dynamics system that enables the driver to pick sharper throttle reactions and firmer suspension settings.
There are three offered engines for the XE, but five outputs. Of those, the vast majority of sales will go to the Ingenium 2.-litre diesel engine, offered with 161bhp or 178bhp. The option 2.-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine has either 197bhp or 237bhp.
Finally, the high overall performance S model is powered by a 3.-litre V6 supercharged petrol engine putting out 335bhp and giving the XE a five.1-second -62mph sprint.
The headline-grabbing 99g/km vehicle, which indicates zero VED payments, is the 161bhp 2.-litre diesel equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox. On paper it looks the enterprise, endowing the XE with a swift 8.four-second -62mph time, with its 380Nm maximum torque coming at just 1,750rpm.
Even so, it is a little noisy and in no way feels as swift as that time suggests. You will usually uncover yourself shifting gears at decrease speeds to get the engine into its narrow power band. It’s normally not befitting of an executive automobile – specifically if you’ve plumped for that engine/gearbox combo in a far more high-priced R-Sport or Portfolio specification.
It is a lot far better, we think, to go for the 178bhp unit with an eight-speed automatic. It’s the very same simple engine, yes, but it has significantly a lot more torque (430Nm also at 1,750rpm) so it has noticeably more shove. Jaguar’s automatic is one of the smoothest in the class as well, as mentioned earlier.
The 4-cylinder petrol engine, a 2.-litre unit with 197bhp or 237bhp, lacks character compared to the six-cylinder engines offered by BMW and Mercedes-Benz. But it does have the sort of best-finish pace and smoothness that the diesels do not, so if you’re significantly less bothered about operating charges and a lot more concerned by receiving the most refined XE expertise attainable, it is the 1 to go for. The 237bhp 1 specially feels really speedy.
The flagship XE (at the moment) is the 3.-litre supercharged V6 in the S and its stats are remarkable: 155mph and -62mph in five.1 seconds. You will also draw a smile from the knowledge that it’s an engine also located in the F-Type sports auto.
The noise it makes right here is much more muted than in the snarling Jaguar coupe, but it is nonetheless a visceral roar, and genuinely gives the XE that additional dimension – a ‘proper Jaguar’ engine. That said, it is in the end not fairly as ‘kick-you-in-the-gut’ fast as you may possibly anticipate.