There’s plenty of adjustment to the steering wheel, and having an electrically adjusted backrest (electric adjustment of the entire seat is a cost option on lower-end versions and standard on high-spec ones) makes it easy to make small adjustments to the driving position.
The seat offers good side support to keep you in place through corners, but not enough lower back support. Adjustable lumbar support is an option on all versions, but it requires the further addition of fully electric seat adjustment on SE, Prestige and R-Sport trims, both of which add up to a four-figure sum.
A head-up display, which beams key information such as speed and the next sat-nav direction onto the windscreen directly in front of you, is an option that could be worth it for high-mileage drivers. And the dashboard is easy to get the hang of; the buttons are all simple to use and within reach.
Jaguar XE visibility
The XE offers a good view of the road ahead; pillars are no more obstructive than those in most rivals. The door mirrors are a decent size, too. Seeing straight out of the back isn’t so easy, though, due to a fairly narrow rear window and broad, swooping pillars. At least all models come with rear parking sensors to help with reversing.
Options include a heated windscreen that will clear condensation and ice much faster than the air vents, automatic parking (where the car steers for you) and a blindspot warning system. There’s also a reasonably priced parking pack that consists of front parking sensors and a rear-view camera.
Jaguar XE infotainment
Every model is fitted with Jaguar’s InControl touchscreen system, which includes an 8.0in screen and sat-nav. The system responds fairly quickly most of the time but has some illogical menus and small icons that are fiddly to hit on the move. Online connectivity is standard (this requires a smartphone to be paired to the system) – this allows the use of various apps, including music streaming and calendar and email linking, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto interfaces aren’t available.
Bluetooth hands-free and audio streaming is also included across the range, as is a USB socket, a digital radio, audio controls on the steering wheel, and voice control.
A larger 10.2in touchscreen with multi-touch gestures and a customisable homescreen is available if you opt for the Touch Pro infotainment pack. It’s more responsive, but we still think the BMW iDrive and Audi MMI systems, with their rotary dial interfaces, are easier and safer to use on the move. Touch Pro is well equipped, featuring a more sophisticated sat-nav, 12.3in digital instruments (in place of analogue dials), an extra USB socket and a 10GB hard drive to store your music. A 'dual view' feature that allows the driver and front passenger to view different functions on the same screen is a nice highlight.
The standard six-speaker sound system on lower-end trims is one of the better standard set-ups in this class. The Meridian system (standard on Portfolio and the V6 S, and optional on other XEs) gets 11 speakers and two subwoofers for outstanding sound quality, while an even more powerful 17-speaker surround-sound version is also available. Either is well worth considering if you’re a bit of an audiophile.
Interior quality isn’t something Jaguar has been famous for in recent years, and while the inside of the XE is okay, with some soft-touch materials in key places, it’s not great. Compared with even a cheaper Skoda Superb, there are parts – such as the brittle-feeling plastics around the centre console and the vinyl-wrapped dashboard – that feel a bit iffy. And next to the class-leading finish of an Audi A4, everything from the operation of the buttons to the chromed plastic highlights – those in the A4 are generally metal - make the XE feel some way behind.