Jaguar XE saloon performance
The 178bhp diesel model (badged D180) is our pick of the range, pulling eagerly from low revs and feeling usefully quick, even if it’s ultimately not as strong a performer as the BMW 320d and Audi A4 2.0 TDI 190. Four-wheel drive is available with this engine but, since the rear-wheel-drive car is cheaper and more economical, we wouldn’t bother unless you live in a part of the country that regularly gets snow.
The alternatives are 247bhp and 296bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrols, the former offered only with rear-wheel drive and the latter exclusively with four-wheel drive.
We’ve not yet tried the 247bhp engine, but the 296bhp (or P300, as it’s known) needs working hard before it feels properly fast. An, even even when driven vigorously, it won’t keep up with range-topping petrol rivals, such as the BMW 340i.
Jaguar XE saloon ride
Avoid the R-Dynamic styling pack, which also includes lower, stiffer suspension, and the XE is a really comfortable car. The ride is well controlled but supple enough to take the sting out of potholes in town, and is wonderfully settled on the motorway.
You can add optional adaptive shock absorbers, but the standard set-up is so good that we recommend you save your money.
Jaguar XE saloon handling
Look no further if you’re after a sporty executive car. The XE handles superbly, darting into bends and staying flat and composed through all manner of twists and turns.
It also grips well, and the steering on rear-wheel-drive versions is sharp and precise. On four-wheel-drive XEs, it doesn't respond or weight up quite as consistently, but is still very good.
While the lowered R-Dynamic models have the sharpest handling, they sacrifice ride comfort compared to the fluid-feeling standard XE and we don't reckon the compromise is worth making.
Jaguar XE saloon refinement
The D180 diesel is no noisier than the equivalent engine in the Mercedes C-Class. Mind you, BMW’s 320d is quieter still, and no comparable engine is as creamy as Audi’s 2.0 TDI 190. Sadly, the XE’s stop/start system is terrible, with a pronounced twang as the car rumbles back into life.
Predictably, things are better in the P300 petrol, which revs smoothly to its red line, yet fades to a background murmur once you’re up to cruising speed. Just don’t expect it to ever sound particularly sporty.
Avoid the biggest wheels and road noise isn’t much of an issue, while wind noise levels are perfectly acceptable, even at higher speeds.
Jaguar no longer offers the XE with a manual gearbox, and this is no great loss because the eight-speed automatic was always a better choice. True, it’s a bit hesitant both off the line and when shifting gears, but it’s smooth in all but hard use and makes the XE relaxing to drive for high-mileage drivers, or anyone who spends lots of time in traffic.
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