What's the used Jaguar XE saloon like?
Many years ago, if you were after a sporty compact executive saloon your default purchase was nearly always the BMW 3 Series, which usually seemed to have enough class and dynamic prowess to edge it ahead of its two closest rivals, the Audi A4 and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Since 2015, however, there’s been another option: the Jaguar XE. Here is an executive saloon with a traditional rear-wheel-drive layout that successfully combines plenty of driver appeal with all the style and equipment that owners of cars of this type desire.
Petrol engine options range from a choice of 2.0-litre engines in three states of tune: 197bhp, 237bhp and 296bhp. If that isn't enough, a swift supercharged 3.0-litre V6 version dispatches 335bhp, or 375bhp in post-2017 form. Diesel options include three differing 2.0-litre engines, a slightly lacklustre 161bhp one, a punchy but gruff 178bhp version and a 237bhp option with four-wheel-drive model that is swift but thirsty.
Entry-level SE cars come with 17in alloys, dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers and cruise control. Step up to Prestige for leather upholstery and heated front seats. R-Sport models get xenon headlights, a sports styling kit, 18in alloys and sports seats, while Portfolio adds an upgraded sound system and fully electric seat adjustment.
It’s good on the road, too: it’s refined on the motorways and the ride, though it can be a little on the firm side, is comfortable. True, there are others that are better finished inside and more spacious, but none handle as sweetly - if you’re after a sporty executive saloon look no further. Indeed the car’s best qualities are its fluent, consistent and uncorrupted steering, its balance and precision when cornering and its expertly judged blend of body control compromised against a mostly supple and quiet ride. On all of those fronts, it was for a long time the king of the compact executive class, perhaps only bettered by certain versions of the BMW 3 Series.
Jaguar isn’t known for outstanding material interior quality and it won’t be changing its reputation by out-dazzling the likes of Audi and Mercedes with the XE. The car’s interior is nonetheless very pleasant, fairly luxurious and consistently well-finished. The black plastics and leathers can be a bit plain, but lighter and more visually appealing two-tone upholsteries are also offered. The car’s switchgear is all either grained or rubberised, and its instruments are pleasingly conventional and clear.
Occupant space for the driver is adequate, but snug rather than generous. A slightly high-mounted seat combines with a typically graceful swooping Jaguar roofline to limit head room for taller drivers. In the rear, space is broadly competitive, although short of the standard of the most practical compact executive saloons, so full-sized adults may struggle a wee bit for knee and head room. The boot is a fair size but the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series offer a little more cargo space.
In 2019 the XE received a major facelift, with styling tweaks inside and out and new touchscreens and upgraded materials for the interior. The engine range was reduced to a single diesel, the 178bhp D180, and two petrols, the 247bhp P250, and the 296bhp p300, all available in rear or four-wheel drive forms.
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