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New Jaguar XE vs used Alfa Romeo Giulia: driving

What little time we spend driving these days should be done in something fun, but is a new Jaguar or similarly priced used Alfa Romeo the best way to get your motoring kicks?...

Jaguar XE driving

New Jaguar XE vs used Alfa Romeo Giulia – driving

Performance, ride, handling, refinement

We've already said that running costs aren't going to be a huge issue for those with minimal mileages, so the entry-level 247bhp 2.0-litre P250 petrol engine in the XE should do nicely. Unlike the more powerful P300, which is lumbered with four-wheel drive, the lighter P250 is rear-wheel drive only and is the better for it.

While you'll have to rev it out, the P250 has plenty of performance for most needs. The only downside is the standard eight-speed automatic gearbox can be a little hesitant when moving away from rest and can blunt acceleration by being slow to change down for overtaking. It is at least smooth in normal driving.

The Giulia is even more powerful and in some ways feels faster than its claimed figures. It's delightfully responsive and emits a satisfying rasp when stretched. If you can find one with the optional aluminium paddles behind the steering wheel, you'll enjoy shifting up and down the eight-speed automatic gearbox along a twisty country road to your heart's content.

Jaguar XE drivingAlfa Romeo Giulia rear

Speaking of country road driving, it's quite hard to separate the two here, because this is where they both shine. Each is a more enjoyable drive than rivals such as the equivalent Mercedes C-Class or BMW 3 Series. The Giulia has the quicker steering of the two and seems remarkably nimble for the size of car, while the suspension of the XE seems to soak up our poor English road surfaces with a little more sophistication. 

The Jaguar is also a little more refined at high speeds and seems less bothered by wind noise. Its engine, too, is quieter when accelerating, but both engines settle into the background hum of road noise on the motorway.

New Jaguar XE vs used Alfa Romeo Giulia – costs

Fuel economy, car tax, reliability

Neither the XE nor Giulia is particularly efficient in terms of fuel consumption, with the Jaguar posting a marginally better WLTP figure of 35.5mpg, against the 32.8mpg of the Alfa Romeo.

Jaguar XE rear studioAlfa Romeo Giulia Veloce rear studio

Road tax for the XE after the first year will be the standard £150, but you'll have to be careful with the Giulia if you're buying a 2020 example, because there was a price hike during the year that saw it breach the £40,000 luxury car tax threshold. This happened close to June 2020 or when the facelifted Giulia arrived. This means those registered before this date will cost the same to tax as the XE, while any Giulia registered after will be subject to a surcharge of £325 a year, making a grand total of £475. At least this ends once the car is more than six years old.

Our New Car Buying service can get the price of an XE P250 S down to £29,353, while a 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce with below-average mileage at a main dealer is £26,000.

Both cars have a three-year manufacturer's warranty from new, although some of the Giulia's will have been used because it's nearly a year old. An extended warranty can be purchased via an Alfa Romeo dealer up to a maximum of five years, with varying milage limits depending on how far you drive.

Neither car had a particularly standout score in the latest What Car? Reliability Survey, but the XE was ahead of the Giulia in the executive car class, in 11th place out of 19 cars, while the Giulia was ranked 14th.

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