By Wayne Gorrett

 

There is a new Jaguar XE coming soon, but with some great leasing deals available on the current model from Leasing Options, I recently spent a week with an XE in Portfolio spec and, as I was at its launch a few years ago, was again impressed.

Beautiful in a contemporary, ‘Made Great in Britain’ kind of way, the Jaguar XE is more gender-centric in its appeal and affordability calculated to give its German rivals something to ponder over.

The Jaguar XE was revealed at the 2014 Paris motor show and is manufactured at Jaguar Land Rover’s Castle Bromwich facility along with the XF, XJ and F-TYPE model lines.

Exterior

The Jaguar XE is a compact executive sedan that wouldn't be out of place in the company parking lot next to the legions of BMW 3-Series and Audi A4s that tend to be the wheels of choice within the up-and-coming executive class.

On the outside, Jaguar has sculpted this sedan along the lines of the larger and successful XF saloon. The XE is distinctive looking, even slightly more dynamic across the body than Audi’s updated A4 and is easier on the eye. It’s a handsome car with a sharp, purposeful design - a job done right. I am a fan of the XF’s clean design and the XE’s smaller package and lighter price tag are mere icing.

Trims grades and Equipment

As you would expect, the Jaguar XE is very well equipped throughout the five-model trim range which kicks off with SE, followed by the Prestige, R-Sport and Portfolio grades, while the current flagship is the omnipotent V6 S.



Standard XE kit includes a touchscreen infotainment system, climate control and parking sensors and Prestige models upwards have a high-class feel, with leather upholstery, heated seats and brushed aluminium in the cabin.

Engines and Transmissions

At the heart of the Jaguar XE is the in-house designed, engineered and manufactured Ingenium range of petrol and diesel engines. JLR’s investment in powertrain autonomy is about improving engine performance and holding true control of its own engine destiny.

The 180PS 2.0-litre turbodiesel as tested offers adequate every-day power, pulling eagerly from low revs and is my pick of the XE diesel engines. An all-wheel-drive version of this diesel is also available, but do think very carefully about whether you really need this, because the rear-wheel-drive car is less expensive, more efficient and has sweeter steering and lower running costs.

Go for the automatic gearbox if you can – it's far more relaxing and infinitely better suited to the car’s dynamics than the six-speed manual.

Ride and Handling

The XE is one of the most aluminium-intensive cars Jaguar has ever produced, with a claimed 75 per cent of the car’s body shell composed of the lightweight metal. In its most svelte form, the XE tips the scales at an impressive 1,475kg.

Such weight consciousness enables the XE to win you over once you turn its rotary transmission selector to Drive. While many cars, including the vaunted BMW 3-Series, have moved toward being more comfortable and isolating, the Jaguar XE doubles down on driving dynamics. The steering is exceptional, delivering consistent weighting and providing an impressive amount of feedback. You can feel what the car is doing.

Jaguar also knows how to tune a suspension, managing to maintain control around corners and feel perpetually composed yet still deliver a well-damped ride that soaks up bumps and never punishes you for its cat-like athleticism.

SUMMARY

The Jaguar XE remains a worthy player among premium compact sedans, a segment dominated by the German marques for many years. The XE has the advantage of being designed and engineered from the ground up, lacking a model legacy to hold it down while still being able to draw on Jaguar's rich history.

Ultimately, the XE feels as good as a driver's car as the BMW 3-series and the Jaguar badge on the grille carries British panache that will make it stand out from the Germanic crowd.

Browse our latest top leasing deals on the Jaguar XE saloon.