Jaguar XE 2.0d SE

Jaguar XE, front, action
Jaguar XE, nose, action
Jaguar XE 2.0D Portfolio, front, static
Jaguar XE 2.0D Portfolio, side
Jaguar XE, grille
Jaguar XE, interior
Jaguar XE 2.0D Portfolio, interior

JAGUAR'S compact saloon has been a long time coming.

A car crucial to the firm's future, it taps into the all-important executive jungle, dominated by big beasts like the BMW 3 series, Mercedes C-Class and the Audi A4.

These are big beasts ready to devour uppity newcomers which don't come up to scratch, so Jag had to make the sure the XE was good, not just good, but excellent.

It is. Jaguar has produced a real driver's car, which looks good, is competitively priced, starting at just under £27,000 and is powered by a new breed of Jaguar Land Rover Ingenium engines, designed and built in Wolverhampton in the West Midlands.

The purists love rear-wheel drive which this car delivers and it handles like a dream. It also boasts a raft of cutting edge technology as standard across the range.

These include a system that maximises low-speed traction in adverse condition, the ability to select eco, normal, winter and dynamic driving modes, forward facing stereo camera technology, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition.

Thanks to its aluminium technology, it is the most rigid saloon that Jaguar has ever built with over 75 per cent aluminium content. This makes it both light and strong and delivering a stiff body structure for better ride and handling.

The XE is the first model designed using Jaguar's modular vehicle architecture which will underpin a range of different JLR models.

It looks good, as you would expect from a Big Cat, with a sleek, aerodynamic lines, steeply raked windscreen and coupé-like profile.

The signature 'J-Blade' running lights are a recognisable Jaguar design and the rear borrows from the F-TYPE with a horizontal line intersecting a roundel which is a styling feature inherited from the E-type.

The interior also offers executive class fixtures and fittings, with the centre console housing the rotary gear knob so familiar with automatic JLR models, pulsing starter button and silver rotary control knobs.

The centrepiece is the eight-inch touchscreen which can be voice controlled and operates the new InControl infotainment system. This controls music and connectivity which allows connection to wi-fi and smartphone apps.

The seats offer a sports-car like driving position with heating and cooling options and rear seats may also be heated and can offer a 40:20:40 split-fold and a through-loading feature.

The seats are comfortable and the interior is snug rather than roomy, particularly in the rear. The snugness is the price you pay for sporty styling, but its worth it. This extends to the boot with decent, if not class leading space of 455 litres.

Standard equipment on all models includes satellite navigation, cruise control, 17-inch alloy wheels, DAB digital radio and multi-function softgrain leather steering wheel, with the toys and goodies getting better as you move through trim levels.

Agile, responsive and supple is how Jaguar describe the vehicle on the road. Add to those dynamic and exhilarating. The car handles beautifully, even powered by the lower end two-litre diesel tested here.

With the double wishbone front suspension, Integral Link rear suspension and electric power steering, it feels beautifully balanced on corners giving excellent driver feedback through the responsive steering.

The 163ps engine is also responsive to the throttle, particularly when selecting Sport mode and delivers decent pace, while CO2 emissions slip below the benchmark 100g/km for the manual with only 107 for this eight speed automatic.

Switch to the steering wheel paddles for an even sportier drive and a decent sprint time of 0-60mph in under eight seconds is still achievable. The engine has plenty of torque and cruises effortlessly on motorways. Road and wind noise are well muted, giving the car a true executive feel.

There's the full Monty in terms of safety kit, while the pop-up bonnet delivers better pedestrian protection.

FAST FACTS

Jaguar XE 2.0d SE

Price: £31,525

Mechanical: 163ps, 1,999cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving rear wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 132mph

0-62mph: 7.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 69.9

Insurance Group: 22

C02 emissions: 106g/km

Bik rating: 19%

Warranty: 3yrs/100,000 miles

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