Jaguar XE 2.0 240

R-Sport

Jaguar XE R-Sport, front
Jaguar XE R-Sport, front
Jaguar XE R-Sport, rear
Jaguar XE R-Sport, rear
Jaguar XE R-Sport, interior
Jaguar XE R-Sport, interior
Jaguar XE R-Sport, interior
Jaguar XE R-Sport, detail

NOT so long ago just about every saloon in the executive car park would have been a diesel - middle managers, directors, almost all the bosses.

But things are changing. Perhaps the climate of public opinion is partly responsible following the ‘Dieselgate' issue and the reality is high performance petrol engines are gradually becoming more efficient.

Today's smaller, turbocharged petrols provide that appealing blend of strong mid-range acceleration with acceptable economy. Plus the bonus of much quieter running which few diesels can match.

One of the best examples is the Jaguar XE 2.0, which at a tad over £33,000 represents something of a snip for a 155mph sports saloon that will see off the 62mph dash in less than seven seconds.

With an eight-speed automatic gearbox it naturally takes on the role as a stylish yet practical motorway express which won't bust the bank on running charges.

Although the diesel versions of the XE still win on CO2 emissions and outright economy, the petrol models are currently capturing about a third of sales - double what the firm anticipated.

The XE followed in the tyre tracks of the successful XF, to challenge BMW's big selling 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class and the Audi A4 range.

With a hefty 237bhp to call on, together with turbo punch at relatively low revs, it's hardly surprising the XE picks up its heels well. Of course, it's all done with a high degree of refinement and ease.

I drove the R-Sport version which gets a more sporty focus by including bigger wheels, subtle body-kit and stiffer suspension.

The automatic gearbox is smooth and effortless if a bit slow-witted at times. This can be overcome if you are happy to bring the steering wheel paddles into play. Neither of the two 2.0-litre petrols are available with manual gearboxes.

Steering and ride, two Jaguar strong points, are qualities that lift the XE above its rivals. Its ability to turn into bends sharply and pass back oodles of road information to the driver are a continued source of pleasure.

The ride is calm and composed yet there's a minimum of roll thanks both to the excellent chassis and the well-damped suspension.

Although it excels as a motorway express, the XE also thrives on tight bends of b-roads.

A choice of driving modes are available but I tended to remain in ‘dynamic' which sharpens responses and adds a tad of weight to the steering.

Official economy stats indicate the 240 manages 37.7mpg combined and most drivers should get within five mpg of this figure. My average was 33.5mpg.

The cabin might not be quite up to Audi standards of build and style but it's a pleasant place to be with clear dials and easy-to-use switchgear. The sat nav system is touch screen and somewhat fiddly to operate, however.

Space up front is good with ample shoulder and legroom. Those in the back may find legroom a bit cramped though. The conventional rear boot is regularly shaped and big enough for most families.

FAST FACTS

Jaguar XE 2.0 240 R-Sport

Price: £33,090

Mechanical:237bhp, 1,999cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 155mph

0-62mph: 6.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 37.7

Insurance Group: 24

C02 emissions: 179g/km

Bik rating: 32%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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