Jaguar XE a top

executive express

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

MOREand more upper saloon cars are now available with four wheel drive for added traction in difficult conditions and better adhesion through the corners for handling prowess.

One of the latest on the market is Jaguar's XE sports saloon, designed and built using aluminium to make it as light as possible.

Years ago, when I was modifying my own small cars to squeeze more power out of their little 1.0 and 1.3-litre engines, I soon learned that anything I could do to lower the weight meant they performed better and gave me improved economy - if I could manage to keep my foot off the loud pedal.

But when your car will better 55 miles per gallon on a long run, you don't have to be quite so careful.

The XE I drove was the R-Sport diesel turbo and I can only say that it's one of the best driver's cars on the market.

In response and performance, despite only having a two litre engine, it feels more like a petrol powered car, with immediate acceleration from almost any speed and a marvellously quick kickdown from the eight speed automatic gearbox.

The engine is smooth and quiet in a way that other top diesels can't match and the whole car feels poised and engaging over twisting country roads and wider, more open A roads.

There is always enough power to overtake - given the requisite short length of clear road ahead - and it pulls beautifully from low revs on a light throttle.

The gearbox changes gears almost imperceptibly and can be switched into Sport or Manual settings whenever desired - the latter using decently shaped paddles behind the steering wheel.

Handling is sublime, with a response to driver input that seems to be an extension of thought and electric power steering with all the feel any enthusiastic driver could want.

This, together with road-holding that has to be experienced to be believed and a quality of ride that is unsurpassed in the class, and you have one of the best sporting saloons money can buy.

I have long thought that BMW held the crown for such cars, but not any more. Jaguar has matched the best it can do or bettered it and produced a car at the very pinnacle of excellence.

The XE comes with electronic systems including Jaguar's Drive Control, which enable the driver to select different handling modes such as comfort and sport.

And it also has All Surface Progress Control (ASPC) which maximises traction and grip from its four-wheel-drive system no matter what the conditions.

Safety kit includes autonomous braking and a pop-up bonnet to protect pedestrians, and a smartphone can be connected so that the car's eight-inch touchscreen effectively works as an extension of the phone.

It enables the driver to access a range of functions and apps for parking, traffic and news, although they do have to be apps optimised for the XE.

R-Sport equipment includes alarm, traction and stability control, parking sensors, two tone alloys, audio remote, climate and cruise.

FAST FACTS

Price: £36,600

Mechanical: 177bhp, 1,999cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 140mph

0-62mph: 7.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 60

Insurance Group: 27

C02 emissions: 123g/km

Bik rating: 24%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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