IT'S a fact - the German marques have long ruled the compact executive saloon world with the likes of the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series leading the way, but Jaguar aims to make a healthy dent into their sales with its striking XE model.
Boasting beautifully streamlined and aerodynamic curves, 19-inch alloys, a panoramic sunroof, sweeping headlights with high beam assist, privacy glass and some neat chrome trim, the XE is a looker from any angle.
And the high standards are carried through into the cabin. As soon as you open the door you are greeted by illuminated tread-plates carrying the Jaguar script.
There is leather upholstery, 10-way powered front seats that can be heated, etched aluminium veneers, mood lighting, ebony coloured headlining and lots of soft-touch surfaces.
The level of on-board technology is generous with the likes of a 10-inch dual touchscreen, head-up display, heated steering wheel, sat nav with a Meridian surround sound system, full smartphone connectivity and plenty more besides.
An executive saloon needs to meet the high demands of the business driver who spends plenty of time behind the wheel but is determined to maintain a high degree of exclusivity along the way - the Jaguar XE delivers on all counts.
Whilst there are more economically-viable diesel versions of the XE on sale, the 2.0-litre 250ps turbopetrol powertrain fitted to this model delivered all the firepower necessary.
The car could reach 62mph from a standing start in a rapid 6.2 seconds, maxed out at 155mph and, according to official figures, delivered combined fuel economy of 42.2mpg with carbon emissions of 154g/km.
The XE was priced at a very reasonable £35,645, but like rival models the list of optional extras that make every day driving that much more enjoyable do come with a price. The final cost of the XE R-Sport was £52,765.
Getting a good driving position inside the car is easy thanks to the extensive levels of seat and steering wheel adjustment and although the seats are quite sporty, they offer excellent support. I completed a three-hour journey without any breaks and still felt quite refreshed at the end of it.
Back seat passengers don't fare quite so well as is the norm in this style of car, but there is ample leg, head and shoulder space for a couple of adults to travel in comfort.
The XE is well laid out with all controls, readouts and instrumentation perfectly positioned for ease of use and the multi-function steering wheel is simple to use as well as the cruise control set-up.
Out on the open road, the acceleration through the eight-speed automatic transmission proved both smooth and responsive with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifts for when you fancy taking control of the gear changes.
The XE also features the Jaguar Drive Control which allows you to switch between different driving modes - Dynamic is by far the most fun and really sharpens up the car's reactions and dynamics.
The road-holding is confident, the steering precise and there is no sign of any body sway into tight bends.
In city centres, the advanced parking assist pack with surround camera (a £1,610 option) makes light work of parking and the power-operated boot will accommodate plenty of luggage thanks to its 455-litre capacity.
Another plus factor on our particular XE was the All Surface Progress Control (ASPC) which works like a low speed cruise control offering extra traction. You simply set a target speed (between 2mph and 19mph), and the ASPC system will hold you at exactly that.
You can increase or decrease the speed with the cruise control switches while moving.
The ASPC automatically controls the throttle and the brakes, giving added confidence on slippery, loose, or icy surfaces, as well as on undulating terrain.
This proved most useful as a cold snap swept through the country during our drive and temperatures plummeted to minus five degrees.
On low-grip surfaces, it can help you pull away first time, and its hill descent function controls your vehicle speed when heading downhill. All you have to do is steer.
And the XE had an all-wheel-drive system for the very best grip. This was one of the many safety features that also included lane departure warning, emergency brake assist, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and reverse traffic detection, blind spot assist and lots more.