Jaguar adds AWD to

XE diesel

Jaguar XE, front
Jaguar XE, front
Jaguar XE, front
Jaguar XE, side
Jaguar XE, rear
Jaguar XE, rear
Jaguar XE, rear
Jaguar XE, interior

AFTER the relaunch of Jaguar's marvellous XE last year, the smallest model in the company's stable came with an automatic gearbox as standard and the availability of four wheel drive.

However, the lowest powered diesel D180 was only available with rear wheel drive until now.

I recently had a drive in one around the roads of rural Warwickshire in the pouring rain and found it a complete delight.

The all wheel drive system and Jaguar's Intelligent Driveline Dynamics manage to keep the car's rear wheel drive handling feel and superb agility.

But of course, performance, traction and therefore driver confidence are enhanced tremendously in adverse conditions.

Add to that the R-Dynamic specification of the car I drove and the driver has a configurable dynamics system with a number of settings for he can choose through the central touch screen.

These include ice and snow, for maximum traction when the going gets really slippery, eco for best economy, comfort, which speaks for itself and dynamic to give a more sporting feel with faster gearshifts, weightier steering and a sharper accelerator response.

Lightweight aluminium construction also plays a major role in the car's agile handling, safety and efficiency.

It combines with the well-proven suspension to give the excellent road holding and tremendous grip we look for in a Jaguar.

And although the D180 is the least powerful option in the range it's a sophisticated diesel offering very good performance combined with superb refinement and excellent economy.

On my rural drive I found there was plenty of urge for overtaking using the standard kickdown in comfort mode.

But although the manual gearchange paddles behind the wheel are a good size and work better than many, very few owners are ever likely to use them because the automatic gearbox does the job so well.

Even on what were at times fairly rough roads, the level of comfort was excellent, only upset very occasionally at slow speeds.

The top HSE spec of the car I drove comes with just about everything I would venture to suggest, and that includes a large, square, easy access boot, good rear legroom, wonderfully supportive front seats with leather upholstery and a multi-function steering wheel.

It has keyless entry and starting, a digital instrument binnacle, automatic start stop, parking sensors front and rear, sat nav and a raft of electronic safety devices. But the climate control is difficult to use and takes a little learning.

FAST FACTS

Price: £42,460

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

Max Speed: 132mph

0-62mph: 8 seconds

Combined MPG: 46

Insurance Group: 28

C02 emissions: 142g/km

Bik rating: 36%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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