Jaguar XE HSE

R-Dynamic 2.0

Jaguar XE, rear
Jaguar XE, front
Jaguar XE, front
Jaguar XE, rear
Jaguar XE, boot
Jaguar XE, rear
Jaguar XE, interior
Jaguar XE, front

BY lucky coincidence my time with the Jaguar XE coincided with a business trip to Machynlleth in West Wales - a fair old poke from my home in Plymouth.

However, as I had no specified arrival time and almost two days to play with, it enabled me to hit some of the best driving roads in the Principality.

The owner of the hotel even jumped in the Jag with me to show me some routes in the hills which I never knew about, were great to drive - even if you had to stop and open a gate from time to time - and wonderfully scenic.

The XE has always been an excellent car to drive but Jaguar has now attempted to address some of the areas where it lagged behind the 3 Series, Audi's A4 and the Mercedes C-Class.

Firstly, the XE now looks much bolder. Instead of looking like an XF that has shrunk in the wash, it has pinched design cues from the F-Type so it appears wider and lower than before, more purposeful and assertive stance. This is emboldened by new all-LED headlights with a striking ‘J' blade daytime running light signature.

The XE's beautifully-crafted new interior features extensive use of soft-touch materials, premium veneers alongside a wealth of new technology. Every aspect of the cabin has been enhanced for increased convenience, improved stowage and better passenger comfort.

The influence of Jaguar's flagship two-seater sportscar is also evident as both the SportShift gear selector and JaguarDrive Control switch shared with the F-Type are on the revised centre console.

Buyers can choose from S, SE and HSE trim levels, with each also available in sporty R-Dynamic guise. Even the entry-level S features automatic transmission, 18-inch wheels, electric leather seats, all-LED headlights and tail-lights with updated signature graphics, front and rear park aid, rear camera and lane keep assist.

Obviously, the HSE is the most luxurious, arriving on 19-inch wheels, along with Windsor leather sports seats, the aforementioned Touch Pro Duo, 360-degree parking aid, rear traffic monitor, adaptive cruise control and high-speed emergency braking.

The car I was driving was fitted with the £1,240 Dynamic Handling Pack, the £445 Cold Climate Pack, which adds a heated windscreen, warming steering wheel and headlight washers, and the £1,470 Technology Pack, which among other things adds a head-up display and wireless charging.

It also adds Jaguar's Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, shared with the multi-award-winning I-Pace, delivering instinctive control through a pair of seamlessly integrated high-resolution touchscreens, and a clever ClearSight Rear View Mirror. This uses a wide-angle rear camera to feed images to a high-definition screen within the frameless rear view mirror; unhindered by tall rear passengers, poor light or rain on the rear screen.

It takes a little getting used to, but once you've cracked it, it becomes almost indispensable.

On the down side, legroom in the rear is a little cramped and the XE's boot is nowhere near the largest in the sector.

Up front, it's a different story. There's plenty of space and the extremely comfortable seats - mounted low for a sportier feel - offer plenty of adjustment.

There's plenty of punch to be had from the 247bhp turbocharged petrol engine, which officially returns up to 36.2mpg. Even though I was driving it quite hard at time, I managed a creditable 33.2mpg.

And, you will want to drive it hard at times. It's strong point - as it always has been - is the balance of ride and handling. Or, to put it another way, hitting the fine line between comfort and fun.

Arguably, the XE does this better than the 3 Series and even impressive newcomers such as the Alfa Romeo Giulia. That's quite something to boast about.

Though it's fabulously endearing to drive in auto, especially on the motorway - where the engine falls almost completely silent - on more challenging roads it's hard to resist using the long, aluminium paddleshifts which give crisp, sharp gear changes.

FAST FACTS

Jaguar XE HSE R-Dynamic 2.0

Price: £40,335

Mechanical:247bhp, 1,997cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed:155mph

0-62mph:6.5 seconds

Combined MPG:36.2

Insurance Group:31

C02 emissions: 159g/km

Bik rating:36%

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