It’s possible that you might find the XE underwhelming to look at. Clearly, Jaguar has not used the same magic markers with which it penned the Project 7 or even regular F-Type.

What it has done instead is build on the groundwork laid by the XF and XJ to produce a sleek, compact saloon that is very recognisably a Jaguar.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Chief tester
Aluminium, JLR's go-to material, accounts for 75% of the body weight in the Jaguar XE

Underneath, though, it has been far more intrepid. The XE is the first Jaguar to use the iQ platform, an all-new piece of modular architecture destined to underpin cars as diverse as the next XF and Range Rover Evoque.

Aluminium, JLR’s go-to material, accounts for 75% of the body weight in the XE, with most of the rest being the high-strength steel found in the doors, boot and rear underbody (for better weight distribution) and in the B-pillars as a reinforcing element.

Use of the alloy makes the platform slightly lighter than that of its rivals, but overall the car is not – a fact partly attributable to Jaguar’s insistence that it uses not only front double wishbones in the XE but also its 'integral link' rear suspension in place of a conventional multi-link setup.

The engineers were willing to absorb the weight penalty because it does a better job of isolating the driven rear wheels from unwanted directional forces, helping to deliver the superior mix of suppleness and agility that typically distinguishes a Jaguar from its rivals. Similarly, the state of tune sought in the electrically assisted steering is intended to be redolent of the immediacy of the F-Type’s.

Currently, one engine carries over from the F-Type, too: the 335bhp supercharged 3.0-litre V6. Other engines are a mix of existing and new units. The biggest news on the engine front is JLR’s new engine family, called Ingenium, which is a genuine clean-sheet design. Both petrol and diesel versions are based around a common block, sharing the same bore and stoke, 500cc cylinder capacity and spacing. Like the platform, there is an inherent modular flexibility to the engine’s anatomy, so both down and upsizing are already anticipated.

In lower-powered 2.0-litre diesel guise, with a new six-speed manual gearbox, it develops 161bhp and 280lb ft of torque while returning 74.3mpg combined and emitting just 99g/km of CO2. Even the 178bhp version, with 317lb ft on tap, manages 67.3mpg and 109g/km. The optional eight-speed automatic tempers the figures a little, but the XE is safely among the class leaders.

Four-cylinder petrol Ingenium units are set to arrive in the near future – a sensible enough decision on Jaguar’s part. The diesels will steal the majority of sales, after all.

Initially, then, the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol unit is the one found in the XF and XJ. Built in Valencia, Spain, this Ford-sourced but tweaked-for-Jaguar four-cylinder engine is available in 197bhp and 236bhp outputs and is mated exclusively to a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission.

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