The general industry-wide shift towards making cleaner, less cluttered interiors is mirrored in the new XE, whose dashboard is dominated by a central touchscreen.

Around it, there are eight buttons that are mostly first-tier menu shortcuts, and there are just two discreet rows of push-buttons below the screen. All are very straightforward and logical, too – you can control the temperature without having to bother the touchscreen, for example – if lacking in outright character and flair. 

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
USB and aux sockets are tucked away beneath the centre armrest, so you don’t have to worry about hiding cables and devices when you leave the car unattended

Colours are reserved – at least on R-Sport models, although less overtly ‘sporting’ trim levels can move away from black – and there aren’t detail touches like the slow-rotating air vents or electrically buttoned glovebox opening of the early XFs. That’s probably sensible when you work out the cost of fitting them compared with the number of people for whom it’s a deal-breaker. The ‘surprise and delight’ will come elsewhere, Jaguar hopes.

But what’s in place is good. It feels respectably well assembled, the perceived quality of materials is fairly high and things are laid out logically. The gentle twist and rise of the automatic gear selector is, to be fair, still a neat touch and, coupled with an electronic handbrake switch, makes plenty of room in the centre of the transmission tunnel for an armrest, two large cupholders and an array of switches to adjust the drive modes. More on those later.

The driving position is also sound. Standard R-Sport cars get eight-way adjustable seats. There are 10-way (fitted to our test car) and 14-way adjustable options, too. However, all give the same net effect: a seating position notable for the fact that you become quickly unaware of it. The seats are comfortable and supportive, the wheel brought easily into reach and the dials clear.

Things are not quite so impressive in the rear of the cabin, where the seats have a smidgen less room than the leading cars in this class. It’s only a centimetre or two here and there, you might argue, and in a bench usually only occupied by children anyway. Fair point.

As a £400 option, the rear seatbacks can split 40/20/40 to augment a 455-litre boot – again, smaller than the class norm but not by a substantial margin. Both the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, for example, have 480 litres of boot space with the seats up.

There are five trim levels to choose from, however the S trim is only available with the 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine. Those looking for a smaller capacity engine will have to make do with the other four trim levels, which makes it competitive in a congested compact exec market.

An XE with the entry-level SE trim will see the car shod with keyless entry and start, intelligent cruise control, 17in alloys, rear parking sensors, and auto headlights and wipers. The basic Jaguar will even come with a fully loaded infotainment including sat nav.

The mid-range Prestige gets heated front seats and leather upholstery, while the R-Sport trim gets a sporty bodykit, xenon headlights and LED day running lights. Those looking for a little more personalisation are well catered for with the Portfolio XE, as it includes Windsor leather seats and Herringbone perforations and tonal stitching, and a Meridian sound system.

Those wanting to get an XE S fitted with the 335bhp 3.0-litre V6 will also get adaptable suspension, electrically adjustable leather seats, red brake calipers and a staple S bodykit.

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