It’s tempting to say that the driving experience of the XE is like its seats and driving position, in that very quickly you don’t give it a second thought.
But that risks making the Jaguar’s dynamics sound forgettable and uninteresting, which isn’t the case at all. It’s just that the XE is so easy to drive because its control weights and responses are entirely in tune with our your expectations. Be in no doubt: this is the most pleasing car in the class to drive.
It’s fair to assume that a car will work best on the roads of the country in which it was developed, but even on our earliest drives of the XE, in Spain, we knew that we were in a car with class-leading dynamics.
The addition of 19in wheels to our R-Sport test car has done little to adversely affect the ride, which is deftly controlled and never crashy, whether you keep the drive mode in Normal or place it in Dynamic, which firms the damping (where the optional adaptive dampers are equipped) and adjusts the steering weight.
But unlike in some models, where one setting is too firm and the other too soft because some managers decided there needed to be more distinction between the two, both modes on the Jaguar are eminently usable, with only subtle distinctions between the two.
However you set the mode, the XE is at once relaxing yet engaging. It steers with initial directness and middling weight but easy, predictable reactions, responding off straight-ahead with a positive, natural build-up of weight and feel, and retaining a stiction-free, oily smoothness throughout its 2.6 turns between locks.
That its dynamics are as accomplished as they are is a credit to its engineers, and presumably to the XE’s hardware. There’s the integral link suspension, whose weight and cost per unit Jaguar tolerates not only because it gives superior dynamics but also because it’ll be used on the forthcoming XF, and having the same set-up on both cars is cheaper in the long run.
At the front, meanwhile, there are double wishbones on each side, so the XE’s spec sheet is as good as it gets. Nevertheless, the engineers who set it up should take a bow.