The Jaguar XE is the most important car Jaguar has made in recent times. It’s important because it takes the company into a new segment, bringing the idea of an ‘affordable’ Jaguar to a multitude of new customers, as well as introducing a new range of diesel and eventual engines.
Crucially, this new Jaguar must be every bit as engaging and fun to drive as its larger siblings, the Jaguar XF and Jaguar F-Type, while also delivering value for money. By any measure, it’s a tall order.
Understandably, then, we couldn’t wait to welcome an XE on to our long- term fleet. It’s a mid-range R-Sport model, sitting between the lesser SE and Prestige trims, and the high-spec Portfolio and S models. It has a lot of equipment as standard including an 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, R-Sport bodykit and sports suspension, chrome exterior trim, autonomous emergency braking, automatic headlights and wipers, rear parking sensors and keyless start.
Its biggest rival, the BMW 320d M Sport auto, also has an eight-speed automatic transmission as well as metallic paint and front and rear parking sensors. At the time of publishing (October 2015) the BMW was £33,835 - around £1000 cheaper than our £34,775 XE and, with 187bhp under the bonnet, more powerful, too. That price has now risen to £34,320 - making the price difference narrower.
That’s with the Jaguar in standard trim, too. Options on our test car raise its price higher still. We might not have chosen the Cold Climate Pack (which brings heated seats and a heated steering wheel) or the wi-fi hotspot ourselves, but since we were keen to get into an XE as soon as possible, we let Jaguar decide. Along with larger 18in alloy wheels, Parking Pack (which includes a rear-facing camera), electric front seats and metallic paint, the total price of our test car is £38,210.
We’ve been impressed with the XE in range-topping 335bhp V6 form, but the core of the range lies in Jaguar Land Rover’s Ingenium petrol and diesel engines. The 2.0-litre diesel in our model offers up 178bhp and 317lb ft, enough to see the XE to 60mph in 7.4sec and on to a top speed of 140mph. Jaguar says our XE should return up to 67.3mpg on the combined cycle, while emitting 111g/km of CO2.