New York, Melbourne, Bermuda... there’s nothing like an exotic road trip. And this is nothing like an exotic road trip, because we’re talking about New York in Lincolnshire, Melbourne in Derbyshire and Bermuda in Warwickshire.
These three internationally renowned place names appear as waypoints on the 330-mile itinerary we’re tracing around the heart of England to see how the box-fresh Jaguar XE – in benefit-in-kind-beating 2.0 diesel form – fares when faced with a long day in the life of a company car. And although we’re no Phileas Foggs, photographer Will Williams and I are hoping to uncover some of the exoticism hidden among these green and pleasant lands.
8.53am Northampton services, M1
Although neither green nor pleasant, Northampton services at junction 15a of the M1 is a handy place to meet Williams and our Polaris White XE. The car is in Portfolio spec, which is the plushest of the four trim levels available on cooking models and, at £35,425, splits the difference between the cheapest XE – the cloth-upholstered, £26,990, 197bhp petrol four-pot SE – and the range-topping, £44,865 XE S that packs the 335bhp supercharged V6 from the F-Type.
A stack of extras adds around £10k to our car’s price – unrepresentative of the norm but worthy in terms of letting us trial features such as adaptive suspension (£800), head-up display (£1000) and driving position memory pack with folding door mirrors (£935). Adaptive cruise control (£1500) is the only omission that frequent trips like this might justify.
After brimming the fuel tank, there’s a moment to appreciate the cabin before we depart. Leather and soft-touch finishes abound – you have to reach down to the door bins to find anything more brittle – and there’s a definite feeling of luxury, although the dark tones in our car conspire with the chunky, high-set centre console to make the cabin seem cosy more than airy.