There are perhaps few bigger tests of a junior executive saloon than the great British family holiday. For our long-term Jaguar XE, that came with a long weekend at Center Parcs in Suffolk.
Three generations of the family were going, so we needed two cars. So while most participants were loaded into the family Ford S-Max, I was tasked with taking my grandparents in the Jaguar. I was impressed with how well the XE swallowed our luggage, but at 455 litres, the XE’s boot is some way behind that of the BMW 3 Series. The load bay slopes upwards, too, meaning some clever packing is required to get everything in place.
With everyone on board, we were surprised by the spaciousness of the XE’s cabin, although it is a little dark without the optional panoramic sunroof. For £1000, it would really brighten up the interior.
All passengers also commented on the clarity of the XE’s 8.0in infotainment display. By default, it displays a home screen that shows the outside temperature, current location, phone connectivity and audio information in a single display, with separate screens for more in-depth data accessed by touchscreen or via buttons. While the system can be slow to respond at start-up, it is dependable and easy to use. Crucially, it has never failed to find a destination.
However, I can’t shake the feeling that Jaguar’s larger multimedia system, the 10.2in InControl Touch Pro, would be a better fit with the premium image the XE wants to achieve. Having tried the system in the larger Jaguar XF, I know just how good it is. Excellent news, then, that Jaguar has just announced you’ll be able to have that set-up in the XE soon enough. I’d suggest it should be the first option box you tick.
One area where the XE doesn’t shine as brightly is in its driver’s display. It’s fairly static, showing temperature and fuel gauges, gear selection and speed, with trip information at the bottom. There’s nothing wrong with its design, but it doesn’t look as visually appealing as the latest solutions offered in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the new Audi A4. A bit more colour and style here would liven things up significantly.
So anyway, we cruised along the A14 in Eco mode towards Center Parcs, although I only managed to improve the XE’s fuel economy by 0.5mpg on the way. The car proved comfortable on the motorway, and despite the distance covered, there were no complaints of stiff joints at the other end.
It would be easy not to give a second thought to just how controlled the XE feels at higher speeds, whether on the motorway or on smaller country roads, but that would be to do a major disservice to Jaguar’s engineers. The ability to turn from relaxing executive cruiser into engaging sports saloon is something few of the XE’s rivals can manage — but it’s a feat Jaguar appears to have accomplished with ease.