Our XE shows its true colours as one of the best cars in its class on a motorway blat and proper driver’s B-road

We treat our Jaguar XE long-termer to some of the UK's best stretches of tarmac. How does it perform?

The B4632 between Stratford-upon Avon and Cheltenham is, according those who know these things, one of the best driving roads in the UK.

It’s a road that would seem well suited to a car that, our road testers say, is the most pleasing to drive in its class.

As luck would have it, I was signed up to attend an event in Newbury, west Berkshire, a few weeks ago.

I had to be there in the afternoon, so I devised a route that took me the long way round — up the M40 to Stratford-upon-Avon, then across to Cheltenham on the B4632 and down to Newbury on the kind of country roads we like to use for testing.

On the motorway leg, the XE was flawless and the first 90 miles were quiet, comfortable and economical, broken by only a quick stop at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon, right next to Jaguar Land Rover’s headquarters.

I saw three other XEs on the way as well. They’re spreading.

The B4632 starts like many country roads, winding through olde worlde hamlets and villages outside Stratford before rising into the countryside. And, God, it’s a good road, with turns in all the right places and stunning scenery.

Here, the XE really came into its own. With Jaguar’s Drive Control system turned to Sport mode and the transmission controlled by the wheel-mounted paddles, the XE is very engaging to drive.

Its steering is weighted beautifully and it feels superbly planted through every turn. I love the throttle response in Sport mode, too.

The only letdown was the noise. Instead of the brilliant sound of the supercharged 3.0-litre V6 available in the XE S, my soundtrack was the hum of our car's 178bhp Ingenium 2.0-litre diesel engine.

Still, that drive demonstrated why our road testers think so highly of the XE. It’s an easy and very enjoyable car to drive quickly, but also one that can revert back to being a comfortable motorway cruiser at the push of a button.

In a sub-£35,000 junior saloon, that’s a real achievement by Jaguar’s engineers.

Awkward to get in to

Blame it on middle age or the fact that I’m now a regular SUV driver, but I found the XE notably awkward to get in and out of when I borrowed it for a long weekend.

The door openings are relatively small, the seats are low-set and you have to fold yourself up when entering in an effort to avoid cracking your head on the roof.

I’ve driven two-door coupés that are better in this respect. Allan Muir

Jaguar XE R-Sport 2.0 I4 180PS

Mileage 9760 Price £34,775 Price as tested £38,210 Economy 46.7mpg Faults Infotainment system glitch Expenses None

Read our previous long term reports here:

First report

Real-world fuel economy

Our Verdict

Jaguar XE

Jaguar's first attempt at a compact exec saloon is good - very good. But can the XE hold off the BMW 3 Series and Alfa Romeo Guilia to retain its crown?

Join the debate

Comments
9

28 May 2016
I just can't get excited by this car. Which really disappoints me, after the xf I couldn't wait for this to come out, without seeing it I was going to get one. Now it's here, it just seems so bland. I have to say the new c class has bags of style inside and out and I have to say makes this look very ordinary.

28 May 2016
ridnufc wrote:

I just can't get excited by this car. Which really disappoints me, after the xf I couldn't wait for this to come out, without seeing it I was going to get one. Now it's here, it just seems so bland. I have to say the new c class has bags of style inside and out and I have to say makes this look very ordinary.

Presumably, you have absolutely no interest in whether or not a car is enjoyable to drive and that its styling is the most important factor when considering a purchase.

30 May 2016
You speak as if the other vehicles in the segment are complete dogs to drive. They aren't. This may well drive nicely, but that is not enough to compensate for the already out of date styling and the budget interior. That is NOT an interior befitting of a car in this segment.

The fact that (according to Autocar) it may corner round a certain section of road ever so slightly "better" is absolultey irrelevant to 99% of buyers in the class. And it certianly does not excuse it for notable shortcomings in other areas.

I rememebr when the X type was launched and how Autocar then lauded it as best in class. History judged it soemwhat differently....

3

28 May 2016
(Quote) "I found the XE notably awkward to get in and out of when I borrowed it for a long weekend.

The door openings are relatively small, the seats are low-set and you have to fold yourself up when entering in an effort to avoid cracking your head on the roof." (Unquote)

The headline gives the car's dynamics fulsome praise. And yet it turns out that the cabin is cramped. This not being a sports car but a day to day family saloon, I think such shortcomings must be a determining factor in choosing or not choosing the XE over, say, the C class. The long bonnet short cabin approach to the XE 's proportions is a rather odd design decision for a compact saloon in which surely cabin space is more important.

29 May 2016
Which article were you reading abkq? I cannot find the part that says the cabin is cramped.

I have driven the C Class and it is OK. The XE is superb according to the article. If I was in the market for such a car, I would do some test drives of various cars. Then on that basis, narrow the list down to an eventual purchase. This like any article is an opinion, one that may or may not agree with what you find.

As for the look of the car, I love it. Beautifully proportioned and very easy on the eye. The C-Class is boringly safe, Audis look dull and BMW's 3 Series nice but outclassed by the XE on it's strong suit, the drive. Again just an opinion.

29 May 2016
RayCee wrote:

Which article were you reading abkq? I cannot find the part that says the cabin is cramped.

I have driven the C Class and it is OK. The XE is superb according to the article. If I was in the market for such a car, I would do some test drives of various cars. Then on that basis, narrow the list down to an eventual purchase. This like any article is an opinion, one that may or may not agree with what you find.

As for the look of the car, I love it. Beautifully proportioned and very easy on the eye. The C-Class is boringly safe, Audis look dull and BMW's 3 Series nice but outclassed by the XE on it's strong suit, the drive. Again just an opinion.

The above article - supplementary paragraph by Allan Muir. Irrespective of legroom, if the door is so short that it's difficult to get in and out then this is a major design flaw in a family saloon. To limit the overall length of a compact exec saloon, you get either a long bonnet or a long cabin. In the XE it is the bonnet length that wins, probably because in anticipation of the forthcoming straight 6 engines. This means that cabin space has to be compromised, and that buyers of smaller engineed XEs, 3 series, C class will be driving around a lot of air under the bonnet. Not the most elegant solution. I look forward to compact saloons fitted with a range of small efficient engines, with the A pillar moved well forward that leaves a lot of room for the cabin.

29 May 2016
Really? Have you ever seen one? It's one of the ugliest cars ever designed.

30 May 2016
I suppose it's personal taste, but all my life jags have been something special and stunning. I don't want the retro style back at all. But Jags should be modern and something special. For me this is just a let down. I really thought they would do something that made me go wow. This doesn't and looks like a Volvo s40 in side view and even has the Volvo r sport wheels. The front is excellent but the rest is so bland. Jag interiors should push the boundaries, this is what I would expect on a Hyundai. As for the handling people mention, all these cars are so similar most won't be able to tell the difference. If you are driving round roundabouts with the traction off you need to grow up. And let's be honest if that's what it was about you wouldn't be buying a 30k saloon car. I'm now being torn apart in side for not falling in love with this jag.

2 June 2016
if you miss a long term review on the home page-its gone forever! we need a separate tab!
lambo for life

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