Sporting a coupé-like silhouette, the XE looks the part. But its practicality suffers as a result

At first glance the Jaguar XE wouldn’t appear to be a suitable companion for our photographers and videographers, who run some of the largest and most spacious cars on our fleet.

It’s because they are invariably carrying mountains of gear and need to accommodate cameras, tripods, luggage cases and all the rest.

We’ve noted in the past that, at 455 litres, the XE’s boot is smaller than those of its rivals from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, but videographer James Holloway said he was impressed by how our swallowed all of his gear. That said, some clever packing was required. He also noted how the slope of the boot floor made loading larger items difficult — something I found too, when I took the XE on a family holiday late last year.

I’ve also had the chance to try an extended stint in the XE’s back seats. As one of our game-changing cars of 2016, the Jaguar was due to appear alongside some of our other Autocar Awards winners at our Silverstone event. With the driver’s seat already filled, I bundled into the back, having lost the battle for the remaining front seat.

It’s a consequence of the XE’s coupé-like silhouette — one of its strongest virtues, in my opinion — that the car’s roofline slopes dramatically towards the rear, which means getting in and out of the rear cabin isn’t exactly dignified. You have to remember to dip your head more than you would in other saloons, or receive a painful reminder halfway down, and once you’re in, it isn’t what you’d call spacious.

It’s fine for children and smaller adults, but anyone over six feet tall is likely to struggle over long distances. The journey to Silverstone, for example, took 90 minutes, and by the end I’d lost contact with my lower limbs.

Still, once the XE was at Silverstone it didn’t look out of place next to its seriously exotic companions. Jaguar’s designers have really worked wonders here, and the XE looks better than anything else in this class, especially with the sports bodykit our R-Sport model wears.

With the Autocar Awards over, I faced the motorway trek to get home again. It was gone 11pm and I had to be in the office the next morning, so it was time to make what our road test department would call ‘rapid progress’ back home.

Halfway back down the M40, I noticed two things. Firstly, that it’s a real shame lumbar support isn’t included as standard on any XE model. For a £30,000-plus car competing in this market, that’s something of an oversight. James said he’d rather have lumbar support and forgo the electric seat adjustment on our car.

Secondly, the xenon headlights, which are standard with R-Sport models, do an excellent job of lighting the road. They’re bright enough to make using full beam unnecessary in most situations and offer great clarity.

Jaguar XE 2.0 i4 180 R-Sport

Mileage 11,080 Price £34,775 Price as tested £38,210 Economy 46.3mpg Faults Infotainment system fault (fixed) Expenses None Last seen 25.5.16

Read our previous long term reports here:

First report

Real-world fuel economy

A weekend away 

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?

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Comments
14

30 June 2016
So then... The boot is smaller than rivals and awkward to load larger items. Once you've negotiated the awkward rear door entrance, you'll find the rear space is tighter and more uncomfortable than rivals but is 'fine for smaller children and smaller adults'. The drivers seat is uncomfortable. The fuel economy also lags behind rivals by around 10%. The Xenon headlights are great, but you have to fork out over £900 for them as they're an option.

And how did Autocar sum this car up in earlier reports? By awarding it four and a half stars and calling it a 'game changer'? It certainly doesn't sound like a game changer to me. (And still looks like a Honda Accord from behind)

30 June 2016
The main problem with premium compact saloon, and not only the XE, is the priority of long bonnet (for the forthcoming straight 6 engine?) over cabin space. Looking at the XE & the C class in profile this is obvious. Yes, you could argue that those who want better rear accommodation could get the XF & the E class instead but they do cost more. The days of intelligent packaging like the A2 & the original A class are long gone. Surely these should be the template for smaller cars, premium or not. But no, these days car design is market driven and manufacturers dare not deviate from the conventional. Look at the XE, where is progress in design?

30 June 2016
...it is not an MPV it isnt a 5 series, it isnt an estate car so why are you marking it down on things that are intrinsic in its size and capabilities ??
It is a small sports saloon with a coupe silhouette it isnt supposed to seat 6 footers in the back or store photographers equipment.

jer

30 June 2016
So you obviously don't drive one and own or work for a rival ... right ? If you had read this magazine you would know that all the factors you list are not as important as how it drives at least to this magazine. You can read others to a more blurred fuzzy review about practicalities.

30 June 2016
jer wrote:

So you obviously don't drive one and own or work for a rival ... right ? If you had read this magazine you would know that all the factors you list are not as important as how it drives at least to this magazine. You can read others to a more blurred fuzzy review about practicalities.

Are you saying that anyone who dares criticise the Jaguar by implication must work for or own a competitor? If I bought a 4 door, 5 seat saloon, I would expect it to be comfortable for adults not just children in the back. If this aspect wasn't important and all that mattered was "how it drives" I would probably have bought a 2 door sports car in the first place.

 

30 June 2016
I have an XE, and 17 & 19 year old sons who are both 5'10". Neither have complained about lack of space. If they had done on the test drive, I would have bought an XF for an extra £20 or so per month. I haven't had any issues with the drivers seat or lumbar adjustment, in fact it hadn't occurred to me, but I don't drive everywhere on the limit as Autocar thinks everyone needs to.

What is the perceived problem?

30 June 2016
[quote=devil's advocate]I have an XE, and 17 & 19 year old sons who are both 5'10". ....I haven't had any issues with the drivers seat or lumbar adjustment....quote]
Autocar clearly made the point "It’s fine for children and smaller adults, but anyone OVER SIX feet tall is likely to struggle over long distances". As to lumbar "ADJUSTMENT" Autocar indicated they didn't have a problem with the ADJUSTMENT it just didn't have lumbar support as standard and found it uncomfortable without it.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

30 June 2016
xxxx][quote=devil's advocate wrote:

I have an XE, and 17 & 19 year old sons who are both 5'10". ....I haven't had any issues with the drivers seat or lumbar adjustment....quote]
Autocar clearly made the point "It’s fine for children and smaller adults, but anyone OVER SIX feet tall is likely to struggle over long distances". As to lumbar "ADJUSTMENT" Autocar indicated they didn't have a problem with the ADJUSTMENT it just didn't have lumbar support as standard and found it uncomfortable without it.

I really am most terribly sorry if you don't like my personal findings on the Jaguar XE. I am over 6 feet tall myself (6'2") and can comfortably travel in the back with my wife who is 5'9" tall driving, including over long distances. Plenty of head and leg room for me. I was completely unaware that Autocar's opinion and judgement is considered definitive and owner drivers comments and findings must be shouted at by you.

30 June 2016
devil's advocate][quote=xxxx wrote:
devil's advocate wrote:

I have an XE, and 17 & 19 year old sons who are both 5'10". ....I haven't had any issues with the drivers seat or lumbar adjustment....quote]
Autocar clearly made the point "It’s fine for children and smaller adults, but anyone OVER SIX feet tall is likely to struggle over long distances". As to lumbar "ADJUSTMENT" Autocar indicated they didn't have a problem with the ADJUSTMENT it just didn't have lumbar support as standard and found it uncomfortable without it.

I really am most terribly sorry if you don't like my personal findings on the Jaguar XE. I am over 6 feet tall myself (6'2") and can comfortably travel in the back with my wife who is 5'9" tall driving, including over long distances. Plenty of head and leg room for me. I was completely unaware that Autocar's opinion and judgement is considered definitive and owner drivers comments and findings must be shouted at by you.

That's OK, perhaps after re-reading the article you'll understand Autocar too didn't have a problem with rear seat room for people under 6 foot. Therefore your post just reinforced their findings. p.s. I'm all for personal finding too!

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

30 June 2016
xxxx][quote=devil's advocate wrote:
xxxx wrote:
devil's advocate wrote:

I have an XE, and 17 & 19 year old sons who are both 5'10". ....I haven't had any issues with the drivers seat or lumbar adjustment....quote]
Autocar clearly made the point "It’s fine for children and smaller adults, but anyone OVER SIX feet tall is likely to struggle over long distances". As to lumbar "ADJUSTMENT" Autocar indicated they didn't have a problem with the ADJUSTMENT it just didn't have lumbar support as standard and found it uncomfortable without it.

I really am most terribly sorry if you don't like my personal findings on the Jaguar XE. I am over 6 feet tall myself (6'2") and can comfortably travel in the back with my wife who is 5'9" tall driving, including over long distances. Plenty of head and leg room for me. I was completely unaware that Autocar's opinion and judgement is considered definitive and owner drivers comments and findings must be shouted at by you.

That's OK, perhaps after re-reading the article you'll understand Autocar too didn't have a problem with rear seat room for people under 6 foot. Therefore your post just reinforced their findings. p.s. I'm all for personal finding too!

XXXX, had you read my reply to your rant, you would find that at 6'2" I am over 6 feet tall, and rear space, head and legroom IS NOT A PROBLEM.

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