You would have thought that a compact, relatively affordable and positively decent-to-drive Jag would have set the sales charts alight. But since its 2015 launch, the XE has played second fiddle to its executive-car rivals, the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, even on home turf.
Odd, that, because this suave four-door saloon ticks many of the boxes buyers of such cars would go for: it’s good looking, it has a premium badge and it comes handsomely equipped.
However, if new car customers were too easily swayed elsewhere, used car buyers can now put a good example on their driveway for buttons.
Initially, petrol options ranged from a choice of 2.0-litre engines in three states of tune: 197bhp, 237bhp and 296bhp. If that wasn’t enough, a swift supercharged 3.0-litre V6 S dispatched 335bhp, or 375bhp in post-2017 form. Diesel options included three differing 2.0-litre engines: a slightly lacklustre 161bhp unit, a punchy but gruff 178bhp version and a 237bhp four-wheel-drive option that was swift but thirsty.
Entry-level SE cars come with 17in alloys, dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers and cruise control. Step up to Prestige for leather upholstery and heated front seats. R-Sport models get xenon headlights, a sports styling kit, 18in alloys and sports seats, while Portfolio adds an upgraded sound system and fully electric seat adjustment. It’s on the road that the refined XE shines brightest.
While other executive saloons cars are better finished and more spacious, none handles as sweetly: if you’re after a sporty executive saloon, then look no further. The steering is fluent, consistent and uncorrupted, and the XE’s balance and precision when cornering, allied to expertly judged body control, are a fine compromise against a mostly supple and quiet ride.
The car’s interior is pleasant and fairly luxurious, if not quite up to those of the car’s German rivals. The black plastics and leathers can be a bit plain, admittedly, but lighter and more visually appealing two-tone upholsteries are also offered. The car’s switchgear is all either grained or rubberised, and its instruments are pleasingly conventional and clear.