From £26,0657
Jaguar's attempt to beat Audi at its quattro game is good, but the rear-drive XEs offer more fun

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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28 July 2016

What is it?

It might not be as important to Jaguar’s future as the F-Pace, or indeed the XE itself, but this new all-wheel-drive version of the brand’s smallest saloon is born out of the same desire to expand into sectors of the market traditionally dominated by the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

The drive system is related to the one found in other Jaguars, which means it’s mostly rear-biased. In fact, much of the time the car remains entirely rear-wheel drive, before diverting up to 50% of its power towards the front when slip is detected.

Naturally there’s a penalty for the additional hardware, with weight rising by around 100kg, and CO2 emissions and fuel consumption figures are also heading in the wrong direction. However, both figures remain competitive with those of direct rivals.

For now, all-wheel drive can be specified only with the 178bhp Ingenium diesel engine and eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox.

What's it like?

The opportunities to test a car such as this to its fullest on British roads in July are so limited that most of the time you’re completely unaware of the presence of all-wheel drive. It’s only when accelerating out of damp roundabouts that you notice the additional traction.

Still, the fact that this car is much like any other XE to drive is no bad thing. While the 19in wheels and firmer R Sport suspension set-up of our test car give the ride a firm edge around town, it’s never crashy. And at higher speeds the body is beautifully controlled over undulations and through bends.

Only the steering disappoints compared with rear-wheel-drive XEs, because it’s less consistent in its reactions and in the building up of weight. However, the problem is more noticeable when it’s in Normal mode than it is in the meatier Sport setting, with the latter still allowing you to place the front wheels with greater precision than you can in a Quattro-equipped Audi A4.

The all-wheel-drive XE also offers sufficient performance to keep pace with any modern traffic and allow safe overtakes, although the gearbox can be a little indecisive at times. The engine sounds coarser than the best four-cylinder units both at idle and at higher revs.

Away from the dynamics, the other news is that the XE is now available with the more sophisticated of Jaguar’s two infotainment systems. Dubbed InControl Touch Pro, this replaces the standard 8.0in touchscreen interface with a 10.2in display.

True, it’s not cheap at £1125 (or £615 on Portfolio and S models), and it’s still more distracting to use on the move than Audi’s MMI system or BMW’s iDrive. However, it’s much quicker to respond than the standard Jaguar set-up and brings sharper graphics and additional functionality, such as the ability to serve as a wi-fi hotspot for up to eight devices.

As for the rest of the car, it’s much the same as any other XE. That means the driving position is great, with the raised centre console supporting your knee and elbow rather than restricting your movement, but it also means adults will be cramped in the back. Overall material quality falls short of that of the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series, too.

Should I buy one?

If you’re in the market for an all-wheel-drive saloon – and if you rarely carry rear passengers – this XE is worth considering, because it’s competitively priced and offers a blend of comfort and control that no rival can match. 

But unless you live somewhere that gets snow regularly, the equivalent rear-wheel-drive XE is a better choice. It’s quicker, cheaper, easier on fuel and more enjoyable to drive. 

Steve Huntingford

Jaguar XE 2.0d 180 AWD R Sport

Location Middlesex; On sale Now; Price £36,575; Engine 4 cyls, 1999cc, diesel; Power 178bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 317lb ft at 1750-2500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1615kg; 0-62mph 7.9sec; Top speed 140mph; Economy 60.1mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 123g/km, 24%; Rivals Audi A4 2.0 TDI 190 quattro; BMW 320d xDrive

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Comments
5

29 July 2016
An AWD system with 19 inch summer tyres isn't going to make much difference in bad weather. In fact those extra 100kg would count against you when stopping or turning. Unless you want to tow, just put some sensible sized winter tyres on your RWD XE in the colder months.

31 July 2016
Will86 wrote:

An AWD system with 19 inch summer tyres isn't going to make much difference in bad weather. In fact those extra 100kg would count against you when stopping or turning. Unless you want to tow, just put some sensible sized winter tyres on your RWD XE in the colder months.

I've been using winter tyres all year round for the last fifteen years or so. I used to drive a lot in the early hours and at three o'clock on a damp August morning the temperature can easily drop into the range where one notices clear benefits from the more pliant rubber. Even heavy daytime showers can reduce surface temperatures enough to make their qualities clear. And contrary to reputation they don't wear any faster than standard tyres either.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

29 July 2016
That thing is tiny in the back. They should have just made a coupe. The rear seat is pointless.

29 July 2016
As long as you don't have passengers in the back?! Think I'm missing the point of a saloon car maybe :) Looks quite nice but you might as well get a 320d/420d Gran Coupe!

3 August 2016
Hallelujah brother.

Full marks at last for a candid reviewer of the XE - the crimped rear seat accomodations of this vehicle haven't been addressed head on in other reviews I have read of this vehicle.

3 August 2016
Hallelujah brother.

Full marks at last for a candid reviewer of the XE - the crimped rear seat accomodations of this vehicle haven't been addressed head on in other reviews I have read of this vehicle.

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