What is it?
At first sight the new 2019-model-year Jaguar XE 300 Sport, the model’s new performance flagship, looks a lot like the XEs we’ve been seeing on UK roads these past three and a bit years, only quite a bit cooler.
The sleek, compact outline is familiar but there are attractive new side-sills in a tasteful semi-matt grey also used for the grille surround, the side vents, the exterior mirror caps and the rear valance, giving the car an unshowy but very businesslike appearance. The wheels are grey, too: 19-inchers as standard but optional 20s on our test car. Get closer and you’ll spot bright new '300 Sport' badges on grille and bootlid.
Jaguar is reverting to four-cylinder power for its XE sporting flagship mainly because V6-powered XEs are no longer offered following the arrival of tougher emissions laws, but it’s no disaster. The 300 Sport gets a twin-turbocharged 296bhp version of the 2.0-litre four-pot, whose installation delivers a weight saving of around 40kg compared with the old V6 (all of it over the front wheels, which aids the 300 Sports’s handling balance).
The 296bhp engine is familiar from Jaguar’s entry-level F-type sports car and the 300 Sport’s performance is very similar: it will hit a governed 155mph and sprint from zero to 60mph in a brisk 5.4 seconds, with the eight-speed paddle-shift auto.
The XE 300 Sport comes with a standard all-wheel-drive system and, naturally for a sporting Jaguar, it has had its own chassis development programme orchestrated by driving guru Mike Cross, who signs off every new model for 'Jaguarness' and joined us as we tried the new car on challenging roads in central Wales, specifically chosen for their variety of corners, surfaces, slopes, cambers and humps that test every nuance of a car’s dynamics.