For the XE to stand a fighting chance of catching a fleet manager’s eye, it was necessary for Jaguar to produce a genuine sub-£30k rival to the BMW 320d, Audi A4 2.0 TDI and Mercedes-Benz C220. As a collection of figures, the lower-powered 161bhp diesel engine in entry-level SE format provides Jaguar with its rock star.
Sub-100g/km, 75mpg potential, 8.4sec to 62mph, intervals of more than 20,000 miles between services, standard 17in wheels and 8.0in of infotainment touchscreen are almost the ideal numbers on which to prop a compact executive range.
The mid-range seems decently catered for, too. As well as the mildly enhanced R-Sport tested here, there are Prestige and Portfolio trim levels, which offer differing degrees of leather-bound luxury.
Step up to Prestige and you gain leather front seats, brushed aluminium interior trim and ambient lighting, while Portfolio adds electric seats, bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights and 18in alloy wheels.
R-Sport gets sports suspension, a different design of 18in alloys, leather seats, more aluminium trim, a rear spoiler and a sports steering wheel. Range-topping S trim is reserved for the 375bhp 3.0-litre supercharged V6 and has adaptive dampers as standard, 19in alloy wheels, an 'S' bodykit and brings even posher interior finishes - as it should.
In terms of ideal spec, many compact executive car essentials — sat-nav, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, DAB radio, Bluetooth, rear parking sensors — are standard across the range, so stepping up the trim levels is as much about styling and internal opulence as kit. That said, the Meridian stereo (£500) and heated steering wheel (£185) would make our tick list.