JLR’s push towards powertrain autonomy is not just about improving engine performance but also about getting true control of its own engine destiny.
Sit in that petrol XE, push the starter and the engine fires to a muted idle. There’s nothing here to suggest that this is an old unit overdue for replacement. It eases away from rest smartly enough and the initial change feels smooth and precise. ZF’s eight-speed automatic transmission wouldn’t have it any other way.
In general driving the XE is an easy-going car in which to bimble around. On the odd occasion, downshifts are a little sluggish to arrive, as the gearbox software hangs on to a higher gear to maintain its economy, but such is the turbocharged petrol engine’s torque delivery that it’s seldom a great hardship; its 206lb ft peak arrives at just 1750rpm, and down there it’s more responsive than most diesels. On those occasions when the delay on downshift is noticable, response to a left-paddle pull is swift anyway.
The XE in 197bhp tune is quick enough. Against the clock, it hauled itself to 60mph along Millbrook’s mile straight in 7.6sec. That’s a few tenths slower than is claimed for an Audi A4 2.0 TFSI or BMW 320i but not a difference that’ll feel noticeable in the real world.
Simply, this is a car of sufficient performance to keep pace with any modern traffic, accomplish sensible overtakes and entertain you with its demeanour in the process. It’s quiet on part-throttle and spins freely and with a peppy, smooth sound to its 7000rpm redline, although there’s no great compulsion to take it there, given that peak power arrives at 5500rpm.