During the past three years, if you’d asked us which compact executive car you should buy, we’d have had only one answer: a BMW 3 Series.
Yet Jaguar has now launched a car that feels as good inside as the BMW, is virtually as accommodating and, crucially, is for the most part better to drive. Certainly, it excels over the other main players in this sector, the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. In doing that, Jaguar has done what Lexus, Infiniti and others could not.
Jaguar hasn’t just made an alternative to the big three – offering something a little different, a touch quirky – to snare a few buyers. Instead, it has been brave enough to make a car capable of taking on the established players at their own game.
Because it has put a lot of stock into interior feel and dynamic ability, it has succeeded. There’s still a little work to be done to make both the four-pot petrol and diesel motors as appealing as the XE deserves, but be in no doubt about its abilities. But be in no doubt the waters are far murkier than when the XE arrived, with the 3 Series the main target, since then Audi has revamped the A4 and Alfa Romeo has stormed the scene with its handsome and barnstorming Guilia. Never has the compact exec market been full of such a rich choice of options.