I got home from work on Friday night at the wheel of a Jaguar XE S. I’d climbed in to it in the dark, enjoyed the drive home in the dark (really enjoyed the drive, as anyone who has read our road test will understand) and parked it by the pavement in the dark.

And then on Saturday morning, I opened the curtains to see three of the local teenagers walking around it and peering through the windows with smiles from ear to ear and talking to each other excitedly.

I know the three of them well: they live locally and love cars, so they tend to take an interest in what I drive. Or at least they do when it’s a Ferrari, McLaren or similar poster car (which is rarely, but often enough to warrant interest).

But never have they shown such an enthusiasm for a compact executive saloon. That got me thinking: for all the objective praise heaped on the XE, it’s worth reminding ourselves that we all judge a car firstly on its looks.

To stop these three in their tracks, en route to a kick about in the park, is no mean feat. Had it been a BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-class I’m pretty certain they would have strolled on by.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, and there's no money in selling dream cars to teenagers, but it did strike me as a sign of how far Jaguar has come. Quite simply, the XE has an X-factor few rivals can muster (except the Alfa Giulia, perhaps) - and that must bode well for the future.

Read our thoughts on a standard Jaguar XE as we give it a thorough going over