First Drive

First Drive: Jaguar XE

The story:
Four years after it was first launched, the XE has now received its mid-life facelift. As well as a host of design and innovation upgrades to the visible parts of the car, the new XE gains a 2.0-litre 180hp diesel that’s RDE2 compliant in rear-drive form.
Category:Compact Executive
Key rival:BMW 3-Series
Jaguar XE D180 SE RWD
Price:£36,025
MPG:46.0 -50.7mpg
Emissions:130g/km
On sale:Now

 

Jaguar’s most fleet-friendly car, the XE, has been given a mid-life makeover with a facelift on the outside, a tech upgrade
on the inside and a simplified engine line-up with one important addition: an RDE2-compliant diesel engine.

The engine range comprises a 250hp 2.0-litre petrol, which is expected to be the best seller overall, a 300hp 2.0-litre petrol and the 180hp diesel, which is likely to be the best seller in the company car market because qualifying for RDE2 means the car isn’t subject to the 4% benefit-in-kind tax penalty. The XE is the only car in the class that meets these new regulations.

First Drive-May 2019-Jaguar XE-Image 6However, while all engines are available in either rear-drive or all-wheel-drive forms, only the rear-drive version of the diesel meets this new standard.

The 180D in S and SE trim levels ]hit 130g/km while the top HSE trim level comes in at 132g/km, significantly higher than the Jag’s German rivals. Each trim level can also be specified with the R-dynamic styling kit that gives the XE a sportier look at no penalty to the CO2 figure.

The XE remains one of the most comfortable cars in its class, while also offering suspension that, along with well-weighted steering, is still fun in sweeping corners. Tighter and twistier roads, however, can catch the diesel out because the long pedal travel can make the brakes difficult to modulate and the eight-speed gearbox can leave the engine in a part of the rev range that lacks shove.

As well as the cosmetic changes, Jaguar has added an acoustic windscreen that has a marked impact on the overall quietness in the cabin. And it’s in the cabin where things have taken the biggest leap forward. Now all materials that look soft-touch are exactly that.

Standard kit across the range includes powered front seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a new infotainment and sat-nav screen and a new part-digital dash screen with analogue dials. Jaguar is also pushing Touch Pro Duo – which adds a control screen below the navigation – and the digital rear-view mirror, first seen on the Range Rover Evoque (see p20).

While the price has risen by around £2,000, the extra equipment that’s now included and the tax advantage on the D180 give the XE a shot at company car money despite the above-average emissions.

 

Tristan Young

The verdict

The first car in the segment to qualify for RDE2 (albeit just the D180 RWD) plus great levels of comfort and refinement make the XE more competitive.