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First Drive

First Drive: Jaguar XE

Jaguar XE D200 HSE R-Dynamic RWD Auto
The story: The Jaguar XE is designed to provide a stylish and great-driving alternative to the usual German suspects.
Category:Compact executive
Key rival:BMW 320d M Sport
Price:£35,130
Efficiency:58.5mpg
Emissions:127g/km
On sale:Now

The Jaguar XE has a tough gig, because it has to persuade company car drivers that they should ignore the classy and stylish offerings from Germany.

Good news: is that it’s more than up to the task. For a start, look at it. It’s fair to say the XE’s designers got the looks right, with the aggressive front end and sleek profile; it’s just what the average thrusting executive would want, and makes the Audi A4 and BMW 3-Series look a touch drab.

In this new D200 model, the 2.0-litre diesel engine develops 201bhp and 317lb ft of torque, and the resultant performance is pretty eye-opening. The XE pulls away briskly and defies traditional diesel characteristics by feeling even stronger the more it’s revved. Better still, it manages this while displaying a thirst that suggests it doesn’t like the taste of diesel. Emissions of 127g/km are only fractionally worse than those of the BMW 320d, too.

It’s a quiet engine, certainly compared with early XE models, and there’s only a minor grumble at low speeds to let you know it’s a diesel.

The R-Dynamic HSE model tested had 19-inch alloy wheels, which generate a bit too much road noise at speed, however.

first drive - June 2021 - Jaguar XE - Image 4The stiff suspension too gives a firm ride, but the XE handles neatly, turning in sharply and gripping strongly.

Space is fine up front, with a reasonable amount of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel, but the rear seat is snug.

There’s decent room in the boot for everyone’s stuff, though.

Equipment is plentiful, with dual-zone climate control, a self-dimming rear-view mirror, a digital driver’s display, cruise control and a 3D surround camera system, as well as the latest Pivi Pro infotainment set-up, which is responsive enough but can be too complicated to use on the move.

euan doig

 

 

The verdict

XE is a rapid, great-handling sports saloon with a pretty efficient new engine, but make sure you can live with the rear space before committing.