Jaguar XE 2.0 D 180 R-Sport (2015) review

Published:28 January 2015

The version of the Jaguar XE tested here, the highest-powered diesel in R-Sport trim, is predicted to be the best-seller of the range
  • At a glance
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

► We drive make-or-break new Jag XE
► First compact exec Jaguar since X-type
► Driven here in big-selling 2.0-litre diesel spec

Even in the first few metres behind the wheel of the Jaguar XE, the signs are good. You sit relatively low behind a wheel that feels tight and precise immediately off-centre, the new Ingenium 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine’s easy torque is immediately apparent and, even on our test car’s R-Sport suspension and 19-inch alloys, the suspension calmly smothers small bumps.

It needs to be good, this car. There’s a storm of new Jaguar models at the moment, but none is more important than this one.

Why is the Jaguar XE such a crucial car?

Because it’s Jaguar’s second attempt at the vital D-segment (for which read mid-sized saloons), following the largely unloved X-type which slunk out of production in 2010.

It needs to be good, not only to exorcise those demons but to tempt buyers from the likes of the excellent new Mercedes C-class and class-leading BMW 3-series.

What has it got going for it?

An advanced three-quarters aluminium bodyshell, double-wishbone front suspension and a box-fresh diesel engine line-up with CO2 emissions that dip below the magic 100g/km mark.

To these eyes at least, it looks pretty good too.

We’re driving a pre-production prototype packing the 178bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel, the more powerful of the two diesel options at launch. The lower-grade 163bhp diesel costs £500 less, starting from £29,775.

Four-cylinder petrols are on the way and there’s a V6 at launch, but they’re carryover units from elsewhere in Jaguar’s family rather than spangly new Ingenium units.

So, what’s the XE like to drive?

At low speeds there’s a grumbly mew from the four-pot motor but that vanishes once it’s spinning freely on the autoroute. A generous swell of torque whooshes the XE along so effortlessly it feels positively soporific at a three-figure cruise.

Off the motorway, the XE hooks into corners with confidence-inspiring stability and the suspension’s long-travel flow ensures mid-bend bumps won’t deflect it from its line. That stiff aluminium structure and double-wishbone suspension has paid dividends.

It’s comfortable, too. We stop to refuel after four hours and I bound out without a trace of back pain or stiffness.

As good as a 3-series? We’ll need a back-to-back drive to be sure, but gut-feel actually puts the XE ahead by a nose.

What’s about the practicality side of things?

Boot space measures 30 litres smaller than 3-series, A4 and C-class at a still-decent 450 litres. The curved roofline does necessitate a more pronounced duck of the head to gain entry and parents may find belting kids into child seats harder work.

There is room for six-footers in the back, although I’m 6ft 1in and my hair brushes the headlining and my knees touch the seat backs’ solid plastic centres. Still, I could sit there all day with only muffled griping.

Our biggest gripe is an interior that somehow lacks the sparkle of the new C-class's amazing cabin. The Jag's is a decent effort, but lacks the showmanship and glitz factor of the latest Mercedes cockpit, which also renders a 3-series yesteryear inside.

Verdict

The most-important new Jag in decades is brimming with potential. Its competitors won’t be a walkover, but the XE feels ready to take on the world. A group test beckons…

Click here for more news, specs, reviews, scoops and more on the Jaguar XE.

Specs

Price when new: £33,025
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1999cc 16v 4-cyl turbodiesel, 178bhp @ 4000rpm, 317lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 7.8sec 0-62mph, 140mph, 67.3mpg, 109g/km
Weight / material: 1665kg (est) / aluminium/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4672/2075/1416

Rivals

Jaguar XE Cars for Sale

View all Jaguar XE Cars for Sale

Jaguar XE Leasing Deals

Photo Gallery

  • The two diesel engines on offer at launch are brand new four-cylinder Ingenium units
  • The XE's suspension copes well with mid-corner bumps
  • The Jaguar XE's bodyshell is 75% aluminium
  • 178bhp diesel engine is a little grumbly at low speeds but whooshes the XE along quietly on the motorway
  • The XE pictured here is a pre-production prototype - hence the stickers visible in some of the other shots
  • The gear selector rises from the centre console, a trick first introduced on the XF. It's still a neat touch
  • Some of the leather in our test car looked like it had been taken from the cow with a scuffle, but we were driving a pre-production prototype. Finish is likely to be better in showroom-spec cars
  • New InControl 8-inch screen is miles ahead of the useless touchscreen fitted to older Jag models
  • There are 30 fewer litres in here than A4/3-series/C-class. Still roomy
  • R-Sport trim makes the XE look a bit meaner
  • One of the most important cars this badge has been applied to recently

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

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