The Jaguar XE offers a stylish alternative to the usual brands that dominate the world of small executive saloons. It matches them for sportiness, brand appeal and looks. And adds distinctive appeal based on the mix of Jag’s classic British heritage and its sophisticated modern technology.
The Jaguar XE has an assured, impressive style that creates a different image to its German rivals. Although Jaguar is now owned by India’s Tata group, the XE’s design seamlessly combines the British culture associated with the ‘Big Cat’ badge and all the modern technology you’d expect from a premium compact executive saloon.
Since its launch in 2015, the looks have been sharpened up, though only the most dedicated car spotters will notice the different bumper shapes. The more important updates are on the inside, where you’ll find better trim materials and dashboard layout on later cars.
Post-2019 cars have more sophisticated infotainment systems and connectivity, an area where Jaguar had been lagging behind a little.
The ‘Big Cat’ badge and all the modern technology you’d expect from a premium compact executive saloon.
What’s it like to drive?
The XE is both a sensible modern four-door saloon and part of Jaguar’s long-standing sporting tradition. Drivers will enjoy the quality of a suspension system that offers precise and agile handling round corners, with sensitive steering and - most importantly - a ride comfort that soaks up the worst of our potholed roads. Four-wheel drive versions offer increased grip in all road conditions.
Whether you choose the responsive petrol or punchy yet economical diesel engines, all are brisk while the high-performance Project 8 model offers sensational performance. All XE models use an eight-speed automatic gearbox with smooth changes between gears. There’s no full manual option, but there are steering-wheel paddles for semi-manual operation.
As you get to know the car, you’ll find it has a bit of a split personality. Enjoy spirited drives on quiet open roads before switching to a smooth quiet motorway cruising style. All XE models let drivers tailor the sportiness of gear changes and steering to match their mood or the road conditions.
A ride comfort that soaks up the worst of our potholed roads.
There’s a classy feel to this Jaguar’s interior. It has materials that feel good to touch and a range of equipment that’s right for a sports saloon. You’ll find some rivals have more space for rear-seat passengers, though. The sporty sloping roofline means bigger adults in the back might mess up their hair on the roof. This design does allow for a larger boot.
Its multi-adjustable, sporty and supportive front seats are a joy. There’s an up-market ambience in the front of the Jaguar – think high-end cinema rather than mainstream multiplex. You seem to sit a little lower amid an enveloping design of sumptuous seats and a high-quality wrap-around dashboard.
The driver is faced with a neat, simple array of controls. There aren’t too many fiddly buttons. The dashboard displays become even more sophisticated and digital as you move up the model range. Post-2019 versions of the XE have slightly up-rated interiors, using a higher grade of materials and more advanced infotainment systems. Even the steering wheel feels nicer in the newer cars.
There’s a big difference between the lowest and highest of Jaguar’s trim levels. With an extensive options list you may find versions with many luxury extras like remote-controlled heating or a superb Meridian hi-fi system.
Even the earliest base models have a good level of features fitted as standard, including ambient lighting, an auto-dimming rear-mirror and a leather-trimmed steering wheel.
The boot manages to be both big and awkward thanks to its irregular shape. It’s fine for soft bags, though not so handy for boxes and suitcases. Importantly, not all XEs have folding back seats - a vital feature if you need to carry the odd larger load.
Running costs and reliability
For a premium automatic sporty saloon, the XE’s running costs are usually lower than average. Diesel models can return up to 51mpg on official figures, while petrol car owners are more likely to get miles per gallon in the mid-30s. As usual four-wheel drive models are thirstier and pricier to maintain.
Under Tata ownership, the Jaguar brand has vastly improved its safety and reliability reputation. The XE’s safety credentials are as good as any rival
What we love
What the industry calls the ‘compact executive class’ embraces all the classiest smaller saloons you can buy. Among these, Jaguar’s XE offers a refreshing change from the likes of the 3-Series and the C-Class. It looks imposing and impressive, has a high-quality feel inside and drives as well as any rivals. It’s a choice for both traditionalists and style-conscious, with a great balance between luxury, efficiency and enjoyment.
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Looking for a classic four-door saloon that has prestige, luxury and style? You’ll enjoy a premium driving and ownership experience with the Jaguar XE. It has a distinctive image, design and character with a range of engines and trims to satisfy most motoring needs.
This review was