JAGUAR XE: BRILLIANT BRITISH SPORTS SEDAN

Jaguar_XE_frontThe British upmarket marque has always been known for sports models, be it the iconic E-Type, or the many low slung sporty saloons it has developed over the years Jaguars have been admired by those looking for more soul than its German competitors that tend to be efficient more than fun. The F-Type is certainly a strong starting point for the XE.

The all-new Jaguar XE is pure sports sedan, with a range of supercharged engines powering dynamic chassis and a fair dose of the traditional British interiors.

STYLING
When we drove the Jaguar XE at its media launch in north Queensland last year it grabbed a lot of attention, with holiday makers grabbing photos. Nothing changed last week when we took ‘our’ Jaguar (wish it was!) for runs in our home area of the Gold Coast and the inland scenic hills.

Jaguar XE’s large ‘mouth’ grille, sculpted headlights and extravagantly long bonnet lead back to a coupe-like roofline then slopes stylishly down to a short bootlid with rear spoiler.

The XE’s not just an excellent visual exercise, the aerodynamic guys and gals have achieved a drag coefficient of just 0.26 to let it slip through the air with a minimum of fuss.

Inside the midsize Jag is elegant, with a very usable binnacle, a central infotainment screen and subtle ventilation outlets. We particularly like the raised area that runs all they way across the lower area of the windscreen and looks for all the world like an extension of the speakers.

Jaguar_XE_rear

INFOTAINMENT
Buyers can choose between the InControl Touch system with 8.0-inch touchscreen, and the next-generation InControl Touch Pro system. The latter has a tablet-style 10.2-inch touchscreen and uses a quad-core processor and a high-speed 60GB solid-state drive (SSD). The home screen can be customised and widgets added to provide shortcuts to specific features.

Interestingly, InControl Touch Pro has a dead-reckoning function that steps in if the GPS signal is lost. By analysing data from the vehicle’s sensors, it can predict the vehicle’s location and heading.

InControl Touch Pro offers a choice of two digital systems developed by the British firm Meridian. The first is a 380-Watt system with 11 speakers (including a subwoofer). Or a surround sound system that delivers 825 Watts through no fewer than 17 speakers).

There are smart functions such as ‘Play more like this’ which automatically compiles playlists, or Music Queue, to search for and add songs, albums or artists to a music queue while the current track is still playing.

Jaguar_XE_interior

SAFETY
The Jaguar XE gained the maximum five star rating in Euro NCAP’s 2015 safety tests.

Even more importantly, active safety systems do what they can to avoid a crash. These include Autonomous Emergency Braking that uses a forward-facing stereo camera to detect vehicles which could pose a threat of collision. It gives the driver visual and audible warnings and automatically applies the brakes if a collision is imminent.

There is also Dynamic Stability Control, Traction Control, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring, Closing Vehicle Sensing and Reverse Traffic Detection.

ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Jaguar was kind enough to lend us one with a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol with 250 kW and 450 Newton metres for our week’s road test. This rip snorting engine sees the Jaguar XE S V6 getting to 100 km/h in just 5.1 seconds after takeoff.

Most Jaguar XEs sold in Australia are likely to be powered by a four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbo-petrol unit that is offered in two different stages of tune; producing 147 kW of power and 280 Nm of torque, or 170 kW / 340 Nm these have plenty of performance.

An efficient turbo-diesel engine, again a four-cylinder 2.0-litre, it gives you 132 kilowatts, and 450 Nm of torque from 1750 to 2500 revs.

All Jaguar XE models imported to Australia drive the rear wheels through a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed manual is sold in some markets, but the importer says none will be brought downunder, not even on special order.

DRIVING
The front seats are nicely shaped and offer support without being overly aggressive. But rear headroom is marginal for anyone over about 175 cm, a drawback of the coupe-like shape. Legroom will be limited if you’re sitting behind a tall driver who needs their seat well back. Compromises between those in the front and back seats are necessary.

The V6 engine is a delight to sit behind. Being supercharged it doesn’t have the irritating lag that puts us off turbocharged engines. Push that pedal on the right and the Jag gives you instant action. Love it.

While the Jaguar XE S sounds pretty good when hammered hard we feel that additional volume would be appreciated by many buyers of this model.

About three quarters of the XE’s body is made from aluminium, with the doors built from high-strength steel. There’s a strong emphasis on body rigidity to give the suspension a very stable platform on which to work. Thus letting it dampen road shocks to let the small Jag grip hard in corners without sacrificing ride comfort. This comfort is impressive for a sports sedan.

The Jaguar XE’s cornering ability is brilliant, with electric power steering that’s arguably the best, most intuitive we have ever felt. Road grip is high and the sporting sedan is happy to change direction mid corner if required.

However, the thick windscreen pillars blocks vision at times and you really do need to be prepared to move your head to keep track of what’s happening out there.

SUMMING UP
Superb styling, sporting chassis dynamics and that oh-so-Jaguar feel means the XE is already stealing sales from the big three German marques, as well as Japanese Lexus. We can see that situation becoming even more noticable after people take the upmarket Brit for a test drive.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL RANGE
20t Prestige: $60,400 (automatic)
20d Prestige: $62,800 (automatic)
25t Prestige: $64,900 (automatic)
20t R-Sport: $64,400 (automatic)
20d R-Sport: $66,800 (automatic)
25t R-Sport: $68,900 (automatic)
25t Portfolio: $70,400 (automatic)
S 3.0-litre V6: $104,200 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Jaguar dealer for driveaway prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Jaguar XE 3.0-litre supercharged four-door sedan)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 2.995 litres
Configuration: V6
Maximum Power: 250 kW @ 6500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 450 Nm @ 4550 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 98ROM
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.1 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 194 g/km

DRIVELINE:
Eight-speed automatic

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4672 mm
Wheelbase: 2835 mm
Width: 2075 mm
Height: 1416 mm
Turning Circle: Not supplied
Kerb Mass: 1665 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 63 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Three years / unlimited km

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