Remember the Jaguar X-type? Well Jaguar hopes that you don't either and focus on the XE instead. It really is a breathe of fresh air in a segment dominated by Audi, BMW and Mercedes. But is it worth the consideration?
There's one diesel and three petrol engines available on the XE. The 2-liter turbo diesel engine offers decent flexibility and can be had with or without all-wheel-drive. This engine is our pick of the range because it offers decent running costs and also those who worry about all-wheel-drive can still have it with this engine choice. The only other engine you can have with all-wheel-drive is the 3-liter supercharged six-cylinder at the higher end of the range. If you don't mind paying the premium and the slight spike in running costs, it is a good engine as well. The 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder offered is pleasant as well but the 3-liter supercharged six-cylinder (listed above) is the sweet spot in the petrol range.
If you think that the XE isn't as fun to drive as the benchmark 3-series then you seriously haven't test driven an XE. The fact that the XE offers sharp steering and road holding manners similar to that of the 3-series means that Jaguar is on the right path with this vehicle. It seriously won't disappoint at all. Our tester car came equipped with R-Sport package which had 18-inch alloys and a Adaptive Dynamic Package which gave the XE a premium ride even though it costs nearly the same as BMW's Adaptive M Suspension and doesn't even come with the same adjustments that the BMW 3-series offers.
Here is where things began to go downhill for the Jaguar XE. The infotainment system which in our tester car suffered from many glitches. The Bluetooth and hands free calling system just completely failed as well as the navigation system which showed error message and took almost fifteen minutes to reboot. However, when the system was working many of the controls and menus were fiddly to use at best. We had high hopes of Jaguar/Land Rover fixing these electrical issues as we've experienced the same issue with vehicles we've previously tested from them. The auto-high beam headlights seemed to be the only feature that worked decently. The interior build quality is also iffy as well, with many plastic bits that make the XE feel way below par compared to the 3-series.
We understand that Jaguar is bouncing back and are on fire with their latest new products but we feel that they still have a long way to go before they will be considered superior to Audi and Mercedes, we feel that even Volvo has snatched some of that lime light from Jaguar with the S90/V90 and XC90.
Speaking of the interior, the cabin feels narrow and the front seats don't really offer the support that we were expecting. The rear seat offers okay legroom while headroom is somewhat tight. The boot offers decent space as well.
Standard XE trim comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, HD Radio and fully electric glass moonroof. XE Premium adds auto-dimming and power-folding exterior mirrors, 380watt Meridian sound system and a rear-view parking camera. XE Prestige offers keyless entry, navigation (SD Card) and interior mood lightning. R-Sport trim adds integrated body-kit, Xenon headlamps, lane keep assist and autonomous emergency braking.
The Jaguar XE is a great alternate to the Audi, BMW and Mercedes. But we have been let down by the electrical issues and of course the XE looks rather plain compared to the Mercedes C-class. Plus the long term quality issues really do cause a bit of concern.
Likes: It drives way better than a 3-series. The range of engines offered are all great, plus its the cheapest Jaguar of the range.
Dislikes: Quality issues during review. Interior is plain and some materials are questionable in quality. Halogen headlights are weak and shouldn't even be standard on three of four trims.
Overall: We enjoyed our time with the Jaguar XE. It was very engaging to drive and the engines all offer great flexibility. However, the electrical issues with the infotainment system were annoying and the fact that three of four trims for the XE come with halogen headlights instead of HID headlights seems very strange to us (yes we complained about this on Audi, BMW and Mercedes). You can find so many other options that are just as good but none of them feel as composed as the XE and that's where the charm lies. It's one of those vehicles you buy because everything else sucks but when you drive it. You'll instantly forget all about them.