Jaguar is probably the most important English automaker. The company’s well-known racing pedigree speaks for itself. Jaguar pioneered the use of lightweight body structures and alloy wheels, the first car ever equipped with disc brakes was the C-Type back in 1953. However, under the nine-year Ford ownership the brand used to make dull and out-dated cars, without making any profit.
In 2008 TATA bought Jaguar — and Land Rover — from Ford, and by putting a lot of efforts and tons of money in the renaissance process, it brought the feline back to its former glory. The first car launched under TATA’s ownership was the XJ, then the jaw-dropping F-Type followed, today the range of vehicles includes the XE, XF and newly-revealed F-Pace SUV.
International Motors – JLR kindly lent me the compact executive XE for a couple of days. The car is painted in “Italian Racing Red”, has diamond cut wheels and LED lights. The sporty body kit gives a distinctive look to it.
The seats are upholstered in leather and red-tinted microfiber, the centre console has a piano black finish with contrasting brushed aluminium elements. It hosts the rotary wheel that pops up when firing the car up allowing the driver to select gears, which in my opinion looks super cool.
The three-spoke steering wheel with paddles is beautifully wrapped in leather and it has the R-Sport logo engraved at the bottom. The materials look and feel premium aside from some out of sight —luckily — hard plastics. The cabin is comfortable, with most of the tech gadgets you’d expect and very quiet.
There are four 2.0-litre engine options to choose from: the 20d diesel 180 horsepower/430 Nm, E-Performance diesel 163 hp/380 Nm, 20t petrol 200 hp/320 Nm, and 25t petrol 240 hp/34 0Nm. It’s also possible to choose the mighty 3.0-litre V-6 with 340 hp/450 Nm from the F-Type.
I had the four-cylinder 20d mated with the excellent eight-speed ZF gearbox driving the rear wheels. While 180 hp might not sound a lot by today standards, the car never felt underpowered. The engine is truly awesome. It offers really good performances while barely burning any fuel.
The car has four different driving modes: Normal, Sport, ECO and Rain/Snow. Normal and ECO are perfect for driving on motorways or in the city traffic. The car moves effortlessly and the smooth gearbox makes an awesome job keeping the engine revs as low as possible, allowing better acoustic comfort and fuel consumption. When coming to a standstill the start/stop turns the engine off, saving every drop of fuel.
Thanks to the weather being on my side I never tried Rain/Snow mode, but I did try the sportier setting on some amazing mountain passes.
The instrument cluster’s backlight has a white tint, but when Sport mode is engaged, it turns blood red; the throttle becomes more responsive and the gear changes are blisteringly quick, the whole car feels more direct and alive. The brakes keep up really well even when breaking hard through the hairpins; body roll is almost absent. The XE handles so well because is the first car in its segment to feature an aluminium monocoque, which keeps the weight down without compromising rigidity.
Any complaints? Rear visibility could be better but in a world of parking cameras and sensors, it isn’t much of an issue to me.
Would I buy one over a BMW 3-Series, a Mercedes C-Class or an Audi A4?! I definitely would!
- Pros – Look, Fuel efficiency, Comfort, Infotainment
- Cons – Rear visibility, Some optionals are expensive