The Germans have always come on top in the small sedan segment with the BMW 3-Series leading the race most often and now the British have a thing or two to say about that.
Jaguar have been doing an incredible and exciting job in the automotive industry for the past few years and now they want to have a word with the Germans about the small sedan car. Exciting.
Huge thanks to Jaguar & Weber Shandwick for this amazing weekend ride.
I’ve experienced Jaguar’s progress over the past few years driving their XFRS and F-Type recently and they always had a personality that was distinctively British, exciting and fun. When Jaguar announced the XE, I wondered how were they planning on taking on a segment that was incredibly competitive and one where Jaguar never seemed to crack.
Lets get the basics
The Jaguar XE comes in a variety of trim models starting from the XE SE all the way up to the XE S, which knowing Jaguar today, might not be the top of the range for too long. Jaguar, please fit this car with a V8.
The base XE model starts with a 2 litre engine with 200 horsepower, which is the most economical version available to our market. The tested model though, is the XE S with a 3 litre supercharged V6 engine with 340 horsepower. This engine is taken right of the F-Type and comes pre-installed with a ton of driver grins, smiles and emotions.
The beasty engine has 450nm of torque and 0-100 kmph time of 5.1 seconds and a top speed of 249 kmph, definitely more than sufficient for any type of city driving.
Power delivery of this 4 door family sedan comes through an 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox which is not only smooth but quite sporty. Steering-wheel mounted paddles are standard on the XE S, for when you want to have some fun.
The lightweight aluminium architecture keeps the weight low, although still quite around the range of its competitors.
A lot of effort has been put into the XE to create the best-in-class small sedan for everyday use, families and executives, while remaining sporty and fun to drive. It is quite a big challenge but I think Jaguar have done a great job.
The XE S on the outside
There is no doubt this is a great looking little sedan, but lets put it under the microscope.
I think they have done a great job on the front of the XE S as it has a very sporty stance, as though it is about the pounce – very cool
The car comes with LED daylight running lights, bi-xenon headlights, a large front grille and supports a series of S badges to show your friends, you went for the upgraded model, of course.
As with all Jaguars I have tested, they have front sensors, that never detect pavements which always leads to you scraping your front lip, Jaguar-style. I would rather have that than a higher lip, though.
It is all in the details, and Jaguar did a fantastic job. I don’t remember the last time I did not say “cool” when seeing branded HID lenses. This one even has dimensions, just like a camera.
I am yet to see a small sedan that comes with wheels this big, will you just look at them! Standard wheels on the XE S are a 20 inch 10 spoke propeller in silver/diamond giving a great silver and shadow effect.
Brakes are high performance Jaguar brakes with 350mm front discs and 325 rear discs providing sufficient braking power for the sporty sedan and there is even something called a brake scoop – A glass-filled polypropylene brake scoop channels air onto the brakes for enhanced brake performance during enthusiastic driving.
The rear is probably where I have the most criticism on the XE S. They have done a great job on the car with improved aerodynamics, chrome air vents, large wheels, and body kit, but once I take a look at the back, I have to ask, why did they stop?
There are distinctive Jaguar elements for sure like the F-Type inspired rear light lines, dual chrome exhaust, lifted rear spoiler integrated into the trunk and diffuser but I am sure this rear end could have stood out more.
Lets remind ourselves that this is a small family sedan and talk about the trunk space. Although the rear is quite short, the trunk has 455 litres of storage space.
If you’re thinking “short rear end” and “large boot space” should result in something, you’re right.
Rear seats are rather tight on the XE.
The XE on the inside
Let’s face it, the XE S is a beautiful car and the rear end can be something to get used to, but the fact remains this car has to remain favorable in a few years of owning it and you’ll probably spend most of those years on the inside.
This shouldn’t be an issue then, the interior oozes Jaguar and is every bit as Jaguar as ever.
The XE S has a lot from it’s bigger and skinnier brothers, including sporty steering wheel, S badges, soft leathers, piano black finished dash and a new info-tainment system that actually works quite smoothly.
The driver has the best spot of course with sporty seats – in dual-tone, plenty of on wheel controls and ergonomics to make the Germans raise an eyebrow.
There is a lot of detail, and everything looks and feels precise, of high quality and beautifully put together.
There is decent storage space in the cabin, well suited for a small family sedan.
The XE S comes with the updated info-tainment system which offers a real touch screen (I dislike touch screens where you have to actually press on the screen, this is 2015 after all) and an array of cool features such as; Automated parking, parking sensors, rear view camera, several apps, and customizable screens.
The standard is an 8 inch touch model with a possible upgraded unit called the touch pro which has a 10.2 inch screen and no buttons on either side.
Below that sits air conditioning controls and the start button, taken right off the F-Type.
Moving down to the gear lever, you’ll see that it is a circular set-up, just like on the XF, XJ and the new Range Rover. Driving modes can be selected below that and the XE offers quite a few: A Race mode, for maximum attack, regular road model, eco for maximum fuel economy and snow for.. well.. snow. Something you get a lot of in Dubai.
On either side of the driving mode selector sits the Auto on/off and traction control. Speaking of the auto engine on/off button, I disliked the one on the XE S as it is quite noticeable when the engine turns off and back on; there is a notable noise and a felt vibration. The whole appeal of having this in your car is not noticing it, in my opinion.
Below that sits the electronic brake and something called Jaguar ASPC, which is a new piece of technology. It essentially acts as a low speed (between 2mph – 19mph) cruise control where the driver can focus more on the steering wheel and the surroundings. This is mainly used for low traction situations.
Jaguar has basically taken the best elements and materials from its range and found the nicest combination for the XE S. Soft black leather with matching red stitching, red leather covered doors, Meridian sound system, multi-level trim, and comfortable seating make the XE a very nice every day sedan to drive and look at.
One thing worth mentioning is how the interior lighting of the XE is subtle yet beautiful. The lighting is not too strong, yet very visible. The line around the starter button and volume wheel resembles the rear lights. Very F-Type.
That isn’t the only thing taken from the F-Type on the interior, the dials too have been lifted from the F-Type.
You’re essentially getting the best elements from the Jaguar range in one small, compact, economical yet powerful small sedan. What’s not to like?
Oh, it has a heads-up display too, to keep your eyes on the road at all times.
This is what you will be doing in the XE S most of the time, so it better be good!
As an everyday car, in normal or eco modes, the car is comfortable, quiet and very subtle on the roads. The car sits 4 people quite comfortably with decent boot space while the driving dynamics make the XE a delight.
Turn the XE S into its rightful sport mode and that is where all the British engineering comes to light.
The lightweight Aluminium architecture keeps the car nimble and light on its feet, has 50:50 weight distribution and has very good steering feel. Torque vectoring helps keep you planted while cornering by applying brakes to the side wheels subtly given maximum cornering speeds and agility. Dynamic Stability Control ensures all wheels have traction and pointing you in the right direction.
In sport mode, the XE S does something magical, it feels quite a lot like the F-Type, and that is a big achievement.
Surely it isn’t as fast, nor does the exhaust burble screaming at people, but the car actually feels very familiar.
In a city like Dubai, where German cars are all around, Jaguar comes as a breath of fresh air. I truly believe that the XE S can take take on the 3 Series, C Class and A4 with subtle differences between them. Jaguar has created a serious contender in the segment and I cannot wait to see if they’ll drop a V8 in this!