Jaguar EX 2.0 Diesel Portfolio
Handsome looks are a big part of the XE's appeal
- Handsome exterior design when in the right specification
- Ride and handling are first rate
- Impressive efficiency from Ingenium diesel engines
- Good standard specification
- Not as distinct from bigger XF as it could have been
- Cabin works well but is colour sensitive
- Rear seat room is average
- Manual gearchange is a little vague
Arguably Jaguar's most important car for over a decade, the XE represents the new entry point into the brand and also the car that aims to significantly increase its volumes in both the private and fleet sectors. It also has to expunge memories of the X-Type and draw new customers to the Jaguar experience as well operating in a very competitive sector of the market.
Jaguar has its roots in sporting saloons but it has managed without a direct rival to the likes of the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class for almost a decade. It's one of the most popular segments for premium brands and so the XE has the job of re-establishing Jaguar as a key competitor in the segment.
The XE has a new structure and bodyshell, using aluminium and high-strength, lightweight materials for the first time in a Jaguar of this size. Jaguar claims weight savings compared to key rivals without compromising rigidity. The XE also uses suspension derived from the F-Type to give superior responses and also save weight. It also uses the first electronic power steering system to come from the manufacturer.
Beneath the bonnet the XE is powered by a choice of engines including two brand new Ingenium units designed by the company. Available in two outputs, the new engines are aluminium for light weight and designed for maximum efficiency, giving the XE very competitive economy and emissions performance. Turbocharged and supercharged petrol versions are also available.
As well as an impressive mechanical specification the XE introduces a suite of new technologies to improve the vehicle's performance and driver comfort. A new touchscreen system is available, while two-wheel-drive models can be specified with All Surface Progress Control, an advanced traction system designed to work in difficult conditions such as ice or snow.
Our verdict on the Jaguar EX 2.0 Diesel Portfolio
It's one of the most competitive segments in the motoring world but the Jaguar XE is truly a revelation. Its design is striking, the driving experience is second to none and it makes a convincing case from a financial point of view too. The few minor niggles are the sometimes plain interior and tight rear room, but it is convincingly the best car in the class.
In diesel form the XE should provide impressively low running costs, with at present the best emissions and economy performance in the class. Insurance costs are likely to be on a par with the rest of the class and Jaguar is promising impressive residual values and reduced cost warranty packages.
Space and practicality
The XE is a compact saloon and so space is good if not exceptional for the class. Up front the low-set dashboard helps to improve the sense of space and leg, head and elbow room are of a good standard. In the rear it's a little tighter for space although still suitable for adults, but is best enjoyed by two rather than three. Boot space is good for the class too and the area is well-shaped.
Controls and display
The XE's layout is simplicity itself, with an uncluttered dashboard dominated by the large toughscreen set up. It works well and is intuitive, backed up by clearly marked steering wheel controls - although the number of them means a little familiarisation may be required. The instruments and markings are clear, with the option of a head-up display for even greater clarity.
Despite the sporting bent the XE is comfortable too. The excellent standard of the suspension tuning means it absorbs bumps well for a car with such handling ability, and while it is not the softest-riding saloon it leaves cabin occupants undisturbed in normal driving. The seats are also comfortable and supportive, while the all-round refinement helps to ease stress on passengers.
All XE models are fitted with an alarm, immobiliser and remote central locking as standard, while features such as a tracking system are also on the options list.
The XE's strong structure contributes to a high level of passive safety, while a comprehensive array of active safety systems will help to avoid the worst happening in the first place. Autonomous Emergency Braking is standard while the XE is the first car in the class to feature a deployable bonnet to mitigate pedestrian injury in the event of a collision.
Jaguar makes bullish claims about the quality of the XE's driving experience, but remarkably it lives up to the promise. In normal driving conditions the smoothness and low noise of the diesel engine is impressive, while the ride is well controlled and undisturbed by most road imperfections. Conversely when driven at speed it responds with excellent precision, control and balance, and can be enjoyed like a true sports car.
Family car appeal
A modestly-sized family could make good use of the XE as a regular car, and the rear seats can comfortably take two child or booster seats. Versions equipped with leather seats will be best placed to stand up to the rigours of carrying children, and the saloon configuration means getting them loaded into the rear is straightforward.
First car appeal
Although it is the least expensive Jaguar in the current line up it is still likely to be a step too far for most new drivers in terms of purchase price. It may also cost too much to insure for a new driver, although it is quite undemanding to drive.
Quality and image
The XE is undoubtedly a quality product, with a robust feel to the cabin and generally speaking good quality materials. There are some elements of cheaper materials being used but they are quite well hidden and fail to spoil the good impression. The Jaguar brand is also in a strong place at present and the XE has the right kind of sporting credentials to appeal to buyers.
Getting into the front seats is the work of a moment, with a decent aperture and a seating position that makes climbing aboard easy. Getting into the rear is also straightforward, although the footwell space is understandably less compared to the front seats and so requires a little more care. Access to the boot is easy with the option of an electric tailgate.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
There are a variety of options for the XE's entertainment system with varying levels of sophistication but all models get a new touchscreen with pinch and swipe operation and satellite navigation as standard, complete with updated graphics. All models also come with USB and auxiliary inputs plus DAB radio.
Colours and trim
The XE's handsome exterior works well in a variety of colours. More subtle shades hide some of the feature lines while the bolder options have the opposite effect. On the inside over and above the standard greys and blacks the XE is available in contrasting shades, although some are more tasteful than others.
With light steering at lows speeds and good all round visibility, parking the XE is a straightforward process. Parking sensors are standard and there are optional automated parking systems including traffic detection to make life even easier.
Emergency tyre repair kit supplied as standard, space saver spare optional.
Petrol engine options - 2.0-litre (198bhp); 3.0-litre (335bhp). Diesel engine options - 2.0-litre (161bhp, 178bhp). Transmission options: Six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox depending on model. Trim levels: SE, Prestige, R-Sport, Portfolio, S.
BMW 3 Series The class benchmark combines efficiency with excellent driving dynamics
Audi A4 High quality offering with broad engine range and smart looks
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Greater focus on comfort over sportiness but well-finished cabin
Lexus IS Japanese offering brings smart exterior and high quality cabin