8 August 2015
Review: Jaguar XE
It is, too, the first car to use the new Ingenium engines developed completely in-house by Jaguar Land Rover. So it is in every way special. JLR finally have a credible competitor to BMW's 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz's C-Class, in the most important premium segment.
In line with the style of the larger XF that changed the world view of the brand in 2007, the chrome-surrounded mesh grille is now a familiar, with the central Jaguar 'face' badge.
Accommodation is plush, comfortable. You won't carry 6'2" rear passengers, though, as the headroom there just isn't enough. There's very decent boot space, very nicely finished.
The ride in normal mode makes easy meat of long highway distances, and also handles twisting secondaries in decent comfort. Switching to sport mode tightens things up. There are lots of underpinning electronic and suspension safety technology to keep things in complete control.
But I have to wonder why the car didn't quite engage me as I expected? The XE's compact size and place in the scheme of things, its Jaguar heritage, and its designers' abilities should make it wonderful. It is, in many ways, very very good. In its unashamedly premium feel. In state of the art technologies that keep you safer, add comforts and connections. In the sporty cachet of the Jaguar name. In its probable ability to get traction in the BMW-dominated segment where it competes.
But matched against my father's Jaguar 240 of many decades ago, it somehow doesn't seem to do the business. That 240 had its problems, mostly about starting on a damp morning. Heavy steering and clutch, and a gearshift that required decisive heft. But the occasions when I sat into the red Ambla leathercloth seat, turned the key in the walnut dashboard, and headed off somewhere for the day were very special.
Today's XE is much more advanced in every way. Will never need to be pushed down a hill to start. But I don't think it would make such excursions so special. Maybe I need to try the base version, manual transmission, no extras. See if there's anything of that indefinable character that made Jaguars different then. Ah well, nostalgia is probably not a great judge ...
The starter price of the XE is €37,995. The review car starts out at €46,150. With all the extras, it comes out of the showroom at €57,000 less some change.