Best used compact executive cars
The Jaguar XE is the best used compact executive in our Used Car Awards 2020
Best used compact executive car: Jaguar XE
Our pick: Jaguar XE 2.0d 180 Prestige (2016/16, 29k miles, £12,847)
Once again, the Jaguar XE is our best used compact executive car, and with good reason. The BMW 3 Series rival is a brilliant all-rounder that offers pace, practicality and a plush interior. It’s also relatively inexpensive on the used market now; we found a mid-range 2.0-litre diesel model, with around 29,000 miles on the clock, priced at £12,847.
It’s based on an aluminium-intensive platform which features double-wishbone front suspension and a multi-link rear axle, so the XE dishes up agile and predictable handling. There’s slightly more body roll than you’ll get in a 3 Series or Alfa Romeo Giulia, but the Jaguar can smother bumps and potholes with far greater ease than these sporty rivals.
There’s a strong range of petrol and diesel engines with a choice of rear or four-wheel drive. We’d go rear-drive for better balance, and choose the 178bhp 2.0-litre diesel, because this provides more than enough performance, but also delivers affordable running costs for a premium model.
The XE’s steering is precise and there’s plenty of grip, so in the corners, it’s only slightly behind the 3 Series for driver involvement. In fact, the Jag offers a mix of precision and ride comfort that few rivals can match, so with prices lower than a new supermini for a well equipped Prestige model, what’s not to like?
The Jaguar’s cabin also has a certain X-factor that the usual German rivals fail to match. Sure, the rear seats are a little cramped, but the dashboard layout is simple and attractive, while even entry-level models are fitted with parking sensors, automatic lights and a touchscreen infotainment system, and most cars were specified with leather upholstery.
It’s Prestige by name, yet the XE’s monthly payments are anything but, at £251 on a three-year PCP finance deal with a £1,400 deposit for a typical model on BuyaCar.co.uk. The XE is also reasonably affordable for those looking to buy the car outright at the end of the contract, with an optional final payment of £6,125. Pay this and you don’t need to hand the car back – it’s all yours.
The third-generation IS forged its own path, with unique looks, a frugal hybrid powertrain and an unusually styled yet beautifully built interior. The approach seemed to work; owners put it well ahead of its compact executive saloon rivals in our 2020 Driver Power new car survey.
Alfa Romeo Giulia
This car proved that Alfa could go up against BMW. Like the Jaguar XE, the Giulia is a balanced driver’s car, but it has a quicker steering rack, a tauter chassis and a more eager range of engines. The trade-off is a slightly firm ride, but we’d accept this for the engaging handling