Jaguar XE review
The Jaguar XE is a small saloon that delivers a fine balance between performance, efficiency and luxury
Make a list of the pros and cons of the Jaguar XE and you'll find that it just about matches its rivals in every area – especially since its 2019 update. However, an objective assessment can’t get across just how good Jaguar’s junior executive saloon feels. It really is a brilliant all-rounder.
It looks great, is comfortable, fun to drive when the mood takes you and has a certain X-factor that the usual German rivals – BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 – fail to match. It's no wonder that we named it our Compact Executive Car of the Year for three years running in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
It’s not perfect – it can feel cramped in the back, for example – but overall the XE is a fine ownership prospect, with a range of good engines and a marked improvement in quality over its previous iteration.
The formula for the Jaguar XE is just right, and that means it's one of the best compact executive saloons for sale in the UK today. A comprehensive update for 2019 saw a useful jump forward in interior quality, on-board technology and a simplified engine and trim range – all of which have helped to keep the Jaguar competitive against its major rivals.
Car group tests
In this fiercely competitive class, the Jaguar XE takes on the German trio of the Audi A4, Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3 Series (the latter being our current Best Compact Executive at the 2019 New Car Awards), as well as some other alternative choices, including the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Lexus IS and Volvo S60.
The XE was an instant hit for Jaguar when it arrived in 2015, while an update in 2019 helped it to maintain its position near the front of the executive car field. While rivals offer estate, coupe and hatchback variants of their standard models, the XE comes in just one body style, a four-door saloon.
There are two basic models in the Jaguar XE range, S and R-Dynamic. However, there are specification packs available for both, with the former available as S, SE and HSE and the latter as R-Dynamic S, R-Dynamic SE and R-Dynamic HSE. There are three engines available – two petrols and one diesel. All are four-cylinder units; the D180 diesel is available either as a rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive car, while the P250 and P300 petrols are rear- and four-wheel-drive, respectively.
Whichever model you choose, the XE delivers an engaging driving experience. It's not quite on a par with a BMW 3 Series, but it's very close, with fast, sharp steering and an agile feel. In addition, the XE is pretty comfortable for cruising. The suspension is designed to work with larger wheels, so the ride isn't too choppy if you pick larger rims, however the models with smaller wheels are positively luxurious.
Prices for the XE start at just over £34,000, while the highest-spec cars break the £40k barrier. The current flagship, the P300 R-Dynamic HSE, weighs in at nearly £47,000 and is the fastest model in the line-up if you discount the Project 8. That model gets a supercharged V8 packing 592bhp, plus bespoke bodywork and carbon fibre additions to produce a track-focused special.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Jaguar XE is a small saloon that delivers a fine balance between performance, efficiency and luxury
- 2Engines, performance and driveGreat to drive and very comfortable; despite a narrow engine choice there should be something for everyone here
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsOverall the XE is a very cost-effective executive saloon to buy and run
- 4Interior, design and technologyWith smart looks inside and out, and one of the best multimedia systems out there – the XE is designed for the cutting edge driver
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceGreat ride quality is tempered by a cabin that lacks space compared to rivals, and the boot has a similar issue
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe Jaguar XE scores top marks for safety, but customer feedback suggests reliability could be an issue
- 7Long term reviewFinal report: we look back as the sun sets on our time with the Jaguar XE P300