The second bit
Over the years I’ve realized that motoring reviews serve just two purposes. The first and most obvious is to test (but often regurgitate) specifications and other quantifiable attributes of cars which everyone could call up on their smartphone in under a minute. The second bit is more important.
This is where we get to express our opinion – hopefully in an entertaining manner – about life with the new set of wheels. Most of this is based on experience with other cars and I maintain that it’s vital to report on things you’d never find by studying specifications or reading flowery marketing speak.
If I may be so bold, this review of the new Jaguar XE we tested recently will be devoid of specifications you could find on Jaguar’s website. I also won’t bother with all the available models (there are plenty) or the prices, as they’re currently being pounded by our exchange rate and will be out of date by next Tuesday.
Starting with the car’s looks, Jaguar is copying Land-Rover, Audi or Aston by making all their cars look almost identical. You won’t find that written on their website but, bar the XE’s stubby rear end, it’s absolutely true. This is a good thing for XE owners as the neighbours will think you bought an XF or XJ. That was rear-ended.
There’s great detailing in the headlights with their telephoto-like lenses while our test car’s R-Sport trim added a degree of machismo to an otherwise graceful form. Usually big wheels and low stances like these spell back-breaking discomfort but, in true Jaguar fashion, the XE rides smoothly and handles well.
Another hallmark is this Jaguar’s sculpted interior with a high shoulder line and swooping curve around the cabin. We found excellent materials and craftsmanship, fine leather with white stitching, cool F-Type dials and front door cards with multiple layers in which the door handle isn’t where you’d expect it.
The updated touch-screen infotainment system, animated gear selector and start button, trip computer, Meridian sound system, trusty control stalks and new multi-function steering wheel are standard Jaguar / Land-Rover stuff that make for a modern and uncluttered layout. We only wish that the volume knob was lit at night.
Space inside this 3-Series / A4 / C-Class rival is on par, trading an inch here or there for more comfort and a cocooned experience. Tall drivers noted only sufficient front head room with similar results in the second row where recesses in the rear bench will provide just enough room for two adults.
Driving the XE isn’t much different from its chief opponents with comparable power outputs. The car felt nimble and agile but that aforementioned comfort may sway buyers towards the leaping cat. We didn’t like the jerky gearbox on cold starts, nor did we enjoy its harsh start/stop system. Very un-Jaguar-like.
At least it can be de-activated and you may also choose the oh-so-important drive response modes. Normal, Winter, Tree-hugger and Boy Racer change the car’s character and instrument colours to set the mood. As with most of these new systems, we played with them for two days and then left everything in Normal.
Give it a bit of welly and, thanks to more gears than seems necessary, the XE does become a leapy cat albeit with the odd thinking pause. Our performance testing confirmed most of Jaguar’s claims including superb brakes and commendable grip. There was a slight nervousness on the limit which may please sporting drivers.
As with most new cars, our average fuel consumption settled about 25% above claimed figures but 100% into the power delivery and enjoyment ratio. Our turbo-petrol test mule is a good mid-point between the more frugal and lethargic turbo-diesel or the hairy-chested, supercharged petrol V6 variant.
My apologies if this review seems too vague or light on specs. I honestly think that the buyers of an XE aren’t interested in numbers and prefer sensations or driving emotions. This baby Jag is too expensive to rival the Germans but that also gives it an exclusivity which should also appeal to current and aspiring fans of the brand.
0-10km/h: 0,57 seconds
0-20km/h: 1,12 seconds
0-30km/h: 1,62 seconds
0-40km/h: 2,15 seconds
0-50km/h: 2,79 seconds
0-60km/h: 3,46 seconds
0-70km/h: 4,18 seconds
0-80km/h: 5,09 seconds
0-90km/h: 5,90 seconds
0-100km/h: 6,87 seconds
0-110km/h: 8,03 seconds
0-120km/h: 9,25 seconds
0-130km/h: 10,60 seconds
0-140km/h: 12,23 seconds
0-100m: 6,62 seconds @ 97,60km/h
0-200m: 9,85 seconds @ 124,50km/h
0-300m: 12,54 seconds @ 141,93km/h
0-400m: 14,95 seconds @ 155,92km/h
Maximum acceleration G-force: 0.59G
All data captured by Racelogic® Performance Box