Jaguar XE (2015) First Drive

Jaguar XE Exterior 2

We attended the launch of the all-new Jaguar XE which takes on the premium compact sedan segment currently dominated by the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. Is it worthy of your attention?

Jaguar hasn’t had a pure Merc C-Class or BMW 3 Series rival since the discontinuation of the much-lamented X-Type. The current XF straddles between 3 and 5 Series size-wise and is getting long in the tooth, but is due for replacement soon. That has all changed now with the introduction of the new Jaguar XE. It’s a pure D-Segment sedan that’s not German. Is it any good? We attended the launch in Cape Town and drove it around the Western Cape for a quick test.

All-New Jag

The Jaguar XE is an entirely new model from the ground up. The chassis has been specially developed for this car and will be used on other Jaguar models going forward. Specifically, Jaguar engineers worked on developing a ride that felt sporty and different to the raft of competitors in the segment.

The suspension, for example, was designed in-house and tailor-made for the XE where other manufacturers adapt the common Macpherson strut suspension. Other interesting bits include the diesel engine and manual gearbox. The XE debuts the brand's Ingenium engine line-up in South Africa and can be equipped with a manual gearbox – something we've never seen in a Jaguar before.

The Model Range

The Jaguar XE will be available in SA with three engines and a choice of styling packs. The styling packs include Pure, Prestige, Portfolio and R-Sport. The cost goes up a fair chunk as each pack offers its own standard equipment line as well. To start with, the XE 2.0 diesel engine mentioned above is rated at 132 kW and 430 Nm. For everyday use and fuel consumption weenies, this is the model to choose. The diesel pulls cleanly, has almost no turbo lag and has a sporty soundtrack inside the cabin. Claimed fuel consumption on this model is 4.9L/100km.

The first of the petrol models is the 2-Litre turbo petrol. This is the tried-and-tested engine that we’ve seen in other models like the Range Rover Evoque, Discovery Sport and the current XF. It has 177 kW and 340 Nm of torque. It’s quick and runs the XE from standstill to 100kph in 6.8 seconds. Fuel consumption is claimed at 7.5L/100km, but this engine does tend to use more than claimed from our experience.

Topping off the Jaguar XE engine lineup is the 3-Litre supercharged V6. It howls along at rocket speeds, with a fantastic exhaust note that kept everyone entertained over the course of the two days of driving. The supercharged model makes 250 kW and 450 Nm of torque, similar to something like a BMW 335i or an Audi S4.

Is it nice inside?

The Jaguar XE has a very comfortable interior. It feels like you’re in a cocoon with the dashboard that wraps around you, almost like sitting in a bathtub. There seems to be loads of leather colours to choose from depending on the kit you choose, but the red and black combination certainly made a statement. Space up front is excellent and Jaguar has updated its touchscreen to a more modern and responsive unit, similar to the one in the Discovery Sport. Rear legroom looks a little tight, but the boot measures in at a respectable 450-Litres.

Does it drive well?

It drives very well. The Jaguar XE impressed over the two day drive with its composure and comfortable ride. The suspension seems set up just perfectly to ride bumps without feeling wallowy but not too sporty that it feels bouncy behind the wheel. It’s dynamic in the bends too with one of the best steering systems I’ve driven in recent years. Feel and feedback are excellent as is the weighting when you begin to add in steering lock.

Jaguar XE Pricing

It’s fair to say that the XE is expensive when compared to its rivals. Currently Jaguar SA is being hammered by a R20 to 1 British Pound exchange rate. It does however feels like a very strong competitor and it won't be one-way traffic in a direct comparison with equivalent BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz products.
Jaguar XE 2.0D Pure R 534 800
Jaguar XE 2.0D Prestige R 590 400
Jaguar XE 2.0D R-Sport R 614 000
Jaguar XE 2.0D Portfolio R 654 600
Jaguar XE 2.0 i4 Prestige R 638 900
Jaguar XE 2.0 i4 R-Sport R 662 600
Jaguar XE 2.0 i4 Portfolio R 703 200
Jaguar XE 3.0 Supercharged S R 908 100