Jaguar’s new baby is big leap forward
THERE are some cars I get the chance to test out that are awaited with great anticipation - like this week’s motor the new baby Jaguar, the XE.
I have been a fan of Jags large and small for years and have even owned a couple of X-Types in the past decade - a surefooted, fast and not very frugal 3.0-litre petrol 4x4 and then one of the very last of the breed - a 2.2 special edition sport diesel.
Both had the DNA of Jags from the past and were good cars in different ways – the 3.0-litre for its raw power and 4x4 handling and the diesel for its fuel consumption and effortless motorway cruising. Both were proper Jags – despite naysayers constantly repeating the mantra ‘it’s a Mondeo underneath’... which I have no problem with as the Mondeo is a very capable and reliable vehicle.
So the XE, the longawaited spiritual successor to the bestselling X-Type which ceased production in 2009, was much looked forward too by yours truly.
When it duly arrived the signs were good – a subtly low-slung, scaled-down XF sports saloon – and the nice people at Jaguar Land Rover had even sent the very latest R-Sport version with the new-for-2016 2.0-litre diesel engine.
But then I got inside and it was a big surprise… it just did not feel like a Jag, more like an Audi or Lexus. Sure there were big Jaguar badges and that trademark bulging bonnet to look out over, but I did not immediately feel as at home as I was expecting.
However, after a short time behind the wheel I began to get it. Jaguar really have moved on from the wood and leather era. This is the Jag for today, with a 0-60 time of just under eight seconds, fuel consumption of up to 75mpg overall (83 on a run) and sub-100 CO2 figures - it feels more like a sports car than a saloon with a low-slung but perfect driving position.
The 2.0-litre i4 turbo diesel engine is the slowest in the range but still puts out 161bhp to the rear wheels (there is also a slightly faster 178bhp version with optional AWD) and can push the compact executive motor up to an Autoban-friendly 132mph.
It’s now all about technology delivering the Jaguar experience – the driving pleasure and status of the past being brought bang up to date, The ride, handling and performance are all up their with main compact executive saloon rivals.
Our car was a six-speed manual with 6th being a motorway only cog – but I have always thought Jags should be autos. The XE has four driving modes - Dynamic, Normal, Eco and Winter - all fairly self explanatory, although the last one is interesting as the car adapts to conditions changing traction control, dampers, steering and throttle response to give maximum grip.
There is an all-new platform with lots of aluminium used in the bodywork (75 per cent) and our most economical-in-the-range 2.0-litre diesel has the latest generation of ‘Ingenium’ engine. If you want a real roadburner there is a 335 bhp V6 supercharged petrol unit (as well as a 197bhp 2.0 petrol) and if shifting gears is a problem an eight-speed auto can be specified.
Inside the uncluttered, sporty cockpit is dominated by a standard 8” touch-screen - which controls infotainment and car functions including the excellent heated and cooled front seats on our test version (an £800 extra) and a less useful heated steering wheel (£185).
And JLR have clearly got it right as the XE has just won Business Car of the Year at the 2016 BusinessCar Awards as well as being named Premium Upper Middle Car of the Year.
BusinessCar Editor Paul Barker said: “Jaguar’s return to the compact executive market has been a glorious one, with the company managing to be as successful with the sensible elements like residual value, running costs and emissions as it has been with the looks and handling of the new XE. The corporate sector is crucial to Jaguar’s ambitions for its new saloon, and the readers of BusinessCar have given the model a ringing endorsement.”
And speaking of ringing endorsements, the XE has only been on sale for a little over a year so there are not many yet on our roads, especially R-Sport versions, so the car drew quite a bit of attention and while sitting in a Bolton traffic lights queue I got the white van man thumbs up... praise indeed.
The XE is clearly a great car, it will have to be as Jaguar have a lot riding on it. Are there any negatives? Well the ‘Ingenium’ engine is a little noisy at tickover and the cruise control is not adaptive… and perhaps I am still a little stuck in the past, hankering for the 1960s and 70s Jags which blew me away as a boy.
Prices are from £29,775 on the road for the petrol manual entry level model up to £44,995 for the V6 petrol supercharged. Our test R-Sport 2.0i4 is £32,325 on the road, but a number of options on our car - including an amazing to watch electrically-deployable tow hitch at £1,446, those heated and cooled seats, parking assist (£1,000), heads-up display (£1,000) and a ‘power convenience pack’ - took the final on the road total to £41,511.
More at jaguar.co.uk.
●● The 2016 Jaguar XE R-Sport