Jaguar’s new baby is big leap for­ward

Macclesfield Express - - SEARCH -

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

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