Jaguar com­pact exec’s a win­ner

Wales On Sunday - - MOTORS WALES - PATRICK JAMES news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk

IN THE con­gested world of the com­pact ex­ec­u­tive car mar­ket, Jaguar has been a long time join­ing the party. Long dom­i­nated by Ger­man brands Audi, BMW and Mercedes with al­ter­na­tives like Volvo and Lexus, it is a key area for a firm that prides it­self on its lux­ury and sport­ing tra­di­tion.

The XE is as good as any­thing out there, of­fer­ing se­duc­tive styling, a range of new eco­nom­i­cal en­gines, pin sharp han­dling and the ku­dos of the Big Cat logo.

It looks racy, par­tic­u­larly in the op­tional Ital­ian Red liv­ery of this tested model, while the pre­dom­i­nantly alu­minium body re­duces weight to in­crease per­for­mance.

With an en­try price of well un­der £30,000, the five mod­els of­fer some­thing from the notso-ba­sic to real high-end lux­ury.

With it sleek, aero­dy­namic pro­file with sporty al­loys and cats-eye shaped light clus­ters and dis­tinc­tive J-Blade run­ning lights, it has a fe­line, sporty stance.

The hon­ey­comb grille and air scoops, plus other sub­tle trim ad­di­tions, plus the Big Cat logo round off the pack­age.

The in­te­rior is much the same, a classy, sim­ple to use lay­out that is dom­i­nated by an eight-inch cen­tral touch­screen which con­trols con­nec­tiv­ity, in­fo­tain­ment, nav­i­ga­tion and cli­mate. It also con­tains var­i­ous apps with Spo­tify stream­ing now avail­able, as is Ap­ple watch con­nec­tiv­ity.

The in­te­rior is a pleas­ant, if ever so slightly cramped place to be. The now fa­mil­iar ro­tary gear change is in ev­i­dence as is the puls­ing starter but­ton. The in­fo­tain­ment screen is sim­ple and in­tu­itive while other di­als, but­tons and stalks are log­i­cally place.

For the most part doors and dash are fin­ished with good soft touch ma­te­rial and alu­minium trim and in­serts. For those who it both­ers, there is some cheaper plas­tic trim as well, but it doesn’t de­tract from the classy in­te­rior look.

The elec­tri­cally op­er­ated leather seats are firm, but com­fort­able and multi ad­justable while the multi-func­tion steer­ing wheel is also leather trimmed.

The sleek styling means head­room is at a pre­mium and vis­i­bil­ity isn’t the great­est, and boot space isn’t great for the class but can be in­creased with the split/fold­ing rear seats backs.

Even the en­try model is packed with gear, in­clud­ing touch­screen with DAB ra­dio and Blue­tooth, air con, cruise con­trol, cli­mate con­trol, 17inch al­loys, rear park­ing sen­sors.

The R Sport tested here lives up to its name with a host of ex­tra equip­ment and the choice of nor­mal driv­ing through the eight-speed au­to­matic gear­box or switch­ing to sport and the pad­dles where ev­ery­thing stiff­ens up for a much more thrilling drive.

The car clings limpet-like to the road with the di­rect and re­spon­sive speed pro­por­tional steer­ing pro­vid­ing ex­cel­lent feed­back. It feels nim­ble and ag­ile, and han­dles like a dream.

Jag’s sport­ing pedi­gree is not let down by the XE. En­hanced in fact and the two-litre In­ge­nium diesel en­gine is both lively and fru­gal, while the ride and han­dling su­perb.

Usu­ally rear wheel drive, this model of­fered all wheel drive with torque vec­tor­ing for even more sta­bil­ity. This sys­tem al­lows power to be di­rected to any one wheel when wheel spin is de­tected.

The re­fined power unit pro­pels the car to 60mph in just over seven sec­onds and on to a top speed where per­mit­ted of 140mph, while de­liv­er­ing a claimed econ­omy of around 60mpg.

I have to say it didn’t seem that far off the mark after plenty of mixed driv­ing.

As you would ex­pect in the are sim­ply ex­ec­u­tive car class, wind, road and en­gine noise are vir­tu­ally ab­sent.

There’s a five-model range from SE, Pres­tige, the tested RS­port, Port­fo­lio and range-top­ping S.

The mid-range R-Sport adds good­ies like the body kit ad­di­tions, the leather seats, dim­ming mir­ror plus other bells and whis­tles, while safety kit in all mod­els is com­pre­hen­sive.

The XE is a world away from the ill-fated X-TYPE which was Jag’s last foray into the com­pact exec sec­tor.

It’s dif­fi­cult to think of any­thing which is bet­ter than the baby Jag.

The Jaguar XE of­fers se­duc­tive styling, a range of new eco­nom­i­cal en­gines and pin sharp han­dling

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