Right on the money
Jaguar’s XE 25t R-Sport targets the small prestige heavyweights: BMW 3 Series, Benz C-Class and Audi A4. Jaguar benchmarked the Germans and matches or eclipses them on many fronts, not least style. The XE looks impressive, like a scaled-down XF. Built to a high standard, it uses premium materials throughout. Amid the luxury, there are generous driver assistance features. It’s priced in the sweet zone and is covered by a three-year/unlimited km warranty, costs $1350 to service over three years with intervals of 12 months/16,000km. Rear seat head and legroom are compromised by the coupe roofline but the XE is well endowed in the ride and handling department. Jaguar’s multi-mode drive program has settings from comfort up to dynamic. The R-Sport isn’t as plush as others but compensates with behind-thewheel feel. Ample features include sports seats, 10.2-inch InControl touchscreen with voice control, power front seats, 380W Meridian audio and metal/leather dash fascia to set off the strikingly styled interior. As with all XEs, the ambience is hush-hush. It adds to the five-star ANCAP rating with such advanced safety kit as autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitor and lane keeping. The XE’s “hybrid” body combines steel and aluminium for superior strength and safety and weight saving. Responsive dynamics will help avoid a collision in the first place. This is the second sportiest XE — the real hot rod is the supercharged 3.0-litre V6. The high-output 2.0-litre clocks 6.8 seconds for the 0-100kmh sprint, thanks in part to the slick shifting (with paddles) eightspeed auto driving the rear wheels. It has a planted feel on the road with quick steering and a neutral attitude through fast corners. Grip is good and the large brakes have plenty of bite when arresting the wieldy 1530kg. It’s a luxury family fourdoor but it’s not averse to some spirited touring. BMW 320i $61,900, MercedesBenz C250 $69,400, Audi A4 2.0 quattro Sport $69,900, Lexus IS200t F-Sport $65,215 The Germans had better look out. The XE 25t R-Sport is right on the money: well equipped, safe and hugely appealing. Buyers should take off the blinkers and think Jaguar again.