JAGUAR XE300 S

JAGUAR XE S

Driven - - CONTENTS - Re­port by BERNIE HELLBERG | Im­ages © DEON VAN DER WALT (TCB ME­DIA)

Best-of-both-worlds kind of Jag

JAGUAR HAS AL­WAYS HAD A KNACK FOR SET­TING UP THEIR HIGH­PER­FOR­MANCE CATS WITH MORE POWER THAN ONE COULD EVER NEED. BUT THERE’S A GOOD REA­SON FOR THAT, THEY SAY, EVEN IF THAT REA­SON IS TO RE­MIND THE PLETHORA OF TUR­BOCHARGED MERCS, AUDIS AND BEEMERS DRIV­ING AROUND, THAT LIFE IS AL­WAYS MORE FUN WITH A SU­PER­CHARGED V6 PETROL UN­DER THE BON­NET.

Jaguar has never made cars for con­form­ists, and in that spirit, be­hold the new XE S, Coventry’s an­swer to the com­pact sedans of the S, M, and AMG va­ri­ety. Rid­ing the same thrilling pow­er­train as its sporty F-Type cousin, of­fer­ing sporty driv­ers a power peak of 280 kW at 6,5000 r/min from its V6 petrol en­gine, and putting a lit­tle more pur­pose into your morn­ing com­mute.

BLUR­RING SpORTY LINES

The XE S is not a new car, but is rather a new model ad­di­tion to the ex­ist­ing XE range that now com­prises 11 mod­els. It is the only su­per­charged vari­ant, though, and re­minds you of its distinc­tive her­itage with strik­ing ac­cents through­out the cabin.

Be­ing so acutely fo­cused on the driver, and to a de­gree also the front pas­sen­ger, the XE S is tight in the rear, leav­ing pas­sen­gers sit­ting in the back with com­pro­mised le­groom, es­pe­cially when the driver is 1.85 me­ters tall.

Not that this is­sue is unique to the XE; sedans across the C seg­ment suf­fer the same fate to a de­gree. Not that it mat­ters, as the big­gest mo­ti­va­tor for buy­ing a Jaguar XE S is that you will likely be spend­ing your time in this car in the driv­ing seat.

It cer­tainly is a cos­set­ting place to be, en­veloped by the yacht-in­spired wrap­around dash, which made its de­but in the larger Jaguar XF. It is more distinc­tive than the larger car, but there is no es­cap­ing that the XE is a sig­nif­i­cantly tighter fit.

What the new gen­er­a­tion of Jaguars is not short on, how­ever, are high tech gad­gets and good­ies to keep you en­ter­tained and en­thralled through­out your drive. The XE S be­ing no ex­cep­tion. Like its brethren (and some of its cousins in the Land Rover sta­ble), the XE S get the bril­liant InCon­trol Touch sys­tem with its 8” touch­screen dis­play and up­graded Merid­ian sound sys­tem that de­liv­ers 380 W of pure lis­ten­ing purr­fec­tion.

There is no An­droid Auto or Ap­ple CarPlay, how­ever, and nei­ther are the elec­tri­cally-fold­ing front seats heated – it’s an op­tional ex­tra – which doesn’t sit too well when con­sid­er­ing that the XE S car­ries a R260,000 premium over its clos­est sib­ling in the range.

Other op­tional items that should ap­pear on the stan­dard spec sheet, in our opin­ion, in­clude safety specs such as adap­tive cruise con­trol, lane de­par­ture warn­ing and blind spot mon­i­tor­ing.

MAGIC ON THE OUT­SIDE

For the ex­te­rior, Jaguar has given the S the full monty makeover that echoes the R-Sport trim of the 30t model, but adds some key styling cues not avail­able on the lesser car. These in­clude red brake cal­lipers that peek through what were op­tioned 20” wheels on our test car (19” split spoke al­loys are stan­dard), while the black sills and rear valance hint at the car’s in­di­vid­u­al­ity, the twin tailpipes make it of­fi­cial.

ALL ABOUT THE DY­NAM­ICS

In many ways, the throaty V6 is a brute of an en­gine, while be­ing re­mark­ably well bal­anced, and be­haved. It is fun to bur­ble down the boule­vard with­out be­ing too crass, but put your foot down, and you’ll see the nee­dles quickly head to­ward the red as the noise rises.

To truly ex­pe­ri­ence what this car is about, you need to turn the gear se­lec­tor dial to Sport mode and switch drive mode to dy­namic.

On the S, dy­nam­ics are cus­tomis­able (an op­tion on lower spec cars), al­low­ing you to tweak the en­gine, gear­box, steer­ing and sus­pen­sion. It’s here that you can move the Jag on from a slightly se­date throt­tle re­sponse into some­thing that’s very twitchy and taut: once in dy­namic mode, it will buck as soon as you touch the ac­cel­er­a­tor, send­ing you deeper into the leather sports seats, as the rear wheels hunt for grip.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, dy­namic mode de­ac­ti­vates the auto start/stop func­tion that comes on in other modes.

This XE sends power to the rear via Jaguar’s sharp eight-speed se­quen­tial gear­box, pro­pel­ling the cat from zero to 100 km/h in a claimed 4.8 sec­onds. That’s pretty fast by any mea­sure.

And the soundtrack is sporty too, and al­though you don’t quite get the full range of pop­ping and echo­ing growls that you’ll find on slightly more pow­er­ful en­gines from the sports sa­loons in a tier above the XE, it is an au­then­ti­cally Jaguar ex­pe­ri­ence.

At the same time, this is still a Jaguar that re­mains per­fectly com­posed while cornering nicely, with great feel to the

JAGUAR XE S

steer­ing and enough flex­i­bil­ity in the sports sus­pen­sion to keep you per­fectly bal­anced in the cor­ners.

LAST WORD

There is no short­age of pre­dictable ri­vals in the lux­ury sports saloon seg­ment – think the Audi S, BMW M Sport or Mer­cedes-AMG – but if you crave some­thing that is unique, yet is still packed with qual­ity and ex­cite­ment, then this high-spir­ited Jaguar might be just the cat you need.

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