Jaguar XE buyer’s guide

FROM £14,000 Com­pact exec is a fine choice as a sec­ond-hand pre­mium fam­ily car

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How cool com­pact exec can be yours from £14,000

JAGUAR has a rich his­tory of build­ing lux­u­ri­ous saloons, but when it has tried to cater for the mass mar­ket with smaller mod­els it gen­er­ally hasn’t done so well.

In­deed, be­fore the XE ar­rived three years ago, the brand’s only real at­tempt at down­siz­ing was the X-type, which never sold as strongly as in­tended.

In the X-type era the firm was owned by Ford, but since Tata took over a decade ago Jaguar’s ap­proach has changed, and so has the mar­ket. The cars are bet­ter than ever but, with saloons fall­ing out of favour as buy­ers mi­grate to SUVS, the XE com­petes in a shrink­ing seg­ment that’s dom­i­nated by some very tal­ented con­tenders – so should you con­sider buy­ing one?

His­tory

THE first XES were de­liv­ered in June 2015, and while there was a 335bhp su­per­charged 3.0-litre six-cylin­der petrol edi­tion (the XE S) top­ping the range, vir­tu­ally all mod­els fea­tured an In­ge­nium four-cylin­der 2.0-litre en­gine. The petrol ver­sion came in 197bhp or 237bhp forms, and the diesel was pro­duced in 161bhp or 178bhp guises.

Just five months later re­vi­sions were an­nounced, with a big­ger 10.2-inch touch­screen be­com­ing op­tional, plus four-wheel drive on the high-pow­ered diesel en­gine, which could be se­lected with a man­ual or au­to­matic gear­box.

In Fe­bru­ary 2017 a 295bhp 2.0-litre petrol en­gine was added to the range, the 3.0-litre V6 S was up­graded to 375bhp and a 237bhp twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel ar­rived, badged 25d.

Which one?

WE wouldn’t steer you away from any en­gine, and while both man­u­als and au­tos are good, most buy­ers want the lat­ter. As a re­sult, if you buy a man­ual XE you may have trou­ble sell­ing it on later – and the petrol en­gine wasn’t of­fered with a man­ual in any case.

The en­try-level SE fea­tures cruise con­trol, 17-inch al­loys, rear park­ing sen­sors, cloth trim, au­to­matic lights and wipers, and nav­i­ga­tion. Pres­tige adds leather and heated front seats, while the R-sport has bi-xenon head­lights, sport sus­pen­sion and sportier styling in­side and out. Port­fo­lio spec also has elec­tri­cally ad­justable front seats, an up­graded mul­ti­me­dia sys­tem and a soft-touch dash. All XES fea­ture AEB, but a spare wheel is an op­tional ex­tra.

Al­ter­na­tives

JAGUAR’S big­gest prob­lem is the ex­is­tence of the Audi A4, BMW 3 Se­ries and Mercedes C-class, all of which are avail­able with a wide range of en­gines

and in saloon or es­tate form. They’re all well equipped, solidly built, safe and good to drive; while the Mercedes and BMW are rear-wheel drive, the Audi is front-wheel drive, al­though the lat­ter two are avail­able with four-wheel drive. Also con­sider the sharply styled Mazda 6 and the hy­brid Lexus GS.

Ver­dict

THE XE has been crowned Best Com­pact Ex­ec­u­tive Car at our New Car Awards on three con­sec­u­tive oc­ca­sions (2015-17), and im­presses with its sharp looks and even sharper han­dling. With its ef­fi­cient en­gines, re­fine­ment and com­fort, there’s lots to love about Jag’s smallest saloon.

Prac­ti­cal­ity could be bet­ter – the rear seats and boot can’t match the room in some ri­vals – but the XE isn’t poor in this re­spect; it’s just beaten else­where.

If you make a list of the pros and cons of the Jag, you will find some short­com­ings. How­ever, live with one for a while and you’re likely to for­get these quickly, be­cause this ju­nior exec saloon is a fine all-rounder.

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