Jaguar XE New performance variant makes 296bhp
New 2.0-litre turbo performance model replaces the inef cient 3.0-litre V6 in the XE line-up On sale Now Price from £31,245
WITH ONE HAND the new, stricter WLTP regulations giveth, and with the other they taketh away. A much-needed change in the way official fuel economy and CO2 emissions figures are established has resulted in some low-volume, high-emitting performance models being killed off.
Farewell, then, to the Jaguar XE S; its 376bhp supercharged 3.0-litre V6 is now just a memory in Jaguar’s smallest saloon. Taking its place is the XE 300 Sport, a limitededition model powered by the 296bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine from the F-type coupé, with four-wheel drive.
When you fire up the 300 Sport, there’s no raging engine note to suggest you’re in a range-topping performance model. Rather, the engine remains pleasantly subdued around town, and refinement generally is impressive. The ride is a little fidgety at lower speeds, but it isn’t uncomfortable.
With the new engine, acceleration is brisk but hardly exhilarating. The 300 Sport is beaten by the cheaper BMW 340i in a drag race, leaving it feeling a little lightweight in terms of pace. The automatic gearbox has an annoying tendency to hesitate before responding to a press of the accelerator, too, taking its time to kick down a couple of gears.
Come to a corner, though, and the XE shines, with smooth, sharp steering and effortless agility that helps to make it one of the best executive cars to hustle along a twisty B-road.
However, this impressive handling can be had in an XE that costs significantly less than the 300 Sport. This car costs £6000 more than the SE model with the same engine. A similarly stylish performance rival comes in the shape of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce, which is also around £6000 cheaper.
The 300 Sport’s high price also highlights the shortcomings of its interior, which has disappointing build quality and mediocre space.
The XE is a wonderful executive car to drive and this engine is a good fit, but if you can do without the lairy yellow stitching inside, we’d suggest that you stick with one of the less exclusive but better-value versions lower down the range.
Sport gets yellow stitching inside; quality is a letdown