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

What Car? - - Contents - Doug Re­volta­[email protected]­mar­

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

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