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30 Sep, 2019 11:00am Steve Sutcliffe
First report: Refreshed Jaguar XE makes good first impression on our fleet
It's fair to say that the XE has never quite hit the spot for Jaguar. Although it’s a perfectly good saloon car in more ways than one, true greatness has always eluded it. As a result it has struggled to compete head on with the best cars of the same size on offer from Mercedes, BMW and Audi.
Last year Jaguar’s bosses had some tough decisions to make regarding the future of its smallish saloon. I imagine the internal debate went something along the lines of: do we give up on it and move on, make something else, or give it one last roll?
Fortunately, the company’s strategists went for the latter option and this new, much-improved XE is the result. We’re testing it here for the next six months in top R-Dynamic HSE trim, with the fruitiest engine that’s available under the bonnet of an XE: the 296bhp, 400Nm, 2.0-litre, four- cylinder “Ingenium” petrol turbo.
The normal price for this model is already a somewhat eye-watering £45,835. But with an admittedly extensive range of options fitted, this rises to a full eyebrow-raising £54,125. To be fair, though, the car does look pretty stunning inside and out, what with its Caldera Red paintwork (£300), 20-inch alloy wheels (£900), sliding panoramic roof (£1,200) and Technology Pack (£1,190).
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The Tech Pack brings Jaguar’s clever new ClearSight rear-view mirror, Touch Pro Duo screens, wireless phone charging and a useful head-up display that appears by magic in the windscreen – so long as you can find the right button on the steering wheel with which to deploy it, which took me a good few days.
So our new XE has all the bells and whistles and is expensive, for sure, but in the flesh it does look more imposing than before, even if it still seems a bit weedy next to the XE Project 8 in our header shot above. Then again, almost anything looks wimpy sitting beside the cartoonish supersaloon.
All the latest XE models look and feel a fair bit classier inside than before and boast far more modern technology, too. But ours does feel extra special thanks to those optional twin touchscreens and the £600 uprated Meridian 17-speaker stereo, together with the R-Dynamic HSE’s already plush sporty leather trim, fine seats and well stacked standard interior. I used to climb inside an XE and think, “is that it?” – but now, I’m thinking the opposite.
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So far I’ve done just over 500 miles in the Jag, and right now I’m feeling pretty good about it – except for a couple of aspects. One, the 2.0-litre engine still feels quite tight, which is perhaps to be expected given that there are still less than 1,500 miles on the clock. Above 4,500rpm it makes a good enough noise but it doesn’t feel like it’s enjoying itself much. Hopefully this will change as the miles get wound into the crank and the motor starts to loosen up.
Secondly, I’ve already managed to put a small dink in the rim of the front left alloy, the result of a clumsy bit of parking on my part, involving a kerb that was simply higher than I thought it was. It was one of those moments when you climb out hoping there’s no damage but knowing inside that there is. And now our shiny new XE with its glistening 20-inch wheels is, I’m ashamed to admit, no longer perfect in its appearance.
But the rest of the car is still in impeccable working order and I’m beginning to fall for it for all sorts of reasons. It’s even managed to carry two small cats and one wife to the vets recently, which I found quite amusing; my new big cat carries two small cats and everyone – eventually – goes home happy.
I’ve taken it to Anglesey circuit in North Wales to give it a proper workout, too, more on which in later reports. Over the coming months we’ll be finding out not only how well this top-spec XE works as a sports saloon, but also how well the Jaguar copes with the daily commute and everything
else that a quick saloon should be good at.
*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.
4 New Jaguar XE is impressing us so far with its refreshed looks and updated interior. Project 8 version proves it has true performance credentials, but even our four-cylinder model is fun to drive.
- On fleet since: August 2019
- Price new: £45,835
- Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl petrol, 296bhp
- CO2/Tax: 168g/km/£465
- Options: Solid paint (£300), 20-inch alloys (£900), spare wheel (£349), sunroof (£1,200), Matrix LED lights (£600), Dynamic Handling Pack (£1,240), Technology Pack (£1,190), Cold Climate Pack (£445), powered tailgate (£400), Meridian stereo (£600)
- Insurance*: Group: 33/Quote: £527
- Mileage: 1,078
- Economy: 29.6mpg
- Any problems: None so far