Jaguar XE: Test Drive Review

There are two things which come into our minds when we think about a Jaguar. Prestige and Class. And the Jaguar XE indeed does continue the trend. Always known to be a top notch niche competitor in our market but they haven’t been having the right portfolio since the last few years.

Finally the leaping cat has an all new car in terms of design and development to reach a whole new audience. They are calling it the XE and by far, this is the smallest Jaguar sedan ever built. So how does she feel behind the wheel? This is a whole new sports compact saloon after the failed X-type 14 years ago. And oh boy, this is one mean and powerful car.

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Exterior:
In terms of image, this Jaguar is everything you need to have it stand out proud in the company car park. Compared with the Audis, BMWs and Mercedes with which it competes for company car drivers’ affections, the XE is something completely different, and a huge part of its appeal lies the way it looks.

The front end is very purposeful. It has a wide grill, sleek headlamps and pair of winglets in chrome. This makes it similar and gives the very same impact like its bigger XF and XJ compatriots.  I think a good way to describe this car is athletic. From the bulge on the hood to the big hexagonal mesh grille to the growler sitting in the middle of this grille, the XE is a striking car that I believe is the best looking in the segment. Its looks are definitely not going to polarize opinion.

All cars come with alloy wheels – and there are a wide variety of designs to choose from – while Portfolio and R-Sport versions get a range of sporty styling goodies. Both have 18-inch alloys and smart Bi-Xenon headlights with LED running lights.

The new XE is built on a whole new platform which incorporates around 75 per cent aluminum. This all new platform also forms the basis of future cars, primarily the new XF and the F-Pace that will follow. The significant use of aluminum makes it lighter – kerb weight is now at 1,608 kilos which is comparable to anything else in the segment.

jaguar-xe-sedan-review-21Interiors:
One look inside this Jaguar and you know that they have gone with the design philosophy of ‘Less is More’. The console is mainly dominated by an 8.0” touch screen display and has a very few buttons. This has a pretty logical way of working and is easy to deal with. The seats are adjustable and all the 4 get adjustable tilt able backrests. You really cannot compare it to its German rivals since some of the touch points do feel a tad bit robust and the other panels in the car are not as tactile as you would like them. But overall I think this car does have a sense of sophistication in its own way.

Some more details aren’t perfect too. The window switches on the driver’s door are placed in a strange manner. I found myself knocking my elbow on the lid of the center storage box while steering the car multiple times. The narrow rear window is flanked by thick pillars blocking visibility. The standard trim is black leather but there are a host of options you could choose to brighten up the cabin.

The dashboard has a wrapped around effect which has a crease that begins from one door continues around the dashboard and ends up on the opposite door. It’s a signature touch to the XE and looks quite interesting but I do think in certain climatic conditions, the sharp crease on the door will be a bit of a bother, since it’s capable of collecting water if the doors are opened during a heavy monsoon shower.

Another smart feature is the dashboard color changing. The dynamic mode changes the LED to a red color from the dull blue the moment you switch to it.

A significant revision to the cabin is that the air con vents, which opened up on either side of the center display when the ignition was switched on, have been taken out and replaced with a more conventional layout. However, the side vents, placed lower than in most cars and whose thick chrome bezels protrude out of the dashboard, might bang into your knee while trying to step into the XE. This seems to me as a design flaw and Jaguar is sure to hear about this from other testers.

jaguar-xe-sedan-review-60Electronics and Features:
This car is loaded with stuff that will make any tech-savvy person go bonkers. It’s got something called iConnect that, at its simplest level, is a contemporary infotainment system.  And what you get is an infotainment system that can do a lot more than just play music or behave as a navigation tool. It allows users to connect their smartphones to allow apps to be accessed on the system. It can be used as a Wifi hotspot or you could also access the car through a remote application on your phone. So pre-cool or pre-heat your car, lock, unlock and remote access data fields from the ECU. I think this is plenty of technology loaded up into this car. Not to mention that all this in the smallest sedan which they have.

The model we used was fitted with Jaguar’s InControl Touch infotainment system, one step below the 10.2in InControl Touch Pro system.  The iConnect has an 8” touch screen.  From a drivers point of view this was pretty decent. But if you look real close you could see the gradual line of pixels. Something of a good touch-screen but not the best in the lot. Still, the XE’s display is at least bright, and offers punchy colours in the dim light of the Jaguar’s luxurious interior. Testing it in the sunny weather overcast and things looked just fine on the inside and so was it satisfactory at night.

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Starting up the system took a flat 8 seconds. It was only after this that the infotainment came into life. This is quite a bit the lag which I was not expecting.

The first screen you see is split into four quarters, providing quick shortcuts to the system’s core functions – Media, Climate control, Phone and Navigation. The touch-screen is stub and not exactly your finger sensitive material.

Should you choose to avoid the touchscreen, there are shortcut buttons – the touchscreen has four on each side, giving you quick access to the car’s core functions – which are large and easy to press with an outstretched finger. Overall I think they lack the finesse and the sort of finishing which you definitely get from its German rivals.

To make sure that you have your attention on the road, the car has multiple of its functions on the wheel. I found this to be extremely useful and daunting. Initially I was not able to take my eyes of that fully loaded wheel which gives some sort of total control in your arms, but soon I got accustomed to them. The voice commands are also a bit directionally following and you need to study the car manual before actually getting a hang of the system.

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Engine:
The new Jaguar XE comes with a total of 4 engines. They are all mated to a rapid ZF 8 speed automatic transmission. The only new engine is the Ingenium 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel, which bangs out a competitive 132kW and 430Nm.

This engine is perfect enough to haul this 1.5 ton car with certain ease and smoothness. It is really efficient and we managed to get figures of up to 4.2L/100kms which is astonishingly impressive.

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India will only be getting the entry and mid-grade petrol engines which are Ford-sourced 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder units punching out 147kW/280Nm and 177kW/340Nm respectively, with the latter expected to be the most popular model. The 177kW four-pot engine it works very well in the XE, giving it a surprising turn of speed from standstill and at speed, and emitting a tasty growl at high revs too. It uses fuel at a rate of 7.5L/100km.

Driven in aggression, with no speed limits or traffic, the lusty blown engine at the RACE mode proves in no uncertain terms just how balanced, controllable and indeed forgiving the new XE is. I have driven cars in this segment but after a couple of laps in this, I was shoving the XE deeper into corners, getting on the throttle earlier and I could feel the immense effect the 75% aluminum chassis has had on the damping and dynamics of this car. It remained glued to the road like a magnet and I must say that I was absolutely overwhelmed.  When set to medium, the stability control affords plenty of give but will also collect things before they go pear-shaped. At its limit, the XE is compelling. The more you push it, the better it gets – something that few production cars achieve on a racetrack. And that sound of the new engine BEGS you to go harder. MUCH HARDER.

Safety:
This is a modern day car and yes it has a full suite of active and passive safety technologies to make sure your drive is safe and you get to your destination. Complementing the standard traction and stability control is Jaguar Land Rover’s new All Surface Progress Control – a system that automatically moves the car off from a standstill in slippery conditions to prevent wheel spin.

This car has an all-aluminum chassis so make note that this is one hell of a strong car and it could brace impacts with a lot of ease and protection. But know this, aluminum is expensive than steel so be prepared for  a hefty bill in-case of a big impact.

jaguar-xe-sedan-review-85I personally believe that this new venture from Jaguar is going to be a car which the entire industry looks with interest. This is no doubt the biggest threat to the BMW 3 series. According to the experts, Jaguar has hit the nail on this one. The XE is remarkably comfortable but, unlike some rivals, manages to also feel agile and alert when you’re in the mood to drive quickly. This is a really great looking car with exuberant interiors and all the good technology loaded in.

I don’t think you should buy this one because you want to be driven in. Buy it because you love to drive. It is the perfect combination of a family car which you could commute to work and shopping all week long, and stretch your legs and rip her for long drives over the weekends.

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So would i want to own this WILDCAT? In a jiffy! This new petrol motor has opened up a new standard for performance and not to mention a whole new game for Jaguar. With a supple ride, excellent refinement and class-leading fuel economy, it’s also a perfect motorway cruiser.  There are a few things which I could think of criticizing here and there but overall this car is there and way at par with its competition. If interior look & feel is what you want, it’s the Mercedes-Benz C-Class which walks away with the trophy.

Click here to check our the Jaguar XE photo gallery.

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Vishal Menon

Vishal Menon

Automobiles have always been part of my life, and I'm sure they always will be. What is it about them that moves me? The sound of a great engine, the unity and uniqueness of an automobile's engineering and the design, the history of the company and the car, and, of course, the sheer beauty of the thing.