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First drive: Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport. Image by Jaguar.

First drive: Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport
An early drive in Jaguar's rival to the BMW 3 Series shows real promise.

   



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Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport

4 4 4 4 4

Ahead of its arrival in showrooms in the next few months we've driven the new Jaguar XE in prototype form. Jaguar says these cars are still a bit rough around the edges as a result, but even so the established German rivals should be worried.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport
Price: 33,015
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: four-door saloon
CO2 emissions: 109g/km (Band B, 20 per year)
Combined economy: 67.3mpg
Top speed: 142mph
0-62mph: 7.8 seconds
Power: 180hp at 4,000rpm
Torque 430Nm at 1,750- to 2,500rpm

What's this?

A new car, built in a new factory, with a new engine, the XE is fairly unique in the car world because of that. Jaguar's resurgence is continuing apace, and to really take on the trio of Germans that dominate the premium sector it needs this XE to be at least as good, if not better than the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4. That threesome represents a formidable list of rivals, which is why Jaguar has gone to great lengths to beat them. There's an aluminium structure, 'Integral Link' rear and double wishbone front suspension, a new infotainment system, an eight-speed automatic transmission and a completely new engine line-up.

It's perhaps a shame then that Jaguar has been a touch conservative with the XE's style, it looking very much like a shrunken XF, though inside it's pleasingly different, even if passenger space in the rear isn't exactly generous. That's true of its intended rivals too though, and it has done nothing to dampen the market's enthusiasm for them...

How does it drive?

Competing in a class that includes the BMW 3 Series means the XE has to drive well. And it does, the XE at least as capable as its Bavarian rival, and indeed in many aspects more pleasing to drive. The most impressive facet of its make up is the ride quality. Even in this 2.0-litre diesel model featuring R-Sport specification, which brings a lower, firmer set-up, the ride is remarkably supple and composed. That's on roads in Portugal that do a decent impression of the under-invested, hard-worn and broken tarmac that makes up the UK's road network.

There's real control from that suspension too, body movements kept in check, grip and traction high, while the XE exhibits fine balance. There's not a great deal of feel at the steering wheel's rim, but it's accurate, with consistent weighting, allowing the XE to be placed with real confidence and the XE's agility is very impressive indeed. It's good enough in this passive damping guise to make us wonder how the variable set-up offered on more expensive models could improve on its finely judged balance between ride, comfort and control. On this evidence the non R-Sport passive set up should be a paragon of comfort.

If there's a question mark at this stage it's with the engine, the new 2.0-litre Ingenium turbodiesel not feeling quite as punchy as BMW's 320d unit in its mid-range, and suffering from some diesel clatter and vibration from around 1,200- to 1,800rpm. Jaguar's engineers say that will be addressed in the final production specification cars. The eight-speed automatic transmission is swift and more or less imperceptible in its ratio swaps, leaving the wheel-mounted paddles all but redundant.

Verdict

Jaguar's first attempt at the compact executive saloon marketplace - the X Type - revealed just how difficult it is to take on the established players. It has learned from that and the XE is a car that's more than an equal for its contemporaries - and in many ways it eclipses them.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

3 3 3 3 3 Passenger Space

3 3 3 3 3 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

3 3 3 3 3 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Kyle Fortune - 28 Jan 2015



  www.jaguar.co.uk    - Jaguar road tests
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2015 Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport prototype. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport prototype. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport prototype. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport prototype. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport prototype. Image by Jaguar.

2015 Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport prototype. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport prototype. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport prototype. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport prototype. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport prototype. Image by Jaguar.



2015 Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport prototype. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport prototype. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport prototype. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport prototype. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport prototype. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport prototype. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport prototype. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport prototype. Image by Jaguar.
 

2015 Jaguar XE 2.0d R-Sport prototype. Image by Jaguar.
 






 

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