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First drive: Jaguar XE 2.0d 180hp. Image by Jaguar.

First drive: Jaguar XE 2.0d 180hp
Jaguar's new compact executive, the XE, driven in likely best-selling diesel format.


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Jaguar XE 2.0d 180hp

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The Jaguar XE is an excellent blend of competent handling and serene cruising manners, with an attractive interior and great exterior looks. It's frugal, fast and reasonably priced, meaning the XE is a strong contender in the premium executive market - but the big talking point in this particular model is the brilliant Ingenium diesel engine.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Jaguar XE 2.0d 180 Portfolio manual
Pricing: 2.0d 180 Portfolio from £33,675; XE range begins at £26,990
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, six-speed manual transmission
Body style: four-door saloon
CO2 emissions: 109g/km (VED Band B, £0 first year, £20 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 67.3mpg
Top speed: 142mph
0-62mph: 7.8 seconds
Power: 180hp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 430Nm from 1,750- to 2,500rpm

What's this?

The Jaguar XE compact executive saloon, which we've already driven in pre-production guises and as the finished article with a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. However, whether considering fleet buyers or retail customers, it's highly likely that the vast majority of XEs we'll see on UK roads will be diesels, of which there are two in the launch range. This is the more powerful version, with 180hp and 430Nm, but the 163hp/380Nm model can dip to 99g/km CO2 with a manual gearbox, meaning it is free from VED - an astonishing achievement for a non-hybrid, given the exalted class the XE sits in. Nevertheless, we think the 180hp will be the preferred option for most private buyers, as it's only one band above for road tax and therefore won't cost the Earth to run.

All XEs have an aluminium-intensive structure, familial coupé-inspired styling that both evokes the XJ and will soon be seen on the XF, plus this compact Jag is the most slippery saloon yet to issue forth from the marque with a mere 0.26Cd aerodynamics figure. This means that the Jaguar can theoretically offer excellent fuel economy, high torsional rigidity, low weight (the body-in-white weighs just 251kg) and strong performance - both round corners and in a straight line. The two diesel models are available in either standard six-speed manual or optional eight-speed automatic formats, and they come in all four sub-S trim levels of SE, Prestige, Portfolio and R-Sport. Entry point to the XE range is the £26,990 2.0-litre SE, while the diesels start at £29,775.

In terms of this specific model, we still have no real complaints about either the athletic exterior looks or the improved interior, although the rumpled leather gear gaiter on these manual cars is particularly old hat - you wouldn't find anything like this in a German, Japanese or Swedish rival. Also, while it's a not-inexpensive £1,750 option, we'd say that the eight-speed automatic would be the best bet for an XE; the long-geared manual is fine to use but can lead to odd moments of sub-1,500rpm turbo lag if you're not attentive.

How does it drive?

In this diesel XE, it's the Ingenium engine doing all the hard work up front that dominates the experience. It is a fabulous unit, remaining ultra-smooth from idle to redline and sounding more like a petrol engine than something which runs on derv. It's really keen to rev out to 4,500rpm and has a linear delivery of power that is just a delight to deal with. The end result is that, without ever shouting about it, the XE 2.0d 180 is a deceptively quick car.

It's not let down by the dynamics, but having tried other versions of the XE with better suspension set-ups (namely, the firmer R-Sport passive springs and dampers, or the fully adaptive system), this Comfort-equipped diesel starts to get a bit twitchy when nearing the limits of adhesion. The rear axle feels too soft and not keyed into the road, while the electrically power-assisted steering in its most relaxed setting is inconsistent and lacking feel. So it's not the most rewarding XE to punt along at a fair old lick. However, body control, grip and wheel travel are all first rate, so by way of compensation neither is the diesel XE a total loss.

Where it makes most sense is whispering along a motorway, as the XE supresses external noises to the point of total silence. That means it is a supremely comfortable and cosseting cruiser, easily capable of holding its own in the serenity stakes when matched up to the W205 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the current benchmark for comfort in this segment. Indeed, the XE is the new class-leader on this score because the Ingenium diesel is a good deal more refined and quieter than the 2.1-litre unit found in the Merc. Or BMW's 2.0-litre diesel, for that matter. The outcome is that, if our test car had been an automatic 180 with the adaptive suspension, we'd have had no hesitation in giving the Jaguar XE an extra half-star in our overall rating.


Specified in S trim, with a supercharged V6 petrol and the full suite of Jaguar's chassis tech, the XE is one of the most beguiling and competent sports saloons you could wish to drive. But, of course, the reality for many of us is that we can't afford a near-45 grand car that will only do 35 miles to the gallon... if you're lucky. Thankfully, Jaguar has blessed the more commonplace XEs with one of the best diesel engines we've yet driven - muscular, economical, quiet and silky smooth, the incredible Ingenium alone makes the XE worth the entrance fee. Time for the Germans to respond; Audi will be first to tackle the Jag when it replaces the A4 later this year. And Ingolstadt will have a very tough job on its hands if it wants to beat this brilliant, entry-level Jaguar.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

5 5 5 5 5 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain

Matt Robinson - 6 May 2015    - Jaguar road tests
- Jaguar news
- XE images

2015 Jaguar XE. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XE. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XE. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XE. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XE. Image by Jaguar.

2015 Jaguar XE. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XE. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XE. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XE. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XE. Image by Jaguar.

2015 Jaguar XE. Image by Jaguar.

2015 Jaguar XE. Image by Jaguar.

2015 Jaguar XE. Image by Jaguar.

2015 Jaguar XE. Image by Jaguar.

2015 Jaguar XE. Image by Jaguar.

2015 Jaguar XE. Image by Jaguar.

2015 Jaguar XE. Image by Jaguar.

2015 Jaguar XE. Image by Jaguar.

2015 Jaguar XE. Image by Jaguar.

2015 Jaguar XE. Image by Jaguar.


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