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First drive: Jaguar XE Reims Edition. Image by Jaguar UK.

First drive: Jaguar XE Reims Edition
The updated Jaguar XE gets a bright blue special edition to honour its motorsport past. We’ve driven it.

 



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Jaguar XE Reims Edition

4 4 4 4 4

Jaguar has produced a limited-edition version of its compact XE saloon called the Reims Edition, which looks bloody lovely, thanks to its eye-catching French Racing Blue paint. But this is also our first try of a facelifted XE, so how is this BMW 3 Series-challenger holding up these days?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Jaguar XE Reims Edition
Pricing: XE range from £33,915; Reims Edition from £38,295
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: four-door compact executive saloon
CO2 emissions: 159g/km (VED Band 151-170: £530 first 12 months, then £145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 36.2mpg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 6.5 seconds
Power: 250hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 365Nm at 1,300-4,500rpm
Boot space: 410 litres

What's this?

Jaguar's compact executive challenger, the XE saloon, refreshed for the 2019 model year and also given a lick of paint as a special model called the Reims Edition. Actually, the general XE revisions came into effect much earlier in 2019, bringing in subtly tweaked looks on the outside as well as crucial technical updates inside to the infotainment, the instrument cluster, the transmission tunnel and the steering wheel (the last item coming from the I-Pace electric SUV). . . and very good they are too, bringing a more premium air to the XE's cabin so that it can mix it with the aforementioned BMW 3 Series, as well as the likes of the Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Lexus IS and Volvo S60.

Although, before we begin on the Reims Edition, a word about the instrument cluster. You can have a full 12.3-inch digital affair on the XE, but it's a cost option and our test RE-spec car didn't have it, instead making do with a digital/analogue hybrid that's not quite up to snuff in this class these days. The speedo and rev counter dials are, in the main, analogue, with a tiny bit of digitisation where the central screen cuts into them; in this respect, it's not unlike a Vauxhall Insignia, and we don't particularly like this feature in a Griffin-badged car, never mind a Jag.

But we digress. In most respects, the Reims Edition's interior is fine. So what is this special all about? Well, it will be built in a batch of just 200 cars, all destined for the UK, and is said to be the first in a line of 'Jaguar Factory Specials', which will see the regular range enhanced with models sporting bespoke features and limited production runs. This one celebrates the Jaguar D-Type's maiden victory in 1954 at the 12 Hours of Reims, the car in that instance driven by Ken Wharton and Peter Whitehead and clocking more than 1,250 miles at an average of 105mph in the race. In fact, the Jaguar-Daimler Heritage Trust has fitted a plaque commemorating this heroic achievement on the preserved Jaguar-branded pit of the eerie, disused Reims-Geux circuit, which is just outside the northern French city of Reims (the clue's in the name...).

However, if you can't get over to the Champagne region to see the plaque, then you could do worse than buy a Reims Edition to celebrate the D-Type's astonishing result. The celebratory XE is painted in French Racing Blue (a-HA!), a shade last seen on the bonkers XKR-S and XFR-S supercharged V8 models of the early 2010s. It is based on the 2.0-litre Ingenium petrol-powered P250 R-Dynamic S model, complete with badge-deletion, while much of its exterior detailing is switched to gloss-black (the roof, the radiator grille, the window surrounds, the door mirrors, the side vents, the sill inserts and the 19-inch, five split-spoke alloys) and it also has privacy glass aft of the B-pillar. Inside, heated seats and the Cold Climate pack (heated windscreen, heated steering wheel and heated headlight washer) couple with some more of those 2019MY wider XE updates, like Apple CarPlay, a reversing camera and front/rear parking aids, to make it feel suitably luxurious. The starting price for all of this is £38,295, which compares to the XE range's starting price of £33,915, so the Reims Edition is less than five grand more than base spec and, crucially, it also lists for less than £40,000 if you can avoid options, so you won't pay the 'rich' VED tax in years two to six of ownership if you want it.

How does it drive?

In a rather lovely fashion, truth be told. While the Jaguar XE remains a slightly leftfield choice in the class, mainly because it is still a somewhat cramped vehicle to sit in the back of and it has a modest boot by class standards, one thing the British four-door has always been since launch is good to drive. Since then, further refinement of the four-cylinder turbocharged Ingenium engines has been ongoing and this P250 unit is something of a gem. It's superb and inertia-free, revving out keenly (to, admittedly, a relatively lowly point of peak power at 5,500rpm) and displaying no significant vibrations whatsoever, while performance is decently punchy and the soundtrack admirably edgy, without coming across as artificial. The XE Reims therefore feels like a properly sporty sports saloon, rather than just a mid-spec model embellished by bright paintwork and not much more.

Although... this is precisely what it is. The excellent way the Reims drives is entirely to do with the base P250 R-Dynamic S base material, which kicks off at £35,505, rather than any of the equipment or spec added to create this Jaguar Factory Special. Nevertheless, while you weigh up whether vivid blue paintwork and a small degree of rarity value is worth £2,800, we'll tell you that we happen to really like the way the Reims goes about its business dynamically. The balance between ride comfort and body control is supremely well-judged, the XE managing to smother almost all of the worst lumps and bumps in the road into submission, while feeling agile and direct in the corners. The steering needs particular praise, because it's light in weighting but quick off-centre, with maybe even a hint of feedback to be discerned through the wheel. Noise suppression is also good, if not as impressive as in the Audi and Merc rivals, while the rear-driven balance of the chassis makes it better to drive than anything in this class, bar the Alfa Romeo Giulia. All in all, this special-edition XE is a strong addition to the revised line-up and a corking-looking thing aesthetically.

Verdict

Nothing groundbreaking from the Jaguar XE Reims Edition, as it's a limited special that's not mechanically upgraded from its source material and it's one which commands a near-£3,000 premium to boot. However, the sparkling way the Jaguar drives and a list price which remains the right side of 40 grand makes the Reims a vehicle well worth considering in this segment, unless you're after either the most practical compact executive saloon or the one with the best cabin. Never mind those considerations, though - that natty FRB paint and black detailing should be enough to win plenty of fans; indeed, probably a lot more than the 200 units of the Reims Edition that will be made available.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 16 Dec 2019









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2020 Jaguar XE Reims Edition. Image by Jaguar UK.2020 Jaguar XE Reims Edition. Image by Jaguar UK.2020 Jaguar XE Reims Edition. Image by Jaguar UK.2020 Jaguar XE Reims Edition. Image by Jaguar UK.2020 Jaguar XE Reims Edition. Image by Jaguar UK.

2020 Jaguar XE Reims Edition. Image by Jaguar UK.2020 Jaguar XE Reims Edition. Image by Jaguar UK.2020 Jaguar XE Reims Edition. Image by Jaguar UK.2020 Jaguar XE Reims Edition. Image by Jaguar UK.2020 Jaguar XE Reims Edition. Image by Jaguar UK.








 

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