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Jaguar XE 2015 Test Drive Review

Date: 24 April 2015   |   Author:

Category: Upper medium
Key rival: BMW 3-series
P11D: £32,970
On sale: April 2015
Equipment: 18in alloys, heated sports seats, satellite navigation, cruise control, DAB radio, lane departure assist, auto emergency braking
Engine: Petrol 200hp 2.0, 240hp 2.0, 340hp 3.0, Diesel 163hp 2.0, 180hp 2.0
Trim: SE, Prestige, R-sport, Portfolio, S
Transmission: 6-speed manual, 8-speed automatic

The launch of the XE marks the start of Jaguar's fleet strategy proper in the UK, which will see the brand's total annual volumes double to 40,000 units.

It's a two-pronged attack from Jaguar, focussing on making it a class leader on whole-life costs, as well as the ultimate driver's saloon from behind the wheel. The idea is that there will now be no rational reason why a fleet manager or a company car driver wouldn't choose this car.

The majority of fleet sales will be split between the two diesel engines on offer, one with 163hp and 99g/km and another at 180hp and 109g/km. There is also a 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine available.

We tested the 180hp diesel as the low-emission 99g/km option was not available on the launch, but Jaguar is expecting the split to be quite even between the two models in R-sport trim as there are only two benefit-in-kind bands between them.

The company has done a fantastic job of shaping this car around the costs, with the XE coming out a clear winner against established rivals such as the Audi A4, BMW 3-series and Mercedes C-class. Even with the higher-output diesel, the XE is 4p clear per mile against its competitors at 61.8p. Drivers will be pleased too because it will cost just £104 a month for a 20% taxpayer or £209 for those at the higher rate. Read our analysis on how the 99g/km CO2 version stacks up against rivals.

These impressive running cost figures are bolstered by an exceedingly strong residual value performance at 44.1% plus low servicing and insurance costs.

Where the XE is less successful is on delivering its promise of best-in-class handling. The sporting prowess of the 3-series is difficult to match, and while the XE is by no means a slouch, it's not quite good enough to claim that position from the BMW.

The XE is the first Jaguar to feature electric power steering, and although the car responds well to driver inputs, there's not as much feel or weight through the wheel compared to the 3 series. It's possible to switch the car into race mode by pushing a button in front of the gear stick, but there's no noticeable change to the steering or throttle response.

It's still engaging to drive, though, with good balance, and it's capable of making that switch from motorway cruiser to a car you could take out on the weekend for a bit of fun.

The six-speed manual is decent, but the XE feels more at home with the eight-speed auto, offering smooth shifts and the ability to flick through the gears manually with paddle shifts. The trade-off is that the auto adds 2g/km to the CO2 output, which bumps the car up one BIK bracket.

The Jag doesn't stack up well against rivals in terms of practicality, with, at 455 litres, one of the smallest boots in the segment, while long journeys would be uncomfortable for anyone 6ft or over sitting in the rear passenger seats. You can also forget trying to get an adult on the middle, rear bench seat.

Customers may also be disappointed that the XE isn't more distinctive in terms of design. While the front three quarters has a good presence on the road, the car would be difficult to pick out at a glance from the rear. Jaguar was able to start with a blank sheet with this model, and after producing products such as the XJ and F-type, you would expect something a bit more special.

The interior is built around a speedboat motif idea taken from the XJ, and you feel well positioned in the cockpit, with controls neatly set out around you. Some of the buttons surrounding the standard eight-inch touch-screen don't feel as premium as they perhaps should, and the stitching and trim alignments aren't quite as tidy as the A4's.

Standard specification on the R-sport trim is generous, with satnav, leather and Jaguar's smartphone-linking technology all standard. The touch-screen controls are intuitive and react quickly to inputs.

Jaguar has created an impressive package for fleet drivers and a car that delivers for fleet managers on whole-life costs. The manufacturer has succeeded were so many premium challengers have failed, and as a result the XE will likely establish itself on company car lists as one of the best premium upper medium models available.

Jaguar XE 2.0D R Sport 180

Model price range £26,990-£44,865
Residual value 44.1%
Depreciat¬ion £18,445
Fuel £4810
Service, maintenance and repair £2635
Vehicle Excise Duty £40
National Insurance £2730
Cost per mile 61.8p
Fuel consumption 67.3mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 109g/km (19%)
BIK 20/40% per month £104/£209
Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space (min/max) 450 litres
Engine size/power 1999cc/180hp
 
 

 

 


Verdict


Class-leading running costs and capable handling establish the XE as part of the premium saloon elite
9/10
  • Running costs
  • Standard equipment
  • Fun to drive
  • Small boot
  • Rear legroom

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