What stands out?
The mid-sized Jaguar XE sedan has an understated, stylish look, terrific engines, and steers and handles brilliantly. It is more fun than premium German alternatives. Auto braking is standard.
What might bug me?
Discovering that friends who spent much less on Japanese or Korean cars got more luxury features. For example, the Kia Optima GT and Mazda6 Atenza have heated seats and a power-operated sunroof. Neither feature is standard in a Jaguar XE S, which costs about twice as much.
Driving at 80km/h on the space-saver spare tyre, until you can fix your full-sized flat.
What body styles are there?
Four-door sedan only.
The Jaguar XE drives its rear wheels. It is classed as a medium car, higher priced.
What features do all Jaguar XEs have?
Dual-zone climate control, which lets you set different temperatures for each side of the cabin. Cruise control. A smart key, which lets you unlock and start the car without removing the key from your bag or pocket.
A reversing camera, and parking sensors front and rear. A parking assist system, which can steer the car into a parking spot.
Windscreen wipers that operate automatically when it rains, and extremely bright bi-xenon headlights that switch on automatically when it’s getting dark.
A leather trimmed steering wheel with powered adjustment for reach and tilt, and 10-way power adjustable front seats. A driver’s seat that can remember your setting, which makes it easy to restore after a companion has driven the car.
A multimedia system with a CD/DVD player, a radio, satellite navigation, and a tablet-style 10.2-inch colour touchscreen display. Two USB ports and an HDMI socket for media streaming from smart devices. Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and audio streaming. Control from buttons on the steering wheel.
Wheels made from aluminium alloy. A space-saver spare wheel and tyre. A tyre pressure monitor, which warns you if a tyre has lost air (this can give you extra time to get a slow-leaking puncture seen to).
Camera-based automatic emergency braking that is effective at speeds up to 80km/h, and lane departure warning. A blind-spot monitor, and a system that warns you, when reversing, of traffic crossing behind you.
Six airbags. (For their placement, and for more on Jaguar XE safety systems, please open the Safety section below).
Electronic stability control, which can help you control a skidding car. All new cars must have this feature.
Every Jaguar XE carries a three-year, 100,000 kilometre warranty.
Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?
Four engines are available in a Jaguar XE, and the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel in two of the less costly models, the XE 2.0d Prestige and R-Sport, is easily the least thirsty of them. It consumes just 4.2 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined).
This engine accelerates the car effortlessly. In many driving conditions it feels more responsive than all but the most powerful XE engine, the supercharged V6 petrol of the XE S – and it matches that.
One reason you might not choose this smooth diesel is that you expect to take your XE out of the city only occasionally. The diesel uses a particulate filter to keep exhaust soot out of the atmosphere, and the filter needs regular highway drives to keep it from becoming clogged.
Another might be that you prefer the way a petrol engine drives. The petrol-engined XEs all feel sportier, and when you ask for all the go you can get, they are quicker.
The least thirsty of the petrol engines are the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo petrols that drive the XE 20t and 25t (available in Prestige, R-Sport and Portfolio trim). Both use 7.5 litres/100km on the official test - even though the retuned 25t delivers about 20 per cent more power than the 20t.
In a real-world comparison conducted for the April 2016 edition of Wheels magazine, an XE 25t averaged 9.8 litres/100km, using a half-litre more than the most frugal of five medium sedans reviewed, a BMW 330i.
The thirstier petrol engine is the 3.0-litre supercharged V6 fitted to the XE S. It is about 70 percent more powerful than the engine in the 20t, and uses 8.1 litres/100km on the official test.
All engines have an automatic stop-start system, which saves fuel in urban driving. It shuts down the engine when you stop, and starts it again when you take your foot off the brake pedal to drive away.
Petrol engines in the XE have shorter service intervals than the diesel, at 12 months or 16,000km. The diesel needs a service every 24 months, or 34,000km.
Every Jaguar XE has an eight-speed conventional automatic gearbox.
What key features do I get if I spend more?
In the XE, Jaguar offers a Prestige style, which emphasises comfort, and an R-Sport style, which emphasises handling. Each brings a choice of three engines: the diesel and the two turbo-petrols as outlined above.
In addition, on the comfort side there is a more luxurious style called the Portfolio, offered only with the more powerful of the turbo-petrol engines. And on the handling side there is a faster and more luxurious style called the S, offered only with the supercharged petrol V6.
Where an XE Prestige has seats trimmed in a mix of real and fake leather, the more expensive R-Sport prefers a leather-like synthetic trim but supplies more deeply bolstered sports seats (which hold you in place more firmly for spirited cornering). A body kit gives the R-Sport a more racy look, and a firmer suspension tune enhances steering response and holds the car flatter through turns.
A Portfolio brings you the same equipment as the Prestige but uses a nicer feeling grade for the leather elements in the seats, wraps the dashboard for a softer feel, and supplies other aesthetic enhancements.
Choosing an XE S brings you the sports seats in part-leather. You get lower profile tyres on 19-inch wheels, which are an inch bigger than those on other XEs. These sharpen the steering slightly.
You also get a more sophisticated suspension that adjusts the way the car rides, automatically, for how rough the road is and how hard you are driving. Jaguar calls this suspension Adaptive Dynamics.
Adaptive Dynamics can be added to any XE as an extra-cost option. It substitutes computer-controlled, electronically valved dampers for the mechanically valved dampers on other XEs.
Among other options is Adaptive Cruise Control, which uses a radar to maintain a safe distance to the car in front. It can be ordered with Queue Assist, which will stop you if the car in front stops and then resume when you touch the accelerator (the idea is to make life easier in heavy traffic).
You can also order a sunroof, heating and cooling for the seats, and a head-up display – which projects a speedometer and other helpful information onto the windscreen near the driver’s line of sight.
And you can option Configurable Dynamics, which allows you to adjust how directly the car responds to the steering wheel and to your pressure on the accelerator pedal. It also lets you adjust the adaptive suspension, if you have it.
Does any upgrade have a down side?
The R-Sport and S ride a bit less smoothly than the other XEs, because their suspension is stiffer – and because the S rides on lower profile tyres, which have less rubber and air cushioning the wheels from the road. However, the difference is quite subtle, and the sports suspended versions still ride very well.
Of 18 colours available on a Jaguar XE, only two – Polaris White and Ebony – are non-metallic and come at no extra cost. Other colours cost from about $1300 to $2600 extra.
How comfortable is the Jaguar XE?
The Jaguar XE is stylish inside and out. The dashboard layout is classic rather than cutting-edge, but an unconventional rotary gear-selector dial rises from the centre console on start-up. This brand-signature design element is cool to behold, but you might not find it as intuitively simple to operate as a lever gear selector.
The XE is nicer to sit in than a BMW 3 Series, and more traditionally presented than a Lexus IS. But it does not feel quite as classy as a Mercedes C-Class. And the design is not nearly as avant-garde – or as richly trimmed – as interior-quality benchmark the Audi A4, which oozes wow-factor.
The cushion comfort of an XE’s front seats is nevertheless excellent, as is the ergonomic relationship of the driver’s seat, wheel, pedals and minor controls. The smooth leather steering wheel is lovely to hold. The sports front seats in an R-Sport or XE S are not so extreme in their extra bolstering that they compromise comfort.
The Jaguar’s ride comfort is simply superb, no matter which version you choose. It is a very rare car that can deliver crisp driver engagement on such a bump-absorbent suspension. The XE is one of those cars.
The sports suspension beneath an XE R-Sport or S makes it ride a tiny bit more firmly than a Prestige or Portfolio, but the ride-handling balance remains well-judged and they’re very comfy cruisers.
The S, with its adaptive suspension (optional on other XEs as Adaptive Dynamics), rides more comfortably than an R-Sport. But the standard suspension is so good that Adaptive Dynamics is not a must-have.
The XE is very good at suppressing outside sounds, such as engine, tyre and suspension noise and the din from other traffic, which contributes to its serene cruising ability.
What about safety in a Jaguar XE?
Jaguar XE safety high points include its six airbags, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitor, and autonomous emergency braking.
There are two airbags directly in front of the driver and front passenger; one alongside each front occupant to protect the upper body; and a curtain airbag down each side protecting the heads of front and rear occupants.
The camera-based autonomous emergency braking system warns of an obstacle in front of the car – typically a slower vehicle – and will apply the brakes if you do not react. Jaguar says is effective at speeds up to 80km/h, and can apply maximum braking.
The lane-departure warning, also camera-based, monitors lane markings and generates a vibration in the steering wheel if you are drifting – potentially dangerously – out of your lane, a sign of fatigue.
A blind spot monitor warns you, when you indicate to change lanes, if a vehicle is alongside out of view. A sub-system alerts you if a fast-moving vehicle in a neighbouring lane is about to enter a blind spot, while another warns, when you’re reversing, if a jogger, cyclist or other vehicle is crossing behind.
Radar-based active cruise control, which maintains a safe distance to the car in front automatically, can be added to an XE as an extra-cost option.
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Jaguar XE five stars for safety, in January 2016.
I like driving - will I enjoy this car?
Jaguar’s aim with the XE was to build a medium car that was more fun to drive than the alternatives, and the brand has hit the bullseye.
The slick electric-motor assisted power-steering pleases from the very first turn. It’s a lovely, smooth system that gives you an intimate sense of connection with the road - which breeds confidence and brings satisfaction.
The rear-wheel-drive Jaguar is superbly responsive to the steering, accelerator and brake, which lets you adjust your cornering line more precisely than is possible in most medium sedans. This makes the XE more engaging to drive than any other prestige mid-sizer.
The turbo-diesel engine is effortlessly potent and refined, and will please equally at the fuel bowser.
The turbo-petrol four-cylinder, in either 20t or 25t form, is a smooth, punchy and satisfying engine with enough performance to bring out the benefits of the well-sorted suspension.
The supercharged V6 is a powerhouse that transforms the XE S into a seriously quick machine. It’s the same engine that comes in the F-Type sports car.
Even though it is the high-performance XE, the XE S is a bit less eager to turn into corners than other versions, and less sweetly balanced through the corner, because its bigger engine places more weight over the front wheels. And the absence of engine intake and exhaust theatrics might be a disappointment if you’re expecting the F-Type’s rousing soundtrack.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox is a conventional, torque-converter, type – and a very good one. It is smoothly responsive at take-off and quick and slick to change gears. It’s also quite responsive to gear shifter paddles, which adds to the enjoyment.
How is life in the rear seats?
The Jaguar XE is not as easy to get into as most alternatives. If you’re tall, you will have to stoop as you slide into the back seat – because of the sporty, tapering roofline.
Once cocooned inside you’re treated to a comfy seat base and backrest, with good side bolstering to keep you in place in the bends. However, these side bolsters locate the outer occupants nearer the middle of the car, which makes it a squeeze for a third occupant in the centre.
Leg room is below average and headroom is less generous than in all the main alternatives – another result of the coupe-like line of the roof. Toe room is tight, too.
Back-seaters get a fold-down armrest with twin cup-holders, and their own air-conditioning vents.
How is it for carrying stuff?
The Jaguar XE’s 455-litre boot is a bit smaller than that of key alternatives such as the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Lexus IS, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which can all carry 480 litres.
To put them all in context, a large sedan such as an (Australian-built) Holden Commodore hauls about 500 litres of luggage. So, there’s plenty of room in a typical medium sedan, but a bit less in the XE.
The XE’s generous boot aperture makes it easy to load, and the 40-20-40 split folding rear backrest brings the versatility to carry long items while two occupants ride in the back.
Where does Jaguar make the XE?
The Jaguar XE is made in England.
What might I miss that similar cars have?
Perhaps a wagon version, which Audi, BMW and Mercedes offer in an A4, 3 Series and C-Class respectively.
Perhaps a longer warranty: the Lexus IS is covered for four years.
And maybe the poor-weather grip and stability of all-wheel-drive, which you can have in the Audi A4.
You might also miss some of the more extensive active driver aids available in the Mercedes and Audi. For example, the ability to let the car hold your place automatically in stop-start traffic.
I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?
Our reviewers like the 25t R-Sport. It has more power than the 20t R-Sport but uses no more fuel. And its sportier suspension and grippier front seats make it more fun than Prestige and Portfolio XEs – without the expense, increased thirst and other downsides of the rapid XE S.
Are there plans to update the Jaguar XE soon?
Yes. The Jaguar XE went on sale in 2015, and the model received an update to the infotainment and safety equipment among other equipment changes in 2016.
Jaguar has announced a significant update for the 2018 model year, and expects the revised XEs to arrive about November 2017. New and stronger Jaguar-developed turbo-petrol four-cylinder engines (Jaguar calls them Ingenium engines) will replace the Ford-sourced engines in 20t and 25t XEs, and the 3.0-litre V6 in the XE S will become more powerful. Among other changes, a virtual instrument cluster will be available as an option.