Jaguar has refreshed its baby saloon, the XE, which sits below the XF and XJ. While there are new bumpers and LED lights outside, and a curtailed engine offering, it’s inside the car where the noticeable differences lie.
The entry-level S trim now includes electrically adjustable leather seats, Apple CarPlay and parking sensors front and rear, with a rear parking camera, too. That explains the £2,000 extra you must pay for an XE now against outgoing models, and is a salutary reminder when comparing car prices to check what equipment you get for the price.
The XE comes with a large touchscreen and analogue dials behind the steering wheel as standard; specify the Touch Pro Duo system and you’ll get two digital screens, one above the other, and a digital screen for the driver dials. The sharp graphics are taken from the electric I-Pace SUV, so offer the latest technology from JLR.
You can also specify the company’s ClearSight system, which transforms the rear-view mirror from a traditional reflection into a relay from a rear-mounted camera, when you flick a switch on the mirror. It first appeared last month on the Evoque and is a startlingly good invention, giving you a much wider view, and allowing you to see what’s behind even when the parcel shelf is stacked.
The trim levels and engine offerings have been simplified: customers can now choose the D180 diesel, P250 petrol or P300 petrol, and S, SE or HSE trim, alongside rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. On top of that, you can specify the R-Dynamic badge, which used to infer a more sporty suspension set-up, but is now simply an extra design pack. Out, too, goes the six-speed manual offering, meaning it’s just the eight-speed automatic transmission on offer.
The pick of the bunch is the P250 S R-Dynamic. Both that and the P300 use a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine, the badge denoting the horsepower on offer. While the P300 is very nice, the extra expense is not worth the extra acceleration: the P250 does a great job of sprinting past slow-moving vehicles, with a lovely immediate pick-up from the throttle, giving a 0-60mph sprint time of 6.2 seconds.
On the move, the car is impressively quiet and smooth-riding: perhaps only the BMW 3 Series can compete in this class on noise and vibration elimination.
Neither the steering nor the suspension have changed: Jaguar’s adaptive dynamics package gives you the option of toggling between eco, comfort and dynamic modes, and there are noticeable differences with each setting. Chassis dynamics have always been one of Jaguar’s strengths.
We talked at length to Jaguar’s chief designer, Ian Callum, about whether saloons still have a role to play for private motorists (the fleet business remains the bulk buyer). He’s a fan, and so are we: the XE is a great looking car, with a huge boot and plenty of room for four adults (although leg room starts to get a little pressured if everyone is 6ft). If you’re a family of four, with children who no longer need access to big buggy systems that require a wide-opening tailgate, then go and try a couple of saloons. You get much better handling than an SUV can provide, and in many cases a better looking vehicle. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Stat attack: Jaguar XE P250 S R-Dynamic
Price from: £33,915
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol