GRR

The Goodwood Test: Jaguar XE S

09th October 2017
dan_trent_headshot.jpg Dan Trent

Each week our team of experienced senior road testers pick out a new model from the world of innovative, premium and performance badges, and put it through its paces.

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Heritage

According to some sections of the motoring press, the long-awaited ‘new baby Jag’ was akin to the second coming, despite Jaguar’s traditions being at the more grown-up end of the saloon market. And its previous attempt at downsizing, the X-Type, not going down as one of the greats. The XE is much more like it though and now knuckling down to the hard work of providing a sporting British alternative to reps’ favourites like the BMW 320d and Audi A4. The arrival of the Alfa Romeo Giulia is one inspiration for Jaguar to up the XE’s game, not least with a 39bhp power hike for the sporty XE S driven here. 

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Design

Ian Callum’s run of form as head of Jaguar design has been a strong one, the XE one of those cars that both conforms with the sector norms but also subtly goes its own way. The lights and rear quarter are, perhaps, a little close to the Audi A4 and Alfa Romeo Giulia but the grille and stance are all Jaguar, with fine proportions and some really lovely detailing. As the sporting flagship, this V6 model gets discreet but pleasing visual upgrades, including 19-inch wheels, a body kit and twin exhausts but it’s all pleasingly downplayed. The interior is similarly stylish and distinctive with a sporty driving position and much-improved infotainment options. 

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Performance

While Jaguar has yet to deliver us an XE to go head to head with the BMW M3, Mercedes-AMG C63 or Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio this new and improved XE S is a step in the right direction. 375bhp brings the supercharged V6 up to F-Type S power and it’s comfortably ahead of immediate rivals like the BMW 340i, Mercedes-AMG C43 or Audi S4. And, let’s face it, 0-60mph in 4.8 seconds is fast. But it’s about more than numbers – the XE S delivers its performance in a creamy, luxuriant fashion complemented by a beautifully slick-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox, direct steering, classic rear-driven balance and crisp but composed damping.

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Passion

After the initial excitement of Jaguar delivering a ‘British 3 Series,’ the XE now has to prove it is up to the job. It was always pretty inside and out but the expanded engine range of four-cylinder petrols and diesels, the all-wheel-drive option and the much-improved infotainment add real substance, especially with the optional £2,020 Navigation Pro package fitted to our test car. The main 10-inch touchscreen is as slick as anything offered by rivals, likewise the configurable ‘virtual’ instruments. This XE S is a worthy sporting flagship for the range, leaving room for a proper AMG and M-chasing SVR version between this and the outrageous Project 8.

Price tag of our car

Jaguar XE Sport 3.0 V6 Supercharged £48,045, price as tested £60,030

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