It’s a car that’s been a long time coming. Jaguar’s model range has thus far been two sedans and a sportscar, and that’s never been enough to keep up with the German Joneses on sales numbers. There will be an SUV coming later, but first there’s this, the new XE. A crucial model to win Jaguar more customers in the increasingly popular and high-volumes entry luxury segment, alongside the the 3-series, A4 and C-class. It’s a car Jag just has to get right.
Jaguar XE is the first launch of the company in 2016 that shares most of its design cues from its larger siblings XJ and XF. It is available in only two variants – PURE and PORTFOLIO. With this model, the British luxury automaker has stepped into the entry level sports segment. Being one of its economical models, it competes against the likes of Audi A4, Mercedes Benz C-Class and Volvo S60 in this segment. Powering this machine is a 2.0-litre petrol engine that gets two states of tunes. Of which, one of them produces a whopping power of 197bhp, while the other even goes higher with 237bhp. Both these are paired with an efficient 8-speed automatic transmission gear box that ensures swift shifting of gears. Like all its models, this one too owns a stunning design and style, which makes it stand out among the crowd. The sculpted bonnet, bright headlamps and the modish alloy wheels – all these are the key highlights on its outside. Its plush interiors does need a special mention as this is where, most of the advanced equipments are housed. Some of these include the multi functional steering wheel, instrument panel, adjustable seats, navigation system and many such aspects. Talking about safety, this vehicle comes packed with numerous features that ensure high level of protection. It has the dynamic stability control that improves understeer control and monitors its dynamic behavior. Also, it has the unique All Surface Progress Control (ASPC) that enables it to deal with low traction situations irrespective of weather and road conditions.
The sporty demeanour of the exterior is reflected inside, but you also see some elegant touches from the bigger XJ limousine incorporated here. The most obvious is the ‘Riva Loop’ – a continuous band of trim that runs around the rear of the dashboard and unites the two front doors. The multi-layered door pads take a little getting used to, with pockets, grab handles, seat controls and window controls placed at four seperate levels, but it’s quite a unique-looking design. You’ll love the way the dash is laid out though – simple and classy, with a wide central stack incorporating AC controls and the InControl touchscreen, culminating in Jaguar’s signature rising ‘hockey puck’ gear selector, which will be a great novelty in this segment.
The seats look rather simple, but slip into them and you’ll find they’ve been beautifully engineered. Snug, well cushioned, widely adjustable and with incredible support, it’s easy to get comfortable here. What’s also easy is seeing out the front of the XE even if you’re short, thanks to a nice and low dash that lets you see the end of that long bonnet over the thick steering wheel and racy dials. Quite the opposite is the visibility behind – the rear deck is high and the windscreen small, meaning you only see the tops of cars coming towards you. Get used to using the wing mirrors and the rear-view camera, which, incidentally, is not available on the ‘Pure’ trim. Quick mention has to be made of Jaguar’s new InControl touchscreen system, standard on all XEs. It’s a huge improvement on the ancient system you’ll find in other Jags and Land Rovers, with better functionality and smoother, quicker operation. However, it’s still a little off the high benchmark set by the likes of BMW’s i-Drive and Volvo’s new touchscreen.
As for the all-important back seat, Jaguar seems to have taken a leaf out of BMW’s book to maximise space here. The bench is placed low to get enough headroom out of the low roofline, which is also scooped out a little. This makes ingress and egress a little tedious, and it’s not helped by the really long rear door and the fact that the seat is placed a bit far back in the cabin too – you effectively have to climb around the rear wheel arch. Once you’re sat here, though, it’s a pretty solid experience – good thigh support, good legroom and surprisingly decent headroom too. But a tall, wide transmission tunnel, big rear AC vent and a heavily contoured seat make this all-but-unusable for a third passenger. The flat, wide boot is very usable and the best part is, unlike some rivals, you get a space-saver spare tyre tucked under the floor.
There is no doubt that this brand new machine will leave you mesmerized with its impressive looks and amazing style. In short words, the XE is definitely a visual treat to our eyes. It is muscular in stance, has aerodynamic structure, and carries elegance as well as athleticism that attract a lot of attention.
The most eye-catching element on its front fascia is the radiator grille that gets a thick chrome surround. Its design has been inspired by the F-TYPE, which gives it a sporty appeal. Its large perforated air dam ensures the powerful motor remains in optimum temperature in all conditions.
It sleek bonnet looks simply attractive with distinctive lines that flow downwards thus, displaying the machine’s innate dynamism.
In the PURE variant, you will find the bright halogen lamps integrated in its trendy headlight cluster. While, the top-spec trim is offered with bi-function HID Xenon headlamps along with headlamp power wash function. The LED daytime running lights in this cluster further add a striking look.
Its side profile is equally stunning. Adding style to it is a thin character line that stretches along with its overall length, starting from the front bumper to the rear boot lid. Another attraction are the side vents with “Jaguar” embossed chrome frame that defines its sporting character.
Stylish outside mirrors on its sides come in body color and they are further integrated with side turn blinkers. The B-pillars are in black, while the chrome frame or otherwise called a sprung arc flows, surrounds the side window glass and ends at the A-pillar.
This huge machine runs on a set of 17 inch, twin spoke sparkle silver alloy wheels that further adds style and elegance to its sides.
Talking about the boot space, this sedan gets about 485 liters luggage storage capacity, which is quite good than what its competitors are offering.
In a word, brilliant. Ever since the XF, Jaguar has been challenging BMW, segment by segment, as the maker of fun-to-drive luxury cars, and though we haven’t had a chance to drive it head to head with a 3-series yet, we strongly feel this might be the case with the XE too. A few significant things to note about this car are its aluminium intensive monocoque chassis – a segment first, its trick integral link suspension that allows greater stiffness without compromise to comfort, and its electric steering – Jaguar’s first ever. These all have a huge bearing on the way the XE drives.
But first, the engine. It’s the same one we’ve sampled in the XF and the XJ, and even in those big cars, its 237bhp and 34.67kgm felt ample. As you can imagine then, it makes the small, light XE feel like a rocketship. Flatten the throttle and the punch you get is just immense, and it just courses on a relentless wave of torque to the redline thereafter. It even makes a pleasing buzz at higher revs. Even in mundane city driving, there’s enough pep low down in the rev range to make smooth progress, and for the most part, the eight-speed ZF gearbox does a good enough job. It does, however, hesitate sometimes when you want a sudden change of pace at part throttle – it will suddenly shift down, giving you a huge hit of power when all you need is a small increase in pace. This can be worked around if you use the shift paddles, however, and it’s significantly less pronounced in Sport mode.
Apart from this Sport mode for the engine and gearbox, there’s also four drive modes you can choose from – Eco, Normal, Dynamic and Winter – which affect the steering, engine and AC performance. There’s also stop-start for eking out that little bit more fuel from your drive.
Where the XE really impresses is the chassis. Jaguar really seems to have nailed the ride-handling balance with this car, and it works with the maturity of something far more luxurious and expensive. You could put some of this down to the choice of 255/55 R17 tyres, but credit where it’s due is to the suspension. For one, it rounds off sharp edges really well and barely thunks and thuds at all, and it does this while still riding completely flat at high speeds.
More than that, Jaguar has absolutely nailed its first ever crack at electric power steering. The amount of weight and feedback you get from the wheel makes it feel as good as any of the old-school hydraulic units we’ve experienced on all the company’s previous models. It’s perhaps not the quickest steering rack, but it makes up for that by letting you feel every millimetre of lock as you twirl it, and body control too is properly impressive. This all makes the XE an absolute delight from behind the wheel.
Going on driving impressions alone, yes, you absolutely should. This is one of the best driving sedans around, and it’s not even an all-out performance model. And it manages to do this while being incredibly comfortable, luxurious and well equipped too. It perhaps doesn’t have the outright space of some rivals, but it’s more than enough by the segment average.
Right from engine performance to the assistance systems, everything is exceptional in this brand new XE sedan. Having said that there are still a few attributes, which are already being offered by its competitors. However, this can become a preferred choice especially for those buyers who prefer style, looks and performance above everything.
The catch is the price. At Rs 46.5 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the XE 25t Portfolio is considerably more expensive than its rivals, coming perilously close to the segment above. For that you get a strong and punchy engine, brilliant dynamics and all the equipment you could want. In this segment of powerful, compact, rear-driven petrol luxury sports sedans, however, driving pleasure is paramount, and for that reason, we would say the extra spend is worth it. But if it just doesn’t make economic sense to you, the 198bhp ‘Pure’ version loses some equipment, but still gives you most of the XE experience at a far more reasonable Rs 39.9 lakh.
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