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Jaguar's XE takes on the Germans

04.05.2016

The compact luxury car segment has always been a highly contested segment with the three German brands, BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz being the main players.

Jaguar has recently joined this fight with its XE model. Is it as good as the others? I spent a few days with it to find out. 

First things first - the looks: The Jaguar XE sure does look good. In fact I’m finding it hard to find a new Jaguar that doesn’t look good these days. The XE features sharp, aggressive and angled styling. It also takes some styling inspiration from the XF model. The XE’s strong, sculpted bonnet and focused front-end create a taut, muscular appearance. The car looks good from just about every angle but I do have one issue…the lower apron at the rear. On the 2.0-litre diesel that I drove, the exhaust tips have been left plain. They look like those found in a Citi Golf. I would have liked it if they featured chrome tips. 

Inside the Jaguar XE: The dashboard sweeps elegantly into the door trims and this creates somewhat of a cockpit-like feeling. You sit low and as one would expect, you are cocooned in luxury. The dashboard features an eight-inch touchscreen, which takes centre stage in the sweeping curves of the instrument panel. The infotainment system has been upgraded and is now nicer to use. It’s not as involved or as sophisticated as that offered by the Germans, but I found it simple to use. Space inside is rather impressive however, the boot is somewhat small. Push the Start button that pulsates like a heartbeat and Jaguar’s unique rotary drive selector rises up from the centre console. 

Introducing Ingenium: Jaguar introduced a range of engines for the XE models, known as Ingenium. I got to experience the first Ingenium engine in the Jaguar XE 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel, which has an output of 132kW and 430Nm. It might not feel as 'alive' as the diesels offered by the Germans, but it is incredibly frugal. I averaged 7.0-litres per 100km over my time with the car. I also found that it makes good use of that 430Nm. You can easily be well over the speed limit yet under 2 000rpm. This is also due to the new eight-speed automatic gearbox, yes, eight! 

The ride quality: This is impressive and comfortable with some dynamic attributes. One can choose between different driving modes, however, I found that Eco mode spends too much time looking for the right gear and Dynamic mode holds on to a gear for too long. Being a diesel, I decided it was best to leave it in Comfort mode. 

All in all the Jaguar XE does seem to have what it takes to compete with the Germans. It looks better than any of them, in my opinion. It has a quality interior and the on-road dynamics and comfort levels are all there. Unfortunately the price is quite steep compared to its rivals from BMW, Mercedes and Audi. I suspect that it’s because of our very weak Rand.  

Article written by Justin Jacobs
04.05.2016
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