2017 THE NEW JAGUAR XE

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The XE represents a renewed push into the compact sports sedan arena following X-Type misadventures under Ford ownership. With Tata Motors taking control, Jaguar revisited the segment with the all-new XE in 2015, long after X-Type production ceased in 2009.

THE NEW JAGUAR XE


The XE now very much looks the part of modern premium compact sports sedan. Rear-wheel drive, new suspension setup, stiffened and lightened chassis and near 50:50 weight distribution, are all essential ingredients to bring the fight to German models currently dominating the sector – BMW's 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi's A4.

Signs are promising, more than 75 per cent of the XE is lightweight aluminium, and the exotic double-wishbone front suspension is taken directly from the F-Type sports car. Jaguar says its rear “integral link “suspension is more effective than multi-link. Predominant use of aluminium along with magnesium improves handling and transforms performance. The ultra-strong steel reinforced, recycled aluminium, monocoque frame is lighter but stiffer, very collision safe.

Wind resistance Cd 0.26 delivers Jaguar's most aerodynamic car ever, quickening it whilst reducing fuel and emissions.

Bi-xenon headlights, underscored by LED daytime running lights meeting large grille, evoke strength. Large air intakes and swollen bonnet allude to great grunt down under. Side-on, stretched bonnet, coupe-like profile and sloping roofline generate sports saloon styling. The coupe look is achieved at the expense of rearward visibility, which is not great. Neither is rear headroom for tall people. All seats are comfortable, but more so in the front, which get powered and well-bolstered seats.

There is choice from four advanced engines, the 2litre all-new highly efficient Ingenium diesel, to F-TYPE derived 3.0litre V6 supercharged petrol engine.

The four variants, Prestige, Portfolio, R-Sport and S, offer a wide array of luxury, safety and driver assist premium specifications, including keyless entry/start, sophisticated electrically assisted power steering, 8-inch colour touchscreen, with voice control, 11 speaker Meridian Audio with subwoofer, blind spot monitor with reverse traffic detection and closing vehicle sensing, front and rear parking sensors with rear camera, dual-zone air-conditioning with rear vents, auto high beam, dynamic stability and traction control, interior mood lighting, 3 rear headrests, front/rear 12 V power sockets, powered front seats and powered boot lid and six airbags.

Our test car 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol version produces 147kW and 320Nm. In terms of pace, this engine is more than adequate, with respectable 6.8 second 0-100. Although not super powerful, it's smooth, linear and decent-sounding, without the trashy roar of some 4-cylinder units.

The transmission is a low weight, driving-style-adaptive version of the respected 8 speed ZF Auto, as in the BMW 3 Series, renowned for smooth operation, fast shifts and uncanny ability to predict right gear for situation.

The 2.0-litre car has excellent ride and steering, composed and fluid on the move, reacting impeccably to steering input. The suspension setup Jaguar's designers chose as best for purpose does a fine job of damping noise and harshness from tough tarmacs, and also results in high steering feedback and handling accuracy. Handling is also greatly assisted by Torque Vectoring, which subtly breaks individual wheels to improve steering. Even in Dynamic mode (firms up steering and damping and sharpens the throttle), the ride is never harsh. Jaguar has gone to great lengths to balance precise handling with plush ride, and it shows. Jaguar’s first-ever electric power-assisted steering is a gem, beautifully weighted with great consistency, precision and feel.

The XE's power is ample although the engine note on city driving and start-stop traffic sounds muted. On the highway with fast flowing traffic it makes a delightful growl, showing agility and aggressive ability that run counter to first impressions. Swinging hard into corners the rear-wheel drive car can exhibit typical oversteer.

Additional to the usual safety kit in this segment, Jaguar adds a new layer called All Surface Progress Control. The XE is the first Jag with a low speed cruise control system which can manage handling of some very demanding low traction situations, a very handy feature distilled from decades of Jaguar Lander Rover experience with off-road traction systems.

The XE delivers a spirited drive when called on, rewarding those willing to try a previously somewhat neglected, but now opening more eyes, contender.

2.0-litre i4 turbo diesel

‘20d’ with 132kW/430Nm and 4.2 L/100km, CO2-111g/km

‘20t’ delivering 147W/280Nm

‘25t’ delivering 177kW/340Nm

3.0-litre V6 supercharged petrol 250kW/450Nm

Dimensions mm: L 4672 W 2075 H 1416 WB 2835,

Turning Circle 11.66m

Kerb weight kg: from 1530

Tank: about 60 litres, Boot: 450 litres

Safety: 6 airbags

Price: from about $70k for base Prestige model to $115k for the XE S

Warranty: 3 years/unlimited Km

Capped Servicing: $1,100 to $1,350 over 3 years