New Jaguar XE review

Jaguar XE
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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Once you’ve experienced a compact executive car like the Jaguar XE, you won’t want to go back.

By motoring journalist Tim Barnes-Clay. Follow on Instagram @tbarnesclay.

A jaguar is a muscular and compact animal – but it’s not as big as a lion or tiger. This description of the largest cat in the Americas suits the XE, perhaps more than any other Jaguar model before it.

In SE R-Dynamic guise, as tested here, the car has an aggressive kerbside profile, and its “face” is permanently set in “hunter” mode. In any driver’s rear-view mirror, the XE, although not as sizable as some rivals, could well be perceived as a fearsome presence.

It isn’t hot air, though. The XE “walks the walk” as well as “talks the talk”. With 250 horses under the bonnet, the 2.0-litre SE R-Dynamic is capable of 0-62mph in a mere 6.5 seconds, and its top speed is 155mph.

“Emotional drive”

This Jaguar is an emotional drive, then. You’ll be in the XE for its looks and power – but not necessarily its practicality. In the front, it’s relatively spacious, and the seats are supportive, while the rear is a tad cramped and claustrophobic. Don’t get me wrong, four adults can fit in the car, but it’s better for a couple of kids in the back.

The XE is far more than just about your status on a business commute. It is about the ease of overtaking and the effortlessness of a motorway journey. Any winding country lanes are fun, too – but why would you risk getting your beautiful Jag mud-spattered? This is a car you’ll want to look after and have sat, gleaming, on your drive or in the company carpark.

Agile, safe and efficient

Indeed, the XE deserves pampering more than ever this year, having had an update during 2019. It now boasts an enhanced exterior design and an all-new luxurious interior. Technologies, including a “ClearSight” rear-view mirror, using a rear-facing camera, have been added to the mix, too.

And, despite the space limitations, the XE’s handsomely crafted all-new cabin features the use of premium veneers and soft-touch materials. What’s more, a new steering wheel, shared with the all-electric I-PACE, features concealed-until-lit graphics and switches for intuitive control of key functions. The influence of Jaguar’s two-seater sports car is also unmistakable as both the JaguarDrive Control switch and SportShift gear selector, shared with the F-TYPE, are on the improved centre console.

More than anything, though, the SE R-Dynamic’s lightweight body structure plays a significant role in the car’s agility, safety and efficiency. Aluminium makes up 75 per cent of its body and combines with proven rear-wheel drive for the earlier-mentioned performance.

This is a compact executive car that’s a great alternative to a BMW 3-Series or an Audi A4, then. In many ways, it’s better, because you’ll stand out from those ubiquitous competitors – and, believe me, once you’ve had a Jag, you won’t want to go back.

Fast Facts (Jaguar XE SE R-Dynamic 2.0 250ps Petrol RWD Auto – as tested):

  • Max speed: 155mph
  • 0-62 mph: 6.2 sec
  • Combined mpg: 36.2
  • Engine layout: 1997cc, 4-cylinder turbo petrol
  • Max. power (PS): 250
  • CO2: 159g/km
  • Price: £36,975