The main screen above it houses Jaguar’s extensive Touch Pro system incorporating infotainment and sat-nav as well as Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. It’s bigger and better than the old model’s system and the menu structure is easy to use, although we had a couple of issues reconnecting the Bluetooth. The redesigned centre console now houses a regular gear shifter, replacing the polarising pop-up dial from the previous XE. Smart move, Jag.
Up front, the gorgeous sports seats offer outstanding levels of support and plenty of adjustability. The white stitching is a nice touch.
The sloping front and rear windscreen, chunky B-pillar and low seating position means visibility is just okay in the XE. Taller folk take note – it’s easy to whack your head when getting out.
Rear-seat space is about average for the segment. Toe room is tight but there’s plenty of knee room, and head room is fine, but anyone over six foot might scrape the headliner. The bucket-style rear outboard seats render the middle seat all but useless – the XE is best used as a four-seater.
The XE’s 410-litre boot is long and shallow, but not as big as the 3 Series (480 litres), and it comes with a space-saver spare tyre.
Jaguar has always had a reputation for producing exceptional driver’s cars and the XE is proof of this. The silky 221kW/400Nm turbo-petrol engine is flawlessly matched with the XE’s chassis and the slick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission, making for linear performance. There is no turbo lag and the XE gathers pace quickly, instilling confidence during overtaking manoeuvres.
The powerplant has an appealing note, which gets sexier when you flick the drive mode to Sport. This mode doesn’t transform the XE like in some other cars – notably the BMW 330i – but it certainly gives it teeth.
The steering offers sharp turn-in and is a little heavily weighted off centre. The XE’s brakes are exceptionally strong, no doubt helped by the bigger brakes fitted to our test car.
Quite simply, the rear-wheel-drive XE is one of the best-handling sedans on the market. It loves a corner and is flat through bends, offering outstanding road-holding ability.
We were a little confused by the ride quality. It absorbed potholes well, but speed bumps around town less so. It’s not jarring, but some road imperfections are more noticeable than others. The 19-inch low-profile tyres have an impact here.
After a week of mixed driving, we recorded fuel use of 7.9 litres per 100 kilometres, a bit more than the official claim of 6.7L.