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MotorBar - New Car Reviews
Jaguar XE Portfolio 25d AWD

Click to view picture gallery“While Jaguar has been grabbing
  the headlines with its impressive SUV
  line-up — the F-Pace (the fastest-
  selling Jaguar ever), the E-Pace,
  and the all-electric I-Pace that puts
  the British marque at the forefront
  of the electric vehicle revolution

  the brand’s heart is still rooted in
  its sports saloons...”


SPORTS SALOONS PERFECTLY PERSONIFIED by the much-liked XE — 2018-year models enjoy new convenience, safety and driver assist features and, significantly, the fitment of Jaguar's latest in-house Ingenium range of petrol and diesel engines.

When it comes to what goes under the bonnet of their Jag, XE buyers can choose from a trio of 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engines (200, 250 and 300hp) plus a very quick (0-62mph in 5 seconds) supercharged 380hp 3.0-litre V6 and, on the diesel front, 2.0-litre four-pots; 163, 180 and twin-turboed 240hp. Those engines that don't drive through an eight-speed autobox instead come with smooth-changing six-speed manual transmission.

The XE’s classic rear-
drive set-up delivers
brilliant handling that
will keep you engaged,
and tightly on track,
whatever driving mood
you’re in.
Set against other
in-sector top-guns
(Audi A4, BMW 3 Series
and Mercedes C-Class)
the XE is now
the enthusiast’s first
choice...”
We've just spent an entertaining week in the company of the all-wheel-drive version powered by Jaguar Land Rover's all-new Ingenium diesel engine (first seen on the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport) that uses twin turbos to generate a muscular 368lb ft of torque served up from a low 1,500rpm.

Strip off the badges and the XE is still recognisable as a Jaguar: along with sleek proportions there's a dynamic, edgy characteristic to the coupe-like bodyshell. Signature daytime running lights front a strongly-sculpted bonnet and steeply raked windscreen, while down the sides the rising waistline contributes as much to the purposeful profile as it does to the XE's low aerodynamic drag. Finally, a snippet for pop-quizzers — at the XE's tail, a horizontal line intersecting a roundel in the rear lights is a styling feature inherited from that most iconic of all Jaguars, the E-type.

The XE's driving position is spot-on, giving the driver an all-seeing view over the evocative bonnet 'hump'. It helps, of course, that the every-which-way powered seats offer a huge range of adjustability, including lumbar and in/out backrest bolstering for that bespoke fit. The sporty seats, set low for a sports car-like driving position in the airy and involving cabin, are nicely supportive while the rich dark brown Windsor leather upholstery hints at classic Jaguar sports saloons. Three-stage heating can be taken for granted, as too can a triple memory recall for seat, door mirrors and steering wheel settings.

The steering wheel is a multifunction item that enables a 'comfort entry' mode as well as powered in/out and up/down positioning but even without those handy features it's a great rim to hold and run through your palms. Naturally paddle-shifters are fitted to the horizontal bars for those times when you're treating yourself to a taste of Jaguar's 'Art of Performance'.

The wraparound style dash is smart and pleasingly laid out and dominated by a large central touchscreen. Hard buttons around it offer quick first-tier menu jumps. What's particularly nice is the feeling that a lot of time has gone into planning the ergonomics of this cabin so that you don't give using it a second thought.

The deep central tunnel is wide, capped with a broad and comfy armrest that serves two. Press the engine Start button and the rotary gear selector glides silently up out of the central console, setting the scene with an understated dash of theatre; close by is the electric parking brake, the Drive Mode switches for Dynamic and Normal driving styles as well as Snow, Rain, and Ice settings. There are also Drive and Sport settings for the eight-speeder autobox and ahead of the selector is a rubber-lined bed perfect for your smartphone.

Press the engine Start
button and the rotary
gear selector glides
silently up out of the
central console,
setting the scene with
an understated dash
of theatre that’s also
practical — freeing up
plenty of room for
the electric parking brake
and the various
drive mode switches...”
As you would expect from a car wearing Jaguar badges, Comms are comprehensive. The large touchscreen makes a clear, intuitive user interface with comprehensive voice control to make it simpler and safer to use. Owners who like to make use of every feature can customise the home screen for easy multitasking with widgets added to provide shortcuts to specific features, functions, tasks and favourite contacts.

Graphics are sharp and there's immediate access to map data, and maps can be zoomed in and out of using already familiar smartphone 'pinch' and 'pan' gestures. Impressively, the XE can get you to your destination even when the GPS signal has been lost — it does this using an innovative dead-reckoning function: by analysing data from the vehicle's sensors, it can accurately predict the vehicle's location and heading, something that's beyond the capability of smartphone navigation apps.

Another helpful feature is that when you enter a destination the system can check if there's enough fuel in the tank to complete the journey — if not, the driver is alerted and filling stations on the route that are within range are highlighted on the map: a tap is all it takes to add one as a waypoint. And on reaching your destination it's never been easier: once within 200 metres, Arrival Mode will show a 360 interactive street-level view of your destination next to the main navigation display — it can even direct you to the nearest available car parking spaces. Finally, should the unthinkable happen and a collision occur, an SOS call is made automatically to summon the emergency services. A chauffeur? Who needs one.

While it's good to talk, if you're riding shotgun on a long journey it's sometimes better to take in the latest movie or a TV show — the 10-inch dual-view touchscreen allows the driver to view, say, navigation information, while the front passenger is simultaneously watching that hot new blockbuster.

Also especially helpful is the virtual 12.3-inch TFT instrument cluster with four visual themes and full-screen navigation giving the driver further options to see only what they want to — and exactly where they want to see it. Expected items such as Bluetooth, DAB digital radio, a text to speech facility, and helpful apps are all present and correct. For bigger sounds, an outstanding optional 825W Meridian HiFi with 17 speakers (including subwoofer) is available.

Jaguar InControl apps let you seamlessly access smartphone apps through the XE's touchscreen, making it easy to do everything from making a conference call, finding a parking space or booking a hotel room. Some of the most popular apps include iHeartRadio, Glympse, Stitcher, Cityseeker and Parkopedia. And, fast becoming an essential in today's evermore connected world, the XE cabin also functions as a 4G WiFi hotspot enabling up to eight devices to connect to the Internet.

While it’s good to talk,
if you’re riding shotgun
on a long journey it’s
sometimes better to take
in the latest movie or a
TV show — the 10-inch
dual-view touchscreen
allows the driver to
view, say, navigation
information, while the
front passenger is
simultaneously watching
that hot new
blockbuster...”
Jaguar's InControl Remote App allows smartphone users, as well as those using wearable Apple or Android watch, to connect to the car to check the fuel level, unlock/lock the doors, see the XE's location on a map, and even set the climate control and start the engine to get the cabin to the ideal temperature before the journey begins.

Other kit, in addition to that already mentioned, is well up to expectations and includes a dual-zone climate control system, all-round one-shot windows, auto-dimming rearview mirror, auto lights and wipes, ambient interior lighting, rear parking sensors, powerfolding door mirrors (on demand and automatically on leaving and locking), leather trim on doors, lower dash and central tunnel, tinted glass, tyre pressure monitoring, traffic sign recognition, airbags (driver and front passenger and full length side window), heated windscreen, LED headlights plus LED daytime running lights, Hill Launch Assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking, and adaptive cruise control with an intelligent speed limiter and Queue Assist.

The so-called '50 metre feel' is a well-named way of describing that most-important first impression that a car conveys about the way it drives. It's a test the XE aces as it eases smoothly away from rest, all the while feeling as poised and sure-footed as its big cat namesake. The eight-speed automatic gearbox is an unruffled butler, ensuring the 236bhp is served up with satisfying politeness. But even if your right foot isn't quite as well-mannered as it could be, the kick of power still arrives fluently courtesy of twin turbos working harmoniously in sequence to deliver uninterrupted acceleration.

Driven normally it's indulgently relaxing; long distances stretching ahead of you are reined-in effortlessly. These new Jaguar Ingenium diesels are characterised by the rapid build-up of torque from very low revs — all of it very refined as the turbos spin up. The muscular 368lb ft extends is on call across a wide rev-band so there's instant response and strong acceleration whenever it's asked for; even more so when you pull back the left paddle-shift to drop down the gears.

Ask, and this XE will whisk you off the line to pass the 62mph marker post in a clean 6.1 seconds and, given the road, continue on to a limited 155mph. In everyday driving there's never any real need to press it to the redline and the 238bhp XE is a satisfyingly easygoing and easy to drive sports saloon — one of the most pleasing in its class.

To be honest, in a sports saloon the ride is almost as important as the handling. And the XE comes out top of its class here too, ahead of rival German machinery — and that's whether your XE is specced with the optional adaptive suspension that allows the driver to fine-tune suspension settings or the standard springs. Both serve up a first-class ride. Surprisingly, even running on 19-inch alloy wheels doesn't harm the ride quality.

Jaguar saloons
are renowned for their
superior combination
of ride comfort and
engaging driving
dynamics; the XE’s ride
lives up to the rep,
and handling-wise the
Coventry Cat can chalk
up another win over
the competition...”
Jaguar saloons are renowned for their superior combination of ride comfort and engaging driving dynamics; the XE's ride lives up to the rep, and handling-wise the Coventry Cat can chalk up another win over the competition. For a start, its body control and steering — giving its driver immediate and predictable directness, natural weighting and a connected feel — are better to what you'll find in many of today's sports cars.

Incidentally, the XE's aluminium-intensive monocoque makes use of the same platform as the XF and Range Rover Evoque. And with three-quarters of the XE's 4.6-metre-long body weight being accounted for by aluminium, it's no surprise that it feels agile.

Jaguar's XE might be the smallest Jaguar saloon but its classic rear-drive set-up delivers brilliant handling that will keep you engaged, and tightly on track, whatever driving mood you're in. Not that it matters if you've already made your choice — and chosen the Jag! — but set against other in-sector top-guns (Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class) the XE is now the enthusiast's first choice.

Further heightening its road-holding abilities is torque vectoring by braking, state-of-the-art tech first seen on the F-type coupe and now standard-fit on the XE. In a nutshell this mitigates understeer by lightly braking individual inner wheels to keep the car on the optimum line through corners. You'll never notice it working but you will appreciate the more rewarding driving experience. Of course, the other thing you'll be more than glad of are the excellent brakes — supported by ventilated discs front and rear.

Our week with the car could have been marred by the snow and ice but luckily we were piloting the AWD version and it was reassuring to 'feel the grip'. The XE's torque on-demand all-wheel drive system not only delivers all-weather traction and performance in bad weather but in normal conditions maintains the car's rear-wheel drive handling balance and ensures that steering feel remains uncorrupted. Power is only diverted to the front wheels when needed; for instance, to help mitigate oversteer during fast cornering.

If you're thinking that all this performance comes at the cost of economy you'd be mistaken — while not hanging about and for much of our test using all-wheel drive on the slippery snow-caked roads, even in the dicey conditions we still averaged a wallet-friendly 48.6mpg which makes the official combined figure of 54.4mpg seem very achievable and impressive given the performance.

Despite its sporting DNA, most XE's rear seats will likely see as much use as the fronts. And why not? It's a good spot to relax, with a central armrest set at just the right height, comfortably inclined backrests and ample room for legs, knees and feet along with, despite the rear seat bases being set higher than those in the front, decent headroom.

High on the safety list is
the head-up display that
projects high-contrast
colour images for vehicle
speed, turn-by-turn
navigation instructions
and traffic signs directly
in your line of sight.
Traffic Sign Recognition
also keeps the driver
informed as to speed
limits, even those in
force temporarily for
roadworks, etc...”
Add to that the good views out and quality ambiance and there's plenty of reasons to travel in the XE's back seats. And Yes, a third in the centre spot is also doable. Furthermore, if you plan on carrying more that the 455-litre boot will hold there's always the option of choosing the 40:20:40 split-fold rear seat arrangement that also offers a through-loading feature.

While the bootlid already benefits from powered opening and closing (it works fast and can be operated either by the dash button or the key fob), there is also the option — and extra convenience — of gesture control (just wave your foot under the corner of the rear bumper to open or close it). And if you have a need to tow but not all the time then you might like to specify the electrically deployable tow bar — it rises into place for towing duty at the press of a button.

High on the safety list — because you see it all the time — is the head-up display that projects high-contrast colour images for vehicle speed, turn-by-turn navigation instructions and traffic signs directly in your line of sight. Traffic Sign Recognition also keeps the driver informed as to speed limits, even those in force temporarily for roadworks, etc. Also nicely laid-back is the warning should you exceed the posted limit — a ring around the speed limit image flashes discreetly.

In addition, the latest XE models benefit from an extensive range of assistance systems and intelligent safety features including such things as blind spot monitoring with Closing Vehicle Sensing that not only warns if another vehicle is approaching in your blind spot but will counter-steer your vehicle back into its lane if it detects a collision risk with the other vehicle as you indicate to change lane.

Autonomous Emergency Braking, now with Pedestrian Detection — if a collision is likely, the brake system is primed and the driver receives a visual warning in the instrument cluster and the head-up display; if no action is taken, full braking force is triggered and the brakes automatically applied.

Add to that guidance when manoeuvring in tight spots along with a surround camera system enabling 360-degree overhead views plus an Adaptive Speed Limiter — an intelligent technology which increases/decreases your pre-set vehicle speed when the on-road speed limits change.

Slotting into parking bays is also easy-peasy in you tick the necessary box: semi-automated park-assist functions are available that enable the XE to steer itself during both parallel and bay parking manoeuvres. A Reverse Traffic Detection system also makes backing out of parking spaces less worrisome as it alerts the driver if there are any out-of-sight approaching vehicles.

Night driving in the XE is also a whole lot more relaxing thanks to intelligent headlight control that lets you stay on main beam longer thanks to fast-acting automatic switching that goes back to dipped beam the moment oncoming traffic is detected.

Is the XE truly a match for the Germans? That's the $64,000 question potential buyers want answered. And the answer: Absolutely. The XE is the driver's choice, effortlessly blending comfort and grace with a 'big cat growl' and engaging dynamics. ~ MotorBar
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Jaguar XE Portfolio 25d AWD | 40,775
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 6.1 seconds | Test Average: 48.6mpg
Power: 236bhp | Torque: 368lb ft | CO2: 137g/km

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