2015 Jaguar XE review
Paul Murrell’s launch-based 2015 Jaguar XE review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.
IN A NUTSHELL: Few new models are as important for a company as the new Jaguar XE. It leaps into the hard-fought and jealously-defended compact executive car segment.
2015 JAGUAR XE
PRICE from $60,400 (+ORC); WARRANTY three-year, unlimited kilometres; SAFETY five-star ANCAP; ENGINE 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, 147kW @ 5500rpm, 280Nm @ 1750-4000rpm; TRANSMISSION eight-speed auto; BODY 4.67m (L); 1.85m (W); 1.42m (H); WEIGHT 1530kg; THIRST 7.5L/100km (combined).
THE RENAISSANCE OF JAGUAR looks set to continue with the release of its most important new model in recent times. The XE compact sedan was first unveiled at the 2014 Paris motor show and its debut has been eagerly awaited ever since. Now that local prices and specifications have been revealed, and the car already appearing in showrooms, let battle commence.
The most immediate impression of the XE is how closely its design mimics that of the larger, recently updated XF. To some eyes, its tauter, more compact design actually works better without alienating conservative buyers. It gets a long bonnet, rear-set cabin and a swooping, almost coupe-like profile. The signature grille leads the eye into subtle creases along the shoulder line concluding in a much abbreviated rear end.
The XE is 20% stiffer than the XF and 75% aluminium, allowing engineers to achieve an almost 50:50 weight balance and specify double wishbone suspension up front and an integral link rear suspension for the rear with adaptive dampers. This has resulted in a drive experience in what Jaguar claims is akin to an F-Type. Despite being heavier and more complex, the set-up does indeed, on first impressions, deliver better bump absorption and improved handling over its strut front suspension and multiple link at the rear competition.
In a Jaguar first, electric power steering is employed, often criticised for being dead at the straight ahead it isn’t in the XE. According to the brand, engineers dedicated considerable track and road testing time to ensure the EPAS is as near to F-Type standards of feel and feedback as possible. In another nod to the future, Jaguar has liaised with Land Rover to improve low-speed traction control in the XE, with the outcome that the rear-wheel drive car will “get you places other rear-wheel drive cars can’t go”, although defining this as grass or slippery gravel doesn’t sound too taxing.
Aerodynamically, the new XE achieves an impressive 0.26 Cd. A very flat underside makes it slippery, but stable at high speed. Jaguar suggests that many rear diffusers may look the goods, but by the time the air has passed under most cars it has lost most of its energy, dramatically reducing the diffuser’s efficiency.
The XE also gets a full complement of active driver assistance technology, including a forward-facing stereo camera, lane departure warning, blind spot monitor, closing vehicle alert, rear camera with park assist and reverse traffic alert. A full colour head-up display is optional. For maximum clarity it uses laser technology to project onto an infrared reflective screen.
The model line-up has been simplified for the Australian market, with the overseas entry level model (called the Pure) dropped because it doesn’t deliver the kind of experience Jaguar Australia believes buyers expect. There are four trim levels, and four engines.
The entry level car is the Prestige from $60,400 (plus ORC). For that you get the 2.0-litre 147kW/206Nm petrol engine with eight-speed auto (like all variants). The diesel is next up the scale at $62,800 plus ORC (132Kw/430nM). Still in the Prestige, the third option is the 177kW/250Nm 2.0-litre petrol engine. Top of the luxury variants is the Portfolio at $70,400 (plus ORC), powered by the 177kW four-cylinder petrol engine.
The two sport models are the XE R-Sport and the seriously tasty XE S. The R-Sport has Audi’s S Line and Merc’s AMG squarely in its sights. It starts at $64,400 (plus ORC) for the 147kW 8-speed auto petrol four, rises to $68,900 (plus ORC) for the 177kW version and the diesel splits the difference at $66,800 (plus ORC). Now we come to the headliner: the stonking 250kW V6 XE S. This is a true Audi S4 competitor, rather than an alternative to the lovely BMW 335. It’s quick (zero to 100km in 5.1 seconds) and superbly flexible – to all intents and purposes, a four-door F-Type.
Our pick? We’d be placing our order (and quickly) for the bargain-priced R-Sport 147kW model. For a comparatively modest premium, it gets all the good gear and looks just that little bit more special.
Inside, the XE is all Jaguar. You sit low and the bonnet sits high, thrusting out in front of you. In traditional Jaguar fashion, it’s quite snug, although hardly squeezy. The rear seat will be a tight fit for three decent-sized grown-ups although headroom is better than the roofline might suggest, but children may complain about the rising belt line that restricts their outlook.
The door cappings sweep around, XF-style and there’s a simple, twin-pod hooded instrument binnacle ahead of the driver. To be honest, the interior doesn’t live up to the promise of the exterior, at least in the lower-spec models (we’ll bring you more details after we’ve driven the high spec models tomorrow). Boot space defies the short rear end to deliver a useful 485 litres, five more than the BMW 3 Series.
While the drive experience of the entry level petrol and diesel versions is more than acceptable in its class, some buyers may feel that they aren’t getting the full Jaguar experience. The engine note is somewhat subdued and the ambience of top-line Jags isn’t quite delivered. For that, you’ll have to stretch just a little further. But as we’ll tell you after driving the higher-spec models tomorrow, it isn’t a big ask. And at these prices, you should have more than enough left in reserve to tick some of the more desirable options boxes.
While we’ll reserve final judgement on the XE’s ride and handling prowess until we get it drive it across ordinary, everyday roads (launch routes are usually designed to show off the vehicle being launched in the best possible light), our first thoughts are that Jaguar has nailed it with the XE. And it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that it might just be the best driving car in its class.
Along the winding coast road that the launch took in, the XE showed itself to be very sure-footed and well balanced. Road and wind noise are well suppressed, steering is precise and feelsome and the brakes are progressive and strong in their action.
Safety is well taken car of with the XE which gets a five-star ANCAP rating, there’s cruise control with speed limiting function, hill launch assist, brake pad wear indicator, electric park brake, traction and stability controls including torque vectoring by braking, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, seven airbags, hazard warning lights under emergency braking, lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking, pedestrian sensing contact, and blind spot monitor.
2015 Jaguar XE key features:
• 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters
• Jaguar All Surface Progress Control with torque vectoring
• Tyre pressure monitoring system
• 18” ‘Arm’ six spoke alloy wheels
• Front and rear parking sensors with rear camera
• Automatic park assist with parallel and bay parking and parking exit
• Blind spot monitor with reverse traffic detection and closing vehicle sensing
• Lane departure warning with autonomous emergency braking
• Electric power folding mirrors with auto-dimming and reverse auto-dipping
• Keyless start and keyless entry
• Bi-function HID Xenon automatic headlamps
• 8” touch screen infotainment system with navigation and voice control
• 380W Meridian sound system with 11 speakers and subwoofer
• Taurus leather seats with 10×10 way electric adjustment plus 4-way electric
• Memory control for exterior mirrors, steering column and driver front seat
• Dual zone climate control with air quality sensor
• 40:20:40 split fold rear seat
In addition to Prestige standard specification
• 18” ‘Matrix’ seven-twin spoke alloy wheels
• Soft-grain Windsor leather seats with Herringbone perforation and tonal stitching
• Leatherette wrapped instrument panel
• Gloss figured ebony veneer
• Rear window electric sunblind
In addition to Prestige standard specification:
• Sports seats in Luxtec with Technical mesh inserts
• 18” ‘Star’ five spoke alloy wheels
• R-Sport bodykit includes R-Sport front bumper, body coloured side sills and
bootlid spoiler, gloss black window surrounds
• R-Sport branding on steering wheel, sill plates and side power vents
In addition to Prestige standard specification:
• Sports seats Taurus leather with suedecloth inserts
• Adaptive Dynamics with sports suspension
• 19” ‘Venom’ five-twin spoke allow wheels with red brake calipers
• ‘S’ bodykit includes ‘S’ front bumper, body coloured and gloss black side sills,
gloss black rear valance and window surrounds
• Sports leatherette wrapped instrument panel
• ‘S’ branding on steering wheel, sill plates
• Bright finish pedal kit, black headlining and tailpipe finishers
We’ll have a first drive of the performance-oriented Jaguar XE models tomorrow. Stay tuned.