2016 Jaguar XE R-Sport review
Paul Murrell’s launch-based 2016 Jaguar XE R-Sport review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.
IN A NUTSHELL: The XE R-Sport and S are the new Jaguars with plenty of heritage. Traditional Jaguar buyers will be impressed.
2016 JAGUAR XE R-Sport and S
PRICE from $64,400 (+ORC); WARRANTY three-year, unlimited kilometres; SAFETY five-star ANCAP; ENGINE 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, 147kW/280Nm, 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, 177kW/280Nm, 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, 132kW/430Nm; TRANSMISSION eight-speed auto; BODY 4.67m (L); 1.85m (W); 1.42m (H); WEIGHT 1530-1665kg; THIRST 4.2-8.1L/100km (combined).
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THE R-SPORT AND S MODELS are the ones keen drivers want to know about, and we can tell you that they are very good indeed. The more overtly sporting models in the XE range continue a long Jaguar tradition of sporting saloons. While most of what we said about the Prestige and Portfolio models applies, the R-Sport and S are sufficiently different to deserve their own review.
The choice of engines in the R-Sport is the 2.0-litre petrol engine in two different states of tune and a 2.0-litre diesel while the more extreme S gets the 3.0-litre V6 as found in the F-Type. Transmission in all is a ZF eight-speed auto.
The four-cylinder petrol engines (designated the 20t and 25t) share much of their technology with Ford’s EcoBoost, an engine we have always liked despite Ford’s almost criminal failure to promote it in the Falcon.
Driving the 147kW R-Sport (we didn’t get into the 177kW version – we only drove the Prestige with this engine) amply demonstrated the delights of almost perfect 50:50 weight distribution and the superiority of double wishbone front suspension and integral link rear suspension. The electric power steering (a first for Jaguar) proved to be responsive and more communicative than many of its ilk. It was always easy to set the car up for the perfect line through a corner, and to undramatically haul it back into line when something unexpected happened.
Perhaps surprisingly (or put it down to my powers of observation) the R-Sport seemed to transmit less tyre noise into the cabin than the so-called Luxury variants. Like them, wind noise and other road noise was superbly isolated from the cabin.
The mouth-watering S (pictured in the gallery below) gets the full-fruit 3.0-litre supercharged V6 with a headlining 250kW and 450Nm. As you’d expect, it’s a real road-burner, thrusting driver and passenger back into the well-bolstered seats every time the throttle was pressed with real intent. It was just as easy to throw into bends, with the adaptive dampers (exclusive to the S) doing an outstanding job of keeping the wheels in contact with the sometimes less-than-ideal road surface.
Steering feel is, if anything, improved by being slightly weightier than the four-cylinder models. Despite the more overtly sporting intent, the S is a doddle to drive sedately when the occasion calls for it, although that magic performance just keeps begging you to take advantage of it. While buyers of this model won’t have fuel consumption at the top of their wish list, the S gets a claimed consumption of 8.1L/100km. We were having way too much fun to come close to that and managed a less-than-record-setting 10.4L/100km, still acceptable for a large, relatively heavy sporting saloon.
The diesel variant is, not to put too fine a point on it, something of a disappointment. In the Prestige, it goes about its business inoffensively and economically. However, in a car badged R-Sport, we expected something a bit more tingly. And didn’t get it. The exhaust note is subdued and performance leisurely.
The 2.0-litre diesel is a new, and much-awaited Ingenium unit (which will also appear in the Discovery Sport), replacing the previous 2.2-litre engine. The extra weight over the front wheels gives the steering a little more heft, somewhere between the 2.0-litre petrol models and the V6. There was some turbo lag and it didn’t inspire confidence when asked to overtake slower moving vehicles. It appears to have been geared for economy and would happily pull away from as few as 1300 revs. Claimed fuel consumption is 4.2L/100km and in our (admittedly fairly spirited) drive, we achieved 6.2.
The exterior of the R-Sport and S is subtly more impressive than the Luxury models. You’d be hard-put to explain the differences (they include a few additional chrome embellishments, a subtle rear spoiler and different air intake and exhaust outlet treatments), but they add up to a more commanding on-road presence. It’s the same when you step inside. Without actually placing the various models side by side and carrying out a feature by feature comparison, the R-Sport is simply a nicer place to be. The S takes it up another notch altogether.
One thing we didn’t mention in the previous test are the monstrous hinges for the bootlid. Unlike some other cars, they are at least enclosed so are unlikely to damage boot contents, but even Holden did away with these dinosaurs years ago. Despite these hinges, boot space is commendably large and sensibly shaped. The rear seats fold 60:40 but you have to release them from inside the boot.
As with the luxury variants, the sporting XEs also get 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. Safety, as with other variants, is well taken care of with 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.
Now we come to the interesting part. To our mind, the R-Sport model is definitely preferable to the Prestige or Portfolio models. The argument becomes even stronger when the price is taken into account: the 147kW R-Sport is $64,400 (all prices plus ORC) and we think that makes it a real bargain buy, especially when lined up against the equivalent Prestige for $60,400 (all R-sport models are a $4000 premium over their equivalent Prestige models). The 177kW R-Sport is $68,900 ($1500 less than the Portfolio model). The diesel R-Sport starts at $66,800.
So far, so good. But we fail to see the value in the XE S, brilliant though it is. Its $104,200 starting price only makes sense when lined up against the F-Type coupe (the XE is around $15,000 less) or, more cynically, when compared to the obvious German competitors.
To sum up, the XE R-Sport is a welcome return to the days of Jaguar greatness. In fact, with greater reliability, guaranteed resale values and a better after sales and service regimen, Jaguar is stronger than it has ever been.
2015 Jaguar XE R-Sport key features:
In addition to Prestige standard specification:
- Sports seats in Luxtec with Technical mesh inserts
- 18-inch ‘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