Jag's new XE premium saloon set to put the cat among the pigeons

The new Jaguar XE can give German premium models a run for their money
The new Jaguar XE can give German premium models a run for their money

Jaguar XE 2.0D Prestige

THERE have been sightings of a new big cat on the loose — and it’s prowling the streets in search of its favourite meal.

It eats mainly Germans for main course and has ambitions of being the number one predator in the mid-size premium car market.

This animal we talk of is the new Jaguar XE, a real beauty and the beast that looks set to break the grip currently held by Audi, BMW and Mercedes on the mid-size premium market.

Jaguar has been getting a lot of good press of late, with the new XF, and especially F-Type sports car getting rave reviews and bringing a lot of attention to the British car maker (currently owned by Indian Tata motors).

The SUV end of the company, Land Rover, has long been a big player in the market, and Jag is adding its very own SUV, in the form of the F-Pace, but now, Jaguar has a car that can mix it with the likes of the A4, 3-Series and Mercedes C-Class, and in many cases, better them.

If we take a look at Jaguar’s previous attempt at cracking this segment, it was doomed to fail.

The X-Type model, which was basically a Ford Mondeo under the skin (Ford took over Jaguar in 1998), failed miserably against the Germans, and the BMW 3-Series has dominated the segment ever since.

The X-Type made it difficult for Jaguar, putting a financial burden on them – this led to Ford selling the brand, and Land Rover, to Indian giants Tata Motors.

Thankfully though, Tata has invested in both Jaguar and Land Rover and we are reaping the benefits with cars like the XJ and F-Type and new Evoque and Range Rover.

There must have been a bad taste left in Jaguar’s mouth over the failed X-Type, and in the new XE, Jaguar now has a car that can compete on every level with the class-leaders.

We drove the new XE at the Irish launch, and truth be told, we weren't expecting anything ground-breaking, we had a feeling the Jaguar XE would be a car that would just fit in with the rest and be a good all-rounder.

We were wrong, and this was only strengthened when we got to take it for a week-long test. It’s a very, very good car, and my impression at the end of the week, was that we really found it hard to fault.

The new 2.0 Ingenium diesel in our test car was the more powerful version, with 178bhp and a whopping 430Nm of torque. It felt extremely lively and it made overtaking a breeze.

It was a little noisy on a cold start-up but settled down well and was very refined cruising on the motorway.

Thankfully, Jaguar went with the rear-wheel drive set-up, and this gives the XE serious credentials in the driving stakes. We didn’t think the 3-Series could be bettered for overall engagement and driving ability, but the new XE outs it up to the BMW and betters the Merc and Audi on dynamics.

The suspension airs on the sport side, which is great for a twisty section taken vigorously, but equally, it’s comfortable on the long motorway hauls, where the XE will spend plenty of time.

The new XE comes well equipped, with standard features like cruise control, climate control and touch-screen infotainment system. 

We are big believers in premium cars having an auto transmission, it makes the car feel more prestigious, and it makes more sense in driving terms, as it allows you to enjoy the journey without continuously working the gears.

The eight-speed auto in the Jag was very slick, with quick changes in sport mode and smooth in transition when in normal mode.

The new XE is a stylish car in many areas, the front-end is sporty and stylish, with the familiar Jag grille standing out, but we found the back to be a little bland.

The interior is neat and well finished and the mechanics are spot on. If Jaguar wants to break up the German party in the mid-size premium, then this new XE is the car to do it.

Model: Jaguar 2.0D Prestige
Price: From €37,995 (test car €56,965) Tax: Band A4 €200 
0-100kph: 7.8s Max speed: 228kph
Economy: 4.2l/100km (claimed)
Boot capacity: 455 litres

Paul Keown & Robbie Farrell