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Chequered flag line Why less is more with Jaguar's new XE beast

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Jaguar XE Chequered Flag

Jaguar XE Chequered Flag

Jaguar XE Chequered Flag

Jaguar - XE

When can you actually pay less for something but get more product? It's a rare economic move that at first doesn't make sense but the deeper you dive things start to get a little clearer.

Jaguar now has a Chequered Flag line on four of their best selling models. The XF, the E-Pace, the F-Pace and today's review car…the XE.

This is the third most popular Jaguar in Ireland this year (behind the utterly brilliant E-Pace and F-Pace) so I was excited to get behind the wheel.

At first glance you might not notice much different from any of the other XE lines available (S, SE, HSE) apart from the slick black alloys. But the beauty of having this extra badge on the back means you get to drive off in an XE with loads of improvements with a lot of the onboard tech, the interior design and some lovely finishings on the seats.

And here's the amazing thing…it's cheaper than some of the higher specked XEs you can buy. But why? The thinking is that Jaguar has decided to restrict a lot of options on the Chequered Flag line. Paint colours are limited to just a handful for example and inside finish choices are the same.

And when you combine that with having a new level of as-standard kit inside all of a sudden Jaguar are not ordering warehouse-sized orders of equipment and options to give customers whatever they want.

For this car you can't just choose from any of the company's impressive feature list. It's not a one-size fits all…but it's not far off that.

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And if you are willing to roll with that lack of choice then you have yourself an opportunity to buy one of the slickest saloon cars I have driven for a while with all kinds of fun gadgetry and for a reasonable price.

My test car for the week (last September before the level 5 lockdown) was the 2.0 D 180PS 8-speed automatic which would cost me €47,005 to own myself. It comes in what JLR call 'Eiger Grey' (honestly where do the names for the colours come from?) and the interior was bedecked in light oyster grained leather (that name actually makes sense).

The new level of as-standard means I would get the Black Exterior Pack with the 18" Matrix gloss black alloy wheels, the 14-Way electric heated front seats, illuminated metal tread plates, the aforementioned leather upholstery, configurable ambient lighting (bit of a gimmick but the kids loved it), a 10" Touch-Pro Duo screen and front and rear parking sensors with a reverse camera (these can be a big add-on cost nowadays).

The options that someone in HQ decided should go in my test car were the space-saver spare wheel (very reasonable at €285) and wireless charging (a must for only €185).

Luckily Jaguar didn't go nuts on a restyled facelift considering they only made a few tweaks last year. It is still as good looking as it was five years ago, in my opinion, when they launched it to rival the likes of the big German peers like the A4, C-Class and 3 Series.

The front view of the XE almost makes it look bigger than it really is. Designed with lovely headlights cushioning the modern-style powerful grille is a joy to look at and the side profile shows of the almost-top-heavy design that tricks you (if you are buying any of the basic specs) into thinking you are buying a racing-car-fast car. But as I've mentioned already, with the Chequered Flag version you actually are driving a very fast car.

The all-LED rear lights are lovely and slim and now have their own signature light graphic and dynamic indicators.

Inside everything feels premium. There's a sense of belonging. I don't know many Jag owners personally but I get the impression after only a week in this that I had a temporary membership of a club.

It oozes class, largely helped by the delicious finish on the leather seats. Fixed right smack bang in the middle of your eyeline is an equally-stunning steering wheel that is as nice to have between your grips as it is to look at.

The touch screen is very easy to navigate and Jaguar have found the perfect balance of what should be accessed through the screen and what controls deserve their own rotary knobs (both delicately designed mind you).

To drive it is very easy and comfortable and although they don't really shout about it - I think the naturally-weighted steering was one of the smoothest I've driven in a long time.

Driving position makes sense with a lot of possible adjustments where necessary. I took the family out too for a few drives and all four of us felt comfortable and safe. As you would expect from a brand like Jaguar.

Will it and should make more of a dent into the German premium sales? Maybe it should. It never once disappointed me over a long busy week behind the wheel. And any time I thought to myself that 'maybe Jag could haven upped their game here' with a little detail here or there I kept reminding myself of the asking price!

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