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7/10
Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review:Jaguar XE

£31,245£148,180
7/10
Overall verdict
Comfy and quiet yet brilliant to drive. The handling-nerd's car in this class
 

For: 

A rare balance of ride and handling. New tech impresses at the moment

Against: 

More cramped than rivals. No V6s. Will the tech prove reliable?

Overview

What is it?

So much praise was lavished upon the Jaguar XE when it launched back in 2015. Its brand-new, lightweight mechanicals endowed it with a deft driving experience that embarrassed every single one of its rivals, yet it only takes a swift look at the sales charts over the four years since to conclude that’s not where the posh saloon car buyer’s priorities lie.

Surprisingly, perhaps, when you consider the enduring success of the BMW 3 Series in this part of the market. Thus the XE’s reboot has addressed some of the areas where it lagged behind the 3 Series, as well as the Audi A4, Mercedes C-Class and the more recently launched Alfa Romeo Giulia.

First up, sharpening up the slightly dowdy styling of before. It manages to be familiar yet oh so different, the appearance of an unflatteringly shrunken Jaguar XF replaced by some real vigour, all via thinner LED lights, reshaped bumpers and an optional lip spoiler. Spec the 20in alloy wheels (you can, the ride is comfy) and you end up with a car that’s fantastically handsome.

Next, plusher cabin materials and a wealth of new technology, with the option of up to four screens inside (!), one cleverly embedded within the rear view mirror to stream a wide-angle camera view that’s notably more informative than the narrow squint through a wiper-less rear screen most four-doors offer. Beneath that you’ll find the twin screens seen in the Jaguar I-Pace that can swap between nav, phone link-up and climate control at your whim.

Finally, a much simpler engine and trim range, which does unfortunately mean you now must have a four-cylinder engine. The V6 has gone for good, and we suspect the £150k, V8-powered Project 8 special won’t live on beyond its initial 300-car run in the earlier XE shape…

Thus all versions comprise two litres, with a 178bhp diesel and two petrols, offering either 247 or 296bhp. All employ an eight-speed automatic transmission – with newly elongated paddleshifters and a proper gear selector in the middle – while they offer a mixture of rear- and all-wheel drive depending on how much money you spend.

There’s still no estate version, which is perhaps a shame given just how purposeful it would look, but it’s probably understandable given the XE’s modest sales numbers and Jaguar’s increasing focus on SUVs. But how does the regular four-door fare against its seemingly insurmountable German foes?

Photography: Greg Pajo

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
5.0 Supercharged V8 SV Project 8 4dr Auto
3.3s 254g/km 25.7 600 £148,180
The cheapest
2.0 Ingenium SE 4dr Auto
7.2s 165g/km 39.2 200 £31,245
The greenest
2.0d Portfolio 4dr
8.9s 124g/km 60.1 163 £34,445
Continue: Driving

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