Friday 15 December 2017

New Jag out to win buyers from top German rivals

SPORTY: The Jaguar XE ‘S’ offers a razor-sharp drive
SPORTY: The Jaguar XE ‘S’ offers a razor-sharp drive
Geraldine Herbert

Geraldine Herbert

With long, athletic yet smooth lines, and a honeycomb grille, that nod to the badge's halcyon days, Jaguar's new XE is a strikingly good-looking car. But the real beauty of this newcomer is underneath this svelte exterior. The XE is a completely new car, with 75pc of the body and chassis made from aluminium; making it light and unique in its class.

Designed to muscle in on the lucrative prestige market dominated by its German rivals, this is without doubt the most important car Jaguar has ever built.

With over two billion invested in its development, the XE is designed to transform Jaguar from a niche manufacturer into a major player.

Inside, the cabin is classy and features "the Riva Hoop"; an architectural detail borrowed from larger siblings that sweeps above the instrument panel.

The XE adopts Jaguar's Ingenium diesel engine, a newly developed unit designed to power future Jaguars and Land Rovers.

In its most efficient 163bhp version, the 2.0-litre diesel XE returns 99g/km of CO2, 3.8 l/100km (74.3mpg) combined and €180 annual motor tax.

The 180bhp engine emits 109g/km, returns 4.2 l/100km (67.3mpg) and costs €190 to tax annually, while the 240bhp 2-litre Ford-derived petrol engine delivers 7.5 l/100km (37.7mpg) combined.

But if efficiency is not your concern, the one to opt for is the special-order supercharged 3-litre V6 340bhp.

Where the XE really shines, however, is behind the wheel. Flick the switch to dynamic mode and let the supercharged V6 S unleash the full 340bhp and 450Nm of torque.

On a racetrack in Navarra, Spain, it proved exhilarating, with a razor sharpness, but even more impressively, on the road, the diesel is almost as good to drive.

Our test car was fitted with Jaguar's 'Adaptive' suspension that perfectly blends body control and comfort.

There are two other suspension set-ups to choose from - Comfort and Sport - but the optional and more expensive 'Adaptive' system is money well spent.

Trim level choices include Pure, Prestige, R-Sport, 'S' and Portfolio. Pricing will be announced closer to the launch date, but we would expect the XE to be in the region of €40,000. The first cars, due here in early June, will be the 180bhp automatic and the V6. Three more versions join the range in September the 163bhp 2.0 litre diesel, in manual or automatic and manual version of the 180bhp and a 240bhp 2.0 petrol.

For years, the BMW 3 series, Audi's A4 and the Mercedes C Class have been synonymous with the compact executive, but nothing lasts forever.

Jaguar's new XE is a serious sports saloon with honed steering and acceleration on demand in a fuel-sipping understated disguise. The XE may be late to the party, but first impressions suggest it has what it takes to seriously challenge the Germans.

Geraldine Herbert

Sunday Independent

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