A British icon

Jaguar XE, R-Sport 2.0 AWD

Model on test: £44,805

The Jag XE is a good looking car. Let’s get that straight right from the off. I have serious envy about this car and giving it back was only made easier by the fact that it was being swapped for a Jag E-Pace… but more about that in a future review.

This is Jag’s smaller offering – a low slung sports saloon. Sleeker than the XF, slightly smaller but perfectly formed with great lines and while I usually prefer any colour other than white, this test car looked great from every angle even in that colour. Being the R-Sport model, there’s some extra bodykit and a few style elements around the grill and tread plates. There’s still plenty of space in the back and headroom is not a problem like it can be in some sports saloons, and the boot is still big – not as cavernous as the XF, but the rear end is so much better looking, that it’s perfectly forgivable!

That’s not to say it’s a small boot – the shape is slightly awkward, but you’d fit a few suitcases in it without too much trouble and the footwell space in the back provides some extra stowage if needed. But ultimately, given this is a Jag, the real test is whether it looks good, and whether it moves well.

This one comes out well in both tests. The performance isn’t blisteringly fast, but it moves well and  is very well balanced, so cornering is a joy and, in dynamic mode with the drivetrain in sport, it pulls well and puts a smile on your face. I’d possibly drop half a mark off for the automatic gearbox, which is generally good, but on a few rare occasions I don’t think the change was as smooth as I would have wanted, but given the choice, I’d opt for the manual option anyway. Regardless of this, it get’s a big tick for performance then…

As for looks, as I said, this is an amazing looking car from all angles outside, and when you get in, if anything it gets even better. The contours on the drivers door sweeps in front of you and all the way round to the other door. There’s some lovely chrome touches around too, and some great gloss black effect panels. The quality of a few areas seems a little lower than you might hope for, but given the  great driving position, comfortable seats and fantastic touchscreen interface for the satnav and stereo, it’s not really an issue. And speaking about that stereo, it’s amazing. Granted, the unit in my test car was a £530 upgrade, but if you’re spending around £40k on a saloon, I’d be tempted to go for this, it’s that good!

Let’s just take a moment to reflect on that. The price tag for this car was almost £45k – and that’s a lot. If I were to pit it against a rival from a German manufacturer, it’d probably be the Audi A5 Quattro, which is a similar style of car, with a similar power output and spec. Both come with four wheel drive and if you pick the S-Line spec, you’re looking at a similar amount of kit and comparable spec.

Cards on the table, I love the Audi A5. There’s something about it that has always appealed. But given the choice between the two, what would I choose? Both are great looking cars, with good performance and family-friendly functionality built in despite being an executive-targeted car.

In reality, there’s no contest. I’d make the same choice time and time again.

It’s the Jag. Just maybe not in white. And with a manual gearbox.

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