One of the first cars I drove last year was the Jaguar XE Diesel (Check out my full review here), and while I was impressed with the way the car looked and handled the economy friendly diesel engine seemed much less Jaguar-like and much more like something out of the German stables, sufficient but far from exciting. Ever since I’ve been meaning to drive the petrol variant, which I had suspected would be a lot more lively than the diesel and therefore more Jag like. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised but is the small Jaguar still good when you realise that for the about 30 k more, you can have the M-Sport 3-Series, that is almost the same price with almost the same power and German reliability to boot?
Jaguar XE 25t Exteriors and Design:
The XE petrol has no cosmetic differences from its diesel-powered counterpart that we drove earlier this year. A passing look at the XE, especially if you're far back enough to lose the sense of scale, and you might even mistake it for an XF. Not a bad thing, the XF does look fantastic. Forgivable and understandable if it was any other of the list of European Auto manufacturers but enthusiasts might agree, that Jaguars are held to a slightly more rigid standard. In that sense, one could wish for a slightly more stand apart design.
That said, there is NOTHING wrong with the way it looks. The signature Jaguar grille dominates the front, flanked by the sleek-ish LED Projector Headlamps. The rear is a perfect example of how the minimalist design, the wrap around LED tail-lamp, and dual-exhaust pipes add to the aggressive Jaguar-esque charm. The XE misses out on any extravagant body work and gets rather pedestrian tyres with simple 17-inch tyres wrapped with more thick sidewalls that look a tad thicker than they need to be. The rims are simple but elegant although they seem to demand a slightly sportier tyre. That said, the Jaguar still stands out in a crowd, and grabs eyeballs simply for being a JAG.
Jaguar XE 25t Interiors
Step inside the leather wrapped cabin, with the wraparound style dashboard merges right into the door, and you begin to feel that special something that you're supposed to when you're in a Jaguar. I love the brown(tan) leather interiors, more so because they are distinct and set apart like a Jaguar should be. The steering and seats in the front are electronically adjustable and are sure to make a mark. The XE Petrol also features Jaguar’s new InControl infotainment system that gets an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system that is not only good to use but gets properly advanced resolution and in-built navigation.
Let's not forget about the Meridian speaker set that truly has great depth of sound. The Jaguar XE is strictly a driver’s car, and what I mean by that is, it’s not the car you buy if you want to be chauffeured around. Rear-leg room is far from ample and could get cramped if there’s a taller individual in the front. In fact seating 5 is asking a lot considering that there is a large divide in the seats for the transmission tunnel. Boot space too is just about okay. That said, if you prefer to drive yourself (I know I do) off the option in the price range, the Jaguar is definitely one of the top to consider. More so because of what I have to say next!
Jaguar XE 25t Performance
The XE petrol is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol in both the Portfolio and the Pure trim, but while the Pure has a slightly lower tune at 200hp and 320 Nm of torque. The Portfolio that we are drove gets the all out 240 hp, 340 Nm. Considering that there is no M-sport sort of package for the XE, it's a lot more than sufficient. The XE sends power to the rear wheels through a properly responsive 8-speed automatic. Round them off and performance is better than good and the XE is exciting to drive. 0-100 kmph takes a little over 7 seconds, and even on the trott well into the triple digits the motor feels smooth and unstrained! Considering that it is a 2.0 litre turbo-petrol you’d expect the fuel efficiency to be pretty putrid, but its not! The Jaguar showed an indicated efficiency of about 10 kmpl in the city and an impressive 16 kmpl in highway cruising.
Jaguar XE 25t Ride and handling
To sum up my argument about driver's cars, let's talk about the handling. The Jaguar rides properly sharply and the steering weighs up nicely in your hands. The front end grip is phenomenal, which goes well with the XE’s waggy tail, if you're really pushing it through the corners with the traction control switched off. It won’t light up the tyres and bellow tyre smoke (there isn’t enough power for that) but it just wags enough to keep you entertained before snapping back to a straight line. Braking response is good too, with sharp and firm feel on the pedal.
Given all that I’ve said above, you’d be led to believe that the Jaguar will be a pain to drive on Indian roads with the number of bumps and potholes that we deal with. Jaguar have found a sweet spot for the XE which actually does a proper job of absorbing bumps and undulations without losing grip or sending it all into the cabin. Of Course the 17-inch wheels with thick sidewall play their part in this too, although, if you absolutely detest the look Jaguar will give you an optional 18 or even a 19 inch wheel set.
Jaguar XE 25t Conclusion
In conclusion, the Jaguar XE Portfolio may not be the ultimate drivers car of the segment, but it is one that you should consider if you enjoy driving and want to stand out in a line-up of similar sedans from the remaining European front runners.