While the new Jaguar XE has improved on the vehicle that preceded it across the board, there remains some sadness - certainly around here, at least - about the demise of the V6 car. Though the four-cylinder P300 replacement is fine, and feels the benefit of less weight over the nose, it's neither remarkable by four-cylinder standards nor as charismatic as the old engine. Oh sure, nobody bought the V6, and it was hardly in the first flushes of youth, but we would defy anyone to drive an XE with that motor in and not enjoy the experience immensely. It just worked; really, really nicely.
All that said, the downsizing move is more than understandable. Beyond the poor sales, the 3.0-litre supercharged engine wasn't all that efficient, both in isolation and against key rivals from Audi, BMW and Mercedes. When the same performance can be delivered while consuming less fuel and emitting less CO2, the decision is impossible to avoid. Trouble is that the joy derived from a car can't be quantified by a number, and that's where the old XE S excelled - it wasn't revolutionary or ground breaking in any way, but it was a damn nice car to drive, and the engine's contribution to that was considerable. When Autocar first compared an XE just like this one with a BMW 340i, the conclusion was emphatic: The Jaguar hasn't just shaded this test; as a driver's car, the XE S has put clear air between itself and a car that many - me included - imagined would present an insurmountable challenge." So there.
When new, however, the XE was £45,000 before a single option was added, fully £5,000 more than that 3 Series. Being a large-engined, series production Jaguar, it has of course depreciated, but the case of this particular Italian Racing Red car is remarkable: one of the earliest XEs made on a 15 plate, it has somehow covered just 4,000 miles in those four years. Furthermore, while its £26k asking price isn't the lowest out there - the highest-mileage cars are £20k, and later 380s are available privately for £25k - it does represent an enormous saving off that list price. For a car which, let's be honest here, has barely even left the forecourt in the grand scheme of things.
Why? The slightly odd slabs of dark blue leather inside could contribute. And it shouldn't be forgotten that the quite profligate, most expensive version in the XE range must be quite a tough sell to those not that invested. The more prosaic diesels and petrols will have broader appeal.
If you are invested, though, what an opportunity this is. While it's a V6 rather than a straight-six, as powered so many famous Jags, there's considerable nostalgic appeal in having half a dozen cylinders under the bonnet of a rear-drive Jaguar saloon - especially so now that it won't happen again. That the car was more than competitive in a contemporary context only increases the temptation further.
As for those rivals, the BMW 340i is considerably more common yet no cheaper (despite that lower asking price), this 2016 car with 8,000 miles is for sale at £26,880. As for the Audi S4, paying the same amount of money only gets you a saloon with more than 30,000 miles. And although a Mercedes C350e is available for less money, that's a four-cylinder hybrid powertrain, and so rather loses its validity in this 'six appeal' argument, nice car though it surely is.
The Jaguar XE S isn't the first car to be shown greater appreciation in light of its replacement, though there won't be that many more to follow suit, surely, with the downsizing revolution well underway. So while a large engine will be more difficult than ever to make an objective case for, the subjective appeal is probably greater than it's ever been - here's the ideal chance to experience it.
SPECIFICATION - JAGUAR XE S
Engine: 2,995cc, supercharged V6
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 340@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 332@4,500rpm
First registered: 2015
Recorded mileage: 4,366
Price new: £44,865
Yours for: £26,577