340i, Mercedes will surely make an AMG 43 version of the C-Class saloon and there's even a 330hp Volvo S60 available if the Polestar option is ticked. There is of course a new Audi S4 coming too, although that was making the same sort of power back in the mid-2000s, albeit with a big V8 rather than a turbocharged V6.
It seemed high time the Jaguar was tested in the UK then, particularly after impressing so highly on the Spanish launch event. And if anything a Jaguar should be at its best over here, right?
Dynamically the XE S feels spot on, even on the 20-inch wheels fitted here. On the motorway the refinement is supreme; tyre noise is well suppressed, the engine spins quietly at 2,000rpm and it's fantastically composed. If the XE's main remit is to comfortably soak up motorway miles then that's one brief nailed. Indeed, it would surely be even better on the smaller wheels fitted to the diesels.
the XF we tested recently, compliant and refined but without ever feeling aloof. Again the Normal mode feels suitable for nearly every circumstance, particularly with the ugly driving displays (Eco), dead throttle pedal (Winter) and red illuminated dials (Dynamic) forced on the driver in other modes. But the fundamental sense of well-honed chassis shines through, particularly when allied to steering and brakes that also feel like good time has been spent setting them up properly. It all bodes very well for the properly fast one - an SVR, most probably - that will inevitably arrive.
It's going to be seriously rapid too, if it's going to put distance between it and this S. The supercharged V6 offers plentiful torque at low revs yet is keen to rev out as well, smooth and sonorous throughout. It's a competitive sector for engines though, the Audi, BMW and Mercedes all delivering similar performance with better scores on emissions and economy. An automatic 340i, for example, emits 35g/km less than this XE.
That being said, the XE remains a desirable and talented choice in the segment. For some the fact it isn't German will be part of the appeal, and isn't it nice to finally have a British saloon that really can compete? Dynamically the Jaguar XE is fantastic, and you would have to hope the progress made with the F-Pace's interior will make its way to the saloon soon enough. Of course the V6 will remain a niche choice, but if it's a viable option then it comes highly recommended. Bring on the supercharged V8!
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
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
MPG: 34.9 (NEDC combined)
Price: £55,163 (Basic of £44,865 with Italian racing red metallic for £620, 20-inch Propeller 10-spoke wheels for £800, full-width sliding panoramic sunroof for £1,000, Carbon fibre veneer for £1,000, Heated steering wheel for £185, Heated and cooled front seats and heated rear seats with 10x10 way electric front seats for £1,035, Illuminated sill tread plates for £408, Electric powerfold door mirrors with eating and auto-dimming for £275, solar attenuating glass for £435, Heated front windscreen and heated washer jets for £300, Premium carpet mats for £100, Slit fold rear seat for £400, Wi-Fi hotspot for £300, Head-up display for £1,000, Space saver spare wheel for £150, Lighting pack for £400, Advanced parking assist pack with surround camera for £1,540 and Black pack for £350)
Photos: Luc Lacey, via Autocar