Jaguar XE V6 S: UK Review

Remember the E46 BMW M3? Of course you do, it's a performance car icon and one of M Division's finest. When production ceased a decade ago, the flagship 3 Series made 343hp and 269lb ft. Now there's a raft of compact executive cars - this Jaguar XE S included - that match or surpass those figures, and aren't even pitched as the pinnacle sports saloons.

Jaguar suppleness remains even on 20s
Jaguar suppleness remains even on 20s
It's a fascinating little clique of fast four-doors that remain fairly subtle to the non-expert eye. The BMW equivalent is the 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.

Sounds good and goes well, but it could be better
Sounds good and goes well, but it could be better
On more interesting roads the XE is great, displaying that poise and fluidity on tricky surfaces we've come to expect from modern Jaguars and absent from many rivals. Unsurprisingly it feels much like 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.

Will the superb handling be enough to tempt buyers?
Will the superb handling be enough to tempt buyers?
There's no doubt that the Jaguar excels in this group dynamically, but there are key areas that count against it in addition to the rather dreary mpg and CO2 figures. While the interior has a great driving position, the displays simply aren't as good as those in the German rivals and the technology doesn't work as smoothly. PH would always preach buying cars on dynamic virtue but other factors will contribute, and on showroom appeal the Jag may be found lacking. Particularly given this car was £55K as tested...

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!

: 2,995cc, supercharged V6
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 340@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 332@4,500rpm
0-62mph: 5.1sec
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Weight: 1,665kg
MPG: 34.9 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 194g/km
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

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (156) Join the discussion on the forum

  • P-Jay 22 Mar 2016

    Nice car, seems expensive for a non-halo model, it's about the same price as an M3 would have been in 2006 inflation corrected.

  • jamieduff1981 22 Mar 2016

    So it's a great car to drive. I'm sure that will prove to be of secondary importance now to people who just want to be seen in a German car. rolleyes

  • Monty Python 22 Mar 2016

    At least there's an alternative :-)

  • Pommygranite 22 Mar 2016

    That back end is just ridiculously awful in a bat st boring way

  • moffat 22 Mar 2016

    Such a shame that Jaguar can't get it right with this car - The F Type is epic, but I can see many positives with the XE:

    1. Externally and especially from the rear it looks really boring
    2. The interior looks like it's been plucked from an X Type
    3. Jaguar are still a generation behind on engines
    4. 340i, C43 and the new S4 will all likely be much better

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