Jaguar wants a piece of the lucrative market for premium entry-level sport saloons. Funny enough this is not the British auto company’s first attempted at the segment. That first attempt was called the Jaguar S-Type. The Jaguar S-Type was always a bit of a throwback. Stately and posh, the S-Type’s exterior design showed shades of the ’60s Jaguar saloons, from which its designers copied generously.
The styling also distinguished the S-Type from other luxury saloons on the market, which more typically feature sharp edges and angled surfaces. However, it failed to impact the market and by 2008, when Jaguar was sold to Tata Motors, the car was axed from its line-up. Jaguar’s second attempt, the XE, redefines the concept of the entry-level sports saloon thanks to its advanced lightweight construction, streamlined styling, luxurious interior and outstanding ride and handling. A host of updates for 2018 make the XE better in every aspect.
The 2018 XE features a modular architecture, which enables the car to have perfect proportions. Short front overhang, longer rear overhang and dynamic rearward stance define the shape of the compact saloon. The architecture also enables the 2018 XE to feature both a low, sporty driving position and a sleek, coupe-like profile. The 2018 XE’s strongly sculpted bonnet creates a taut, muscular appearance. The rising waistline adds to the sense of movement, while the shape of the rear fenders takes inspiration from the F-Type Coupe. The signature J-Blade running lights are another instantly recognisable Jaguar design element. The rear lights feature a styling theme inherited from the iconic E-Type. Jaguar has a rich history of producing stunning, aerodynamically efficient cars. The 2018 XE continues the tradition with its streamlined shape, which has the lowest drag coefficient of any Jaguar at just 0.26.
Fitted underneath the bonnet of the 2018 XE is a choice of Jaguar’s Ingenium engines. The engines’ advanced modular design was started from a clean sheet to deliver performance, efficiency and refinement without compromise. Entry-level performance is provided by the 2.0-litre petrol unit with an output of 147 kW and 236 Nm of torque. The power unit accelerates the 2018 XE 20t from 0 to 100km/h in 7.1 seconds. Fuel consumption is rated at 6.3 litres per 100 km.
The mid spec 2018 XE 25t features a 2.0-litre unit with an output if 184 kW (246 hp) and 340 Nm of torque. It is quick and runs the compact saloon from standstill to 100 km/h in 6.3 seconds. Fuel consumption is 7.5L/100km.
For customers demanding ultimate performance and an exhilarating engine notes from idle right up to the redline, theirs is a 3.0-litre V6, which is available on the F-Type as well. Developing 375 hp (280 kW) and 450 Nm of torque, the V6 provides the 2018 XE S with exceptional acceleration and performance. 0 to 100 km/h takes just 5 seconds, and top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h. The XE S consumes 8.1 litres of fuel per 100 km. Top speed for the engine is pegged at 250 km/h. All power units are paired with to an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shift controls. The transmission sends power to the rear wheels or to all wheels on AWD XE variants.
Where most competitors use MacPherson strut front suspension, Jaguar’s vehicle dynamics team insisted on the superior double wishbone configuration. The team also insisted on an Integral Link suspension, which is usually found only in larger, more expensive vehicles. The front and rear suspension delivers the ideal values needed for the 2018 XE’s precise handling and supple ride. The car’s handling prowess are further enhanced by the Electric Power Steering (EPAS). In common with the XF sports saloon, the 2018 XE is now available with Configurable Dynamics as a standalone feature, providing even greater scope for driver customisation. The new system allows drivers to set up the vehicle to suit their personal preference by choosing Normal or Dynamic settings for the engine, gearbox and steering and enhances the existing Adapted Dynamics function which allows the driver to also fine-tune suspension settings.
Jaguar takes pride in the safety credentials of its vehicles and the XE features a trio of new technologies for 2018 model year. Forward Traffic Detection is designed to assist when forward visibility is restricted. Forward Vehicle Guidance helps drivers to place the vehicle when completing low speed manoeuvres. Both are fitted as part of the vehicle’s surround camera system. Blind Spot Assist (BSA) detects vehicles in or approaching the blind spot when changing lanes and applies a gentle steering force to keep the vehicle in its lane and prevent a collision.
The pedestrian safety bar is raised further by Jaguar’s advanced Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), which provides superior functionality with the introduction of pedestrian detection. The system operates from 5-60km/h and uses a forward facing camera to detect hazards, automatically applying the brakes when the risk of a collision is detected.
The striking 2018 XE’s exterior styling is reflected once one steps inside. The spacious interior cocoons front seat passengers with a deep centre console, which creates a cockpit-like feel. The F-Type-style dials emphasise the 2018 XE’s sports saloon attributes. Front and rear seat occupants enjoy generous amounts of head and legroom. Technical fabrics, fine-grain leathers and details such as contrasting twin-needle stitching give the interior a personalised look. The choice of gloss black, textured aluminium, and contemporary wood surfaces enhance the luxurious, handcrafted feel. Ambient lighting with up to 10 colours options adds to the sense of occasion.
The introduction of a 12.3-inch TFT virtual instrument cluster provides greater clarity for drivers when specifying Touch Pro infotainment. With four distinct visual themes for drivers to choose from, the large display makes it possible to view full-screen 3D navigation instructions. Meanwhile, Dual View technology brings additional versatility to the Touch Pro infotainment, allowing the driver to follow satellite navigation instructions while the passenger uses the same 10-inch touchscreen display to view USB or TV outputs. Living with the XE has never been easier thanks to a host of new features including a Gesture Boot Lid, which allows customers to open and close the boot simply by waving their foot beneath a corner of the rear bumper.
Every now and again, an upstart luxury sport saloon comes along to challenge the status quo. However, the challenge is usually unsuccessful, simply because the established German players are so good at what they do. Nonetheless, a happier ending is in store for the 2018 XE. The venerable British carmaker has taken dead aim at the segment stalwarts, and the result is a fully competitive saloon with thrilling performance and head-turning style to boot. RMA Kenya is the franchise holder for Jaguar. The firm’s showroom is located at Delta Towers in Westlands, Nairobi Kenya.
Quote: For customers demanding ultimate performance and an exhilarating engine notes from idle right up to the redline, theirs is a 3.0-litre V6, which is available on the F-Type as well.
What we like
- Great engine choice
- Top notch interior
- Class leading handling
What we dislike
- Cramped rear seats
- Limited storage space
- Some interior plastics