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Private Fleet Car Review: 2016 Jaguar XE Prestige

2016 XE Jaguar Prestige profileJaguar‘s renaissance has continued with the September 2015 launch of the XE, the smaller sibling to their XF saloon. Powered almost exclusively, for the moment anyway, by a range of four cylinder engines from the diesel and petrol powered (as the S gets the 250kW V6 found in the XF…), there’s a four model range to select from, being the Prestige, S, Portfolio and R-Sport. A Wheel Thing was handed the keys to the Prestige, with a 2.0L petrol turboed four on board.

There’s a clear family resemblance, as expected, to the XF, but also design cues from the F-Type family. Toss in a mix of style hints from the XJ, such as the bluff, vertical nose, the lonnnnng bonnet and short tail with F-Type inspired tail lights and it’s clear it’s a Jag.2016 XE Jaguar Prestige frontThe Prestige, as mentioned, is powered by a two litre petrol engine with a little extra help for the induction side. There’s two levels of oomph, with either 147 kW or 177 kW and 280/340 torques available from a mesa flat 1750 to 4000 revs. Transmission comes in any ratio spread you like as long as it’s an eight speed auto. Economy is (ahem) not bad from the 63L tank, with Jaguar quoting 10.2/6.0/7.5L per 100 kilometres on the urban/highway/combined cycles.

A Wheel Thing levelled out at around 7.0L/100 km. Considering the 1530 kg weight (dry, thanks to the aluminuim construction), that’s pretty decent. Plus, Jaguar have engineered in a regenerative charging system that helps to top up the battery under braking and passes the fuel savings on to the engine.

The XE is aimed fair and square at Germany; Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen too in the mix. Physically it’s a good size, at 4672 mm long, 1850 mm wide (excluding mirrors) and a compact 1416 mm in height. Check out an A4, 3 series, C Class etc and they’ll all be in there size wise. Riding on a 2835 mm wheelbase you’d be forgiven for presuming there’s a bucketload of room inside. More on that, later.

Wheelwise, the XE (coated in a gorgeous “Ultimate Black” and a $1300 option for the Prestige) rolled on 225/45 rubber with black painted “Matrix” alloys of an 18 inch diameter. There’s plenty of option packs available for the XE range, including a Black Pack for the Portfolio, lobbing you a black grille, side window surrounds and more. Does an XE look good in black? Does it ever!2016 XE Jaguar Prestige fender vent2016 Jaguar XE wheelAt night the tail lights glow with an almost volcanic orange hue, a neon line on either side, balanced by the J curve of the LED running lights at the front. There’s a phosphor blue interior light, plus, with the driving modes on offer, Sport mode lights up the dash dials with a deep red.2016 Jaguar XE rear lights2016 Jaguar XE driving lightsOn the road the XE sets the dynamic cat amongst the benchmark pigeons. Yes, it’s that good. There’s next to no main road surface that will unsettle it, the EPAS (electric powered assisted steering) is knife edge sharp in response and perfectly weighted. Turns are smooth, with next to no hint of understeer when pushed and balanced on the throttle there’s no understeer, thanks to the near 50:50 weight distribution. Body roll is unheard of and when Dynamic mode is selected (via centre console mounted buttons) the “cat” comes more alive.

Throttle response is sharper, the steering feels, incredibly, more en pointe, the suspension feels more glued to the car and the road, feeling every ripple and tracking every curve yet screens out the annoying bumps and transmits pure driving joy. The acceleration from the 2.0L turbo petrol is astounding in Dynamic and more than pleasing in Normal. The aluminuim construction helps, with torsional stiffness and rigidity (22 kNm/degree) holding the bodyshell taut as the XE is driven with verve, plus gives the XE the lightest body in its class.

The eight speedauto in Eco or Normal mode is smooth, like a fresh made vanilla milkshake. Under acceleration, be it light, moderate or exuberant, there’s forward motion and gear changes blurring imperceptibly. Using the paddle shifts elicits the same response…then there’s the Dynamic mode. Changes aren’t as crisp, sharp, there’s even some indecisiveness at low speeds.

In profile, the XE looks as if there’s plenty of room inside. There is, for the front seat passengers but even a driver of average height, having settled and adjusted the electric seats and steering column, leaves the rear seat passengers a touch cramped for leg room. Some smart engineering allows head room, with an indentation in the roof just behind the sunroof’s rolling fabric screen locker, but leg room is an issue. Having the rear seats a couple of inches forward of where logic (and we’re not talking safety or engineering here, mind you) would have you think they’d be, contributes to the feeling of tightness.2016 Jaguar XE front seatsLuxury wise, the XE Prestige needs some more. There’s hard plastic for the centre console, hard as in there’s NO give whatsoever and a driver’s left knee rests naturally on it and it becomes painful. Even the door trims and dash covering need more softness, as could the steering wheel, it’s just that tad too unpadded. Ergonomically, the cabin is mostly ok, however the two level door trim, with (driver’s side) window switches high up and 3 position memory seating almost where you’d expect the armrest to be, clash with the simple and clearly laid out aircon controls on the lower centre dash, underneath the 6.1 inch touchscreen ( a delight to use in its own right). Noticeable, in its absence, is any hint of woodgrain, but the XE does get the curved upper dash wrap around as first seen in the XJ.2016 XE Jaguar front door inside trim2016 XE Jaguar Prestige dashThe seats are, naturally, wonderful to sit in (but heating and cooling are options…), allowing the driver and passenger to look at a dash where the outer air vents are set too low down for true effectiveness. A laid back angle to help direct air upwards would help or a relocation further upwards. The dials in the driver’s binnacle are easy to read and of a mechanical needle style, however a full or partial LCD screen here would also have been nice. There’s the aforementioned sunroof, with a roll into the roof fabric screen, to start with before the glass is exposed.

The sound system is from Meridian, all 380 watts of it, and has the front mounted tweeters cleverly mounted to fire at the driver and passenger, rather than across the cabin as many others do. The touchscreen system makes adjustment of the sound and utilising the nav system a doddle.

There is some great tech on board, with Jaguar’s All Surface Progress Control, allowing the traction system to work as a low speed cruise control. Working between 3.6 kmh and 30 kmh, it gives the driver the ability to steer the XE on slippery and wet surfaces, even on a downhill run, stopping or minimising loss of traction. There’s another acronym to learn, EDC or Engine Drag torque Control, which ties in with the ABS by providing more torque to the braking wheels under heavy deceleration on slippery surfaces.

Naturally there’s a reverse camera, which can also be selected whilst the Jaguar is under way, the engine Stop/Star system, parking assist (front and rear sensors for rear and nose in parking), Lane Departure Warning, Tyre Pressure Monitoring and a swag more. Storage wise, the boot is a considerable 455L.2016 XE Jaguar Prestige rearThe Wrap.
There’s little doubt the Jaguar brand is thriving, with the launch of the XE and F-Pace, Jaguar’s first SUV, plus a new XF on the way for Australia as well. The big cat, the XJ, also underwent a styling update recently. The XE range is aimed, it would seem, at a “younger” audience, with the somewhat unJaguar like lack of anything resembling wood, the slightly cramped rear passenger section but it’s a market that’s growing.

Jaguar also recognises the growth in the SUV segment, with the F-Pace on the way. There’s plenty of tech-spec to play with, such as the (almost) purely turbo charged engine range with four pot configuration, it’s possibly one of the best cars in a dynamic sense in its class and doesn’t look half bad either, an important consideration for some. It’s keenly priced to attract that segment of buyers, as well, starting in the low $60K bracket. Should the Germans, the target for the XE’s guns, be worried?

Yes. They should.

Information, including brochure downloads,can be found here:Jaguar XE range and brochure downloadsJaguar-logo-2012