Jaguars are known for their opulence, besides a great deal of sportiness. So when Jaguar introduced their smallest cat yet, it had big shoes to fill, especially with its bigger brothers being the XJ and the F-Type. And it did that quite well with the powerful 2.0-litre petrol engine that it was launched with. And now a diesel mill has also hit the roads, the Ingenium 2.0-litre, that will ring in the numbers for Jaguar because of its economies. So, we head out in the baby Jag, the top-spec Portfolio trim at that, to find out if it turns out to be a real ‘Jaguar’.
Styling is where the Jaguars rule the roost and the XE is certainly no different. It starts with the signature grille - the toothed-cat in the centre and the low lying twin-barrels headlamps looking straight into you. The large louvered hood swoops down like eyelids with the creases adding muscle to the equation. And all of this aggression and drama is created with simple, clean lines from Ian Callum’s drawing table which make these Jaguars so beautiful.
As you move on to the profile, the steeply raked windshield flows into the taut roofline that extends to the boot lid, almost like a coupe. The design gives it a crouched stance when you look at it from the sides and the distinct shoulder line, the flared wheel arches and the signature fender slit adds character. The tail gets a little lip-spoiler on the deck-lid and two large horizontal wrap-around tail lamps with the flying cat embossed in the centre.
Overall, the Jaguar XE takes the styling game to the next level in the compact luxury sedan segment, leaving behind its primary rivals, the Mercedes C-Class, the BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4.
The evocative styling continues on the inside as well with the yacht-like semi-circular layout. The cockpit is neatly laid out in an old-school way. The touchscreen display is tucked between the buttons and the waterfall console houses the two-zone climate control. The ‘theatre-of-dreams’ rotary gear-fob rises as you thumb the ‘throbbing’ start-stop button (throbbing because it blinks, egging you to start off).
The cabin was dressed in beige and black, upholstered in leather. Front seats are electrically adjustable along with the steering column and make sure you get into a comfortable position right away. Seating in the front row is comfortable thanks to the well-executed ergonomics. Even the rear passengers have just enough legroom for the three occupants. The twin rear AC vents make sure the entire cabin cools swiftly while the electric rear curtain makes sure that the sun is kept at bay.
The binnacle of the instrument cluster reads speed and revs with the TFT display in the centre reading out the other required information. You can access the settings through the steering mounted audio controls and also through the touchscreen display. As you might have noticed, the Jaguar XE is loaded with features which also includes an electric sunroof, electrically operated ORVMs and auto-dimming interior rear-view mirror, cruise control, automatic headlamps and rain-sensing wipers as well.
The overall fit and finish along with the quality of materials as well as plastics is top notch, befitting the opulent Jaguar tradition. NVH levels are also adequate and it has a quiet ride on tarmac. Concrete roads tend to be noisy, but that is just to nit-pick, just like our want for lumbar support for the front seats and the standard jibe about the transmission tunnel eating into the legroom of the middle rear passenger.
Let us talk about performance now. Jaguars are meant to be leaping forward and also be agile and the XE does that quite well thanks to the robust diesel mill. The engine in question here is the Ingenium 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel four-banger that pumps out 177bhp of power. And it is the whopping 430Nm of torque and the eight-speed gearbox that create all the magic. With the torque kicking in from as low as 1700rpm, the engine revs cleanly to over 5000rpm with the horsepower taking over the proceedings as we move up.
It comes with three driving modes – snow, economy and dynamic apart from the standard normal mode to suit different driving conditions and situations. In Eco mode, the gearbox upshifts quickly to the next gear, so much so that the engine revs well below 2000rpm when you have already crossed 100kmph on the speedo. Being a torque converter, you have enough go from lower revs, and once the turbo spools up, the ZF gearbox works smartly to keep the engine in the meat as far as possible. In Sport mode, the gearbox holds on to the revs even at the red-line and the gearbox responds faster when you flick the paddles. Snow mode restricts torque to avoid wheel-spin, something that would be a rare occurrence given the Indian climate.
So, with the meaty engine and the gearbox working well in tandem, you are cruising in three-figures effortlessly. The ride is pliant, soaking up almost everything. But the characteristic underlying stiffness of the suspension — designed-for-foreign-roads-and-adapted-for-India —, is evident, especially on the badly-executed concrete highways we find in India. But on tarmac, all the noise settles down for a quiet ride, bringing out the real XE.
Also, characteristic of Jaguars is the taut steering. In spite of being an electronic unit, it has the feel of the hydraulic past and I enjoyed it. Feedback is precise, especially when you try and push the car, throwing it around corners at speeds you shouldn’t ideally be doing. The chassis tells you exactly what is happening at each end and you know exactly when you want to back off. The whole steering-suspension combination takes a little time to get into the sprint, but once it does, it is capable of some serious speed. And complementing it well are the brakes. They don’t fade out that easily and have the right bite and progression for your regular traffic crawl as well as that occasional burst of speed around the twisties.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||177@4000|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||430@1750|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||56|
|Tyre size||225/45 R17|
|Meridian Audio System||Yes|
|177bhp Ingenium Diesel Engine||Yes|
|Premium Leather Interior||Yes|
|Two-Zone Automatic Climate Control||Yes|
|8-speed Automatic Gearbox||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Max. Power (bhp)||177bhp @ 4000||204bhp @ 3800|
|Max. torque (Nm)||430Nm @ 1750||500Nm @ 1600|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||56||66|
The Jaguar XE diesel actually does a pretty good job at what it is built for. It gives you a taste of the Jaguar aura of opulence and speed. It has all the bells and whistles that come standard for the segment and a cabin that reminds you of a speedboat. Add the dynamic handling of the Jaguar to the equation and top it up with the gorgeous proportions of the XE and you have a proposition that is just too attractive.
It is not that the Jaguar is unrivalled. Running interference here is the comfort-focussed Mercedes-Benz C-Class which offers a soft ride and more cabin space. The BMW 320d also works pretty well trying to find the perfect balance between ride, space and handling while the Audi A4 aims for tech and bling. So, if, making a statement and loving it is your style, the Jaguar XE is the car for you. It might not be the most spacious in its segment, nor does it have the best ride or horsepower. But then it has its own unique proposition that suits a select class of buyers who prefer a bit of style and exclusivity over downright practicality.
Photos By Kapil Angane .