The new Jaguar XE Diesel Saloon is typically Jaguar in so many ways; it looks amazing, drives well and sports a gorgeous interior. As a bonus, it’s both affordable to buy and run.
It’s actually a brand new model from the brand who needed something to take on the likes of the Alfa Romeo Giulia and the Audi A4. If you like the idea of a fresh contender in the luxury compact car sector, this one could be for you.
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OSV takes a closer look at what it’s all about with our 2018 Jaguar XE Diesel Saloon review.
Overview of the Jaguar XE Diesel Saloon
On the Road
The XE feels sporty but it’s also comfortable, with Jaguar getting the blend between the two just right. It’s perhaps not the absolute sharpest in this class, but few of its rivals get the balance between comfort and driver involvement as right as the XE.
The accurate steering is well-weighted and responds quickly to your inputs, and the Jag is agile in bends. Buyers can choose from a 6-speed manual gearbox and an 8-speed automatic, with the latter being our top pick. It’s just so easy to live with, shifting gears with speed and smoothness. Drivers can also take control themselves with paddles that are mounted behind the wheel.
Stick to the manual ‘box, on the other hand, and your gear changes will be a bit slower.
All models come with the brand’s JaguarDrive system. This is a system that lets you flick between four different driving modes – Standard, Eco, Dynamic and Winter – to alter how the car feels on the road.
Four-wheel-drive, meanwhile, is an optional extra that we’re not sure is worth adding. It really doesn’t change much, with power only being sent to the front wheels each time the rear wheels lose grip – which won’t be too often.
In terms of its engines, a 2.0-litre diesel kicks things off. In entry-level guise, it develops 161bhp and has a 0-62 time of 8.4 seconds if you stick to the manual. Specify the automatic transmission and that time improves to 8.2 seconds.
A 178bhp variant is next up. It’s available with either the manual or automatic ‘box, and both versions have a 0-62 time of 7.8 seconds. Four-wheel-drive can be specified, and doing so slows the car down a tad.
Rounding off the range is a 25d diesel model that develops 237bhp, and which has a 0-62 time of 6.1 seconds.
Jaguar XE Diesel Saloon Interior, Design and Build
One of the standout things about the XE is its interior. This is a genuinely upmarket cabin that offers a real sense of occasion and prestige. As ever, typical Jaguar features are all present and correct, such as the rotary automatic gear selector, while the comfortable seats are complemented by a sporty driving position.
Fit and finish is excellent, the wraparound dash further enhances the idea that this is a real driver’s car, and buyers can choose from various upholstery choices.
The centre console is probably a bit bigger than is necessary, but the sophisticated blue ambient lighting is another classy touch. All models come with a user-friendly 8” touchscreen, and while there are one or two usability issues – for example, the driver’s side air vent is just too low – this is an excellent cabin overall.
Is the Jaguar XE Diesel Saloon practical? This is a compact exec saloon, so don’t expect practicality to be amazing. It is, however, competitive for this class.
Those up front, in particular, get treated to lots of room, but adults in the rear might find that things are a bit cramped back there. Any middle seated passenger will be restricted by a wide tunnel that runs along the floor. Headroom is also an issue for anyone in the rear.
Storage space is reasonable but the rear door openings are less so. Families will struggle to fit a child seat into the car.
The boot, meanwhile, measures 455-litres. It’s a deep boot that comes with a low load lip, and a folding middle seat should prove handy.
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Equipment and Safety of the Jaguar XE Diesel Saloon
Standard kit is good across the range. The entry-level model comes with sat-nav, a digital radio, a 10” TouchPro touchscreen infotainment system, JaguarDrive control and cruise control.
The Prestige model adds heated leather seats, sports suspension and leather upholstery, while the XE 300 Sport model is strictly petrol-only. It nets you different alloys, painted brake callipers and a revised interior.
In terms of how safe the car is, it was awarded all five stars by Euro NCAP for its crash-test performance. It scored especially well for adult occupant protection (92%).
Automatic emergency braking comes as standard on all models, as does traffic sign recognition and lane departure warning. Blind spot monitoring is standard as well, as are rear parking sensors, but a rear parking camera and front sensors are optional extras.
Costs of the Jaguar XE Diesel Saloon
Prices for the new car start out from £28,295 and rise to £40,775. For more information on our leasing deals, you can check out our page here.
In terms of its running costs, the 2.0-litre 161bhp diesel is the cheapest engine to buy and run. It returns 58.9mpg at best if you specify the 6-speed manual gearbox and emits 126/km of CO2. This gives it a BiK rating of 27%.
The bigger 20d model develops a hearty 178bhp but can still return as much as 55.4mpg on a good day. It emits 135/km of CO2 and has a BiK rating of 29%. Adding four-wheel-drive alters its figures to 51.4mpg and 145g/km of CO2, while its BiK rating changes to 31%.
Pros and Cons of the Jaguar XE Diesel Saloon
The steering is accurate and it’s a car that’s fun to drive.
The diesels aren’t too loud at all.
Both diesels return over 55mpg from mixed driving.
Taller adults will struggle on longer trips
Fairly small boot
At 455-litres, it’s one of the smallest in this class.
Jaguar XE Diesel Saloon vs Audi A4 Diesel Saloon vs Alfa Romeo Giulia Diesel Saloon
Let’s see how the car compares with its rivals in the comparison section of our 2018 Jaguar XE Diesel Saloon review.
Jaguar XE Diesel Saloon vs Audi A4 Diesel Saloon
The new Audi A4 Diesel Saloon has one big advantage over the Jag – it’s got the best cabin in this class.
It’s also no mug on the road, with Audi improving both its performance and handling so that it no longer feels as numb. It wasn’t so great to drive last time around but the engineers have done a good job in sharpening up its steering. There’s also now more communication, although specifying the active steering option actually makes it feel more artificial.
The suspension setup has also been softened up, but don’t worry – body lean is minimal too.
In terms of its engines, there are four diesels on offer, but we think a 2.0-litre should just about cover things for most buyers. It’s available in two guises, and we like both the 148 and the 187bhp variants. They’re smooth and quiet.
A 3.0-litre V6 diesel is naturally more exciting and you can get it with either 215 or 268bhp. The latter is incredibly quick for a car of this type and can motor its way from a standstill to 62mph in 5.3 seconds. It also comes with four-wheel drive as standard.
Running costs? The 2.0-litre diesel in entry-level guise is one of the cheapest cars to run in this sector. It can return as much as 74.3mpg on a good day and emits as little as 106g/km of CO2. That gives it a BiK rating of 23%. The bigger 187bhp variant of the same engine is good for returns of 67.3mpg economy.
Inside, the A4 is impeccable. This is a five-star interior that boasts excellent build quality, a fresh and attractive design, as well as lots of advanced modern tech.
The dashboard is much more minimal than it used to be, with Audi removing a lot of the clutter from years gone by. It now oozes class with a more restrained design.
Meanwhile, the Virtual Cockpit continues to be a big selling point that’s better than any similar feature in the Jag.
Is the Audi A4 Diesel Saloon practical? It’s longer and wider than last time, which means that rear head and legroom is better. Taller adults can now sit in comfort on longer trips, while up front the driver benefits from lots of adjustment from the seat and the wheel.
Storage space is a bit mean, and the glovebox, in particular, is on the small side. The boot, meanwhile, measures 480-litres. That’s competitive for this class, but much like most exec saloons, it’s not easy to use.
Jaguar – £28,295 – £40,775
Audi – £27,810 – £43,500
Jaguar XE Diesel Saloon vs Alfa Romeo Giulia Diesel Saloon
The new Alfa Romeo Giulia Diesel Saloon does have sex appeal, fun and luxury in equal measure. It’s a real treat of a car that’s also got a dash of Italian personality.
The Giulia is easily one of the best cars to drive in this sector, but what we like about it is how the brand have managed to blend performance with comfort so well.
A rear-wheel-drive layout is key to its appeal, and the Giulia is able to offer the kind of “pure” driving experience that enthusiasts crave. In practically every condition, this car is a joy to drive. Moreover, it’s so light, which further enhances its on-the-road abilities.
In terms of its engines, there’s just one diesel to choose from but it’s available in two separate power guises. The smallest of the two develops 148bhp and completes the 0-62 dash in 8.2 seconds, while the bigger of the two develops 178bhp and competes the same sprint in 7.1 seconds.
Both are good engines, but because the 178bhp variant has more zip, it’s our top pick.
Running costs? Both diesels are able to return 67mpg economy on a good day and emit just 109g/km of CO2. They also both have a BiK rating of 23%. However, the car is more expensive to insure and sits in groups 22 to 28.
Inside, the car is very driver focused. Some of the controls and the 6.5” central display are angled towards you and everything is easy to access and use.
The top spec models come with an 8.8” infotainment screen, and the fact that it’s hidden behind glass gives the cabin a sense of occasion to match the Jaguar.
Is the Alfa Romeo Giulia Diesel Saloon practical? No car has a longer wheelbase in this class, and all adults – up front and in the rear – have plenty of room. In fact, head and legroom is generous.
The boot, meanwhile, measures 480-litres which puts it on par with its rivals. A high load lip will make things awkward for you, but the opening is nice and wide.
Alfa Romeo – £29,875 – £61,595
Verdict of our 2018 Jaguar XE Diesel Saloon Review
It’s hard to call the XE a 5-star car because it does come with one or two issues. Practicality could be better and the interior feels a bit dated compared to rivals. However, once you’re inside the car and up and running, you’ll soon start to appreciate what an excellent all-rounder it is.
It’s stylish, comfortable and great to drive. Does the Jaguar XE Diesel Saloon excel in the right areas? That’ll come down to your priorities.