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Jaguar XE 2015 review

EXPERT RATING
7
Joshua Dowling road tests and reviews the 2015 Jaguar XE at its Australian launch with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

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No woodgrain trim, no clicking of an analogue clock. Meet the new generation of Jaguar.

We've heard the promise of a new start before. But this time things are different.

The proud British brand is now owned by Indian conglomerate Tata after 18 years of Ford ownership. With a fresh injection of cash and set free from Ford bureaucracy, Jaguar has been able to set its own course.

History shows Jaguar hasn't always prospered when left to its own devices (it was almost bankrupt before Ford bought it in 1990) but it's learned a lot since then.

This car is Jaguar's second attempt at the lucrative medium-size luxury sedan market.

The previous iteration from 2001 to 2010, the X-Type, was quite literally a Ford Mondeo with a Jaguar body, Jaguar woodgrain dash, and Jaguar-smelling leather seats.

Much like a knock-off handbag or an imitation watch, buyers could spot the difference between a real Jaguar and the X-Type.

When it didn't sell in sufficient numbers, Jaguar shelved plans for a successor, which is why the brand has been absent in the medium-size luxury sedan class until the new owners came along.

The new Jaguar XE will underpin at least two other models

The name XE may bring back memories of Ford Falcons from the 1980s, but this is the future of Jaguar in more ways than one. 

It will underpin at least two other models: the slightly larger, second-generation XF sedan (another coincidental Falcon reference), and the all-new F-Pace SUV due in local showrooms by the middle of 2016.

So the pressure to get this model right cannot be understated. 

Aside from the future of the company riding on the XE, Jaguar is taking aim once again at the sacred ground held by the German marques Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, all of whom have been building these type of sedans much better and for much longer.

Family and fleet sedans such as the Ford Falcon, Holden Commodore and Toyota Camry may be passé, but some buyers at least are migrating to the same type of car with a prestige badge.

Incredibly, despite costing more than $60,000, the Mercedes-Benz C Class is Australia's second most popular mid-size sedan after the Camry and ahead of cheaper alternatives such as the Subaru Liberty, Mazda6, and Ford Mondeo.

Price and equipment

With ample time to study its rivals it should come as no surprise Jaguar has largely hit the mark when it comes to price and equipment.

There are four models and four engine choices ranging from $60,400 to $104,200 plus on-road costs, which either shadow or marginally undercut the XE's German peers.

Standard fare on even the most basic XE includes automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, front and rear parking sensors, a rear view camera with guiding lines that turn, parallel and perpendicular automatic parking, 10-way electric adjustment for the driver seat, sensor key, premium audio, navigation with touchscreen, 40-20-40 split-fold back seats, electric park brake, the list goes on.

The only blot we've noticed so far is the XE has six airbags whereas as the class-leading Mercedes has nine (the C Class gains an airbag for the driver's knee and thorax airbags for back seat passengers). 

Due to the vagaries of European NCAP crash test requirements, the XE will likely get a five-star rating even without the extra airbags of the Benz.

Service intervals are unusually long (up to two years or 34,000km between oil changes) but the costs are low ($1100 to $1350 for the first three years).

There is also a guaranteed buy-back scheme over three or four years, providing the car is well maintained and doesn't exceed 20,000km per annum. 

Factory-backed extended warranty that takes coverage from three years/unlimited kilometres to five years/unlimited kilometres costs $2500.

On the road

Jaguar has made every effort to revive its reputation as a maker of sporting sedans with this new model.

About 75 per cent of the XE's body is made from aluminium. The doors and part of the rear structure are steel in an attempt to balance the XE's front-to-rear weight distribution like a sports-car.

The front suspension is borrowed from Jaguar's F-Type coupe and convertible, and the electric power steering hardware is also a straight swap from its sibling.

While the XE may look like a Honda Accord or a Ford Falcon from the rear, the gaping grille and sleek headlights are Jaguar's new signature, even if there's a hint of BMW 3 Series if you squint.

Inside, the design is simple and functional. It doesn't have quite the same upmarket appearance as the Mercedes C Class but it's a step above the BMW 3 Series and more unique than the Audi A4.

Back seat space is tight when the front seats are at their rear-most point, but I could fit behind my own seating position with a little room to spare.

The 2.0-litre turbo petrol and turbo diesel engines are not the most refined but nor are they worst in class.

Their response feels much the same as their peers with the same types of engines; the eight-speed auto wasn't jerky in our preview drive even though it has so many ratios to skip through.

The flagship supercharged 3.0 V6 has plenty of oomph if you like to get to the speed limit in a hurry, but it's not a rival to the BMW M3 or Mercedes AMG C63.

The Jaguar XE 'S' (for supercharged) is the next tier down from those manic machines.

Despite the XE's relatively light body mass (1500kg to 1603kg) it still feels like a sedan rather than a sports car in tight, twisty corners. (It's also not as economical as it could be given the light weight and the eight-speed auto).

In terms of driving dynamics, based on a preview drive, I'd slot the Jaguar XE somewhere between the sharpness of the Lexus IS250 and the plushness of the Mercedes C Class.

Verdict

This isn't Jaguar's second genuine attempt at a mid-size luxury car. It's the first.

Pricing Guides

$36,990
Based on 45 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$28,988
Highest Price
$44,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
20D Prestige 2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $33,990 – 36,990 2015 Jaguar XE 2015 20D Prestige Pricing and Specs
20D R-Sport 2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $33,980 – 42,990 2015 Jaguar XE 2015 20D R-Sport Pricing and Specs
20T Prestige 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $28,988 – 34,950 2015 Jaguar XE 2015 20T Prestige Pricing and Specs
20T R-Sport 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $31,570 – 38,060 2015 Jaguar XE 2015 20T R-Sport Pricing and Specs

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EXPERT RATING
7
Pricing Guide

$28,988

Lowest price, based on 45 car listings in the last 6 months

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