Jaguar XE 2016 review
Ewan Kennedy road tests and reviews the Jaguar XE with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch.
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The top of the range 2.0 TFSI Quattro is expected to be the top-seller and goes up against BMW's 330i and Mercedes' C250.
The A4 range starts off with a 1.4 TFSI front-wheel drive ($55,500), proceeds to the 140kW 2.0 TFSI “high efficiency” ($60,900, 5.3l/100km) and then adds a pair of Quattros in the form of the 2.0 TDI ($66,900) and then the car we had, the 185kW 2.0 TFSI at $69,900.
Packed into the four-door sedan (until the Avant arrives later in the year) is a ten-speaker stereo with bluetooth, DAB and dual standard USB ports, 8.3-inch screen with satnav, 19-inch alloys, three-zone climate control, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry and start, cruise control, power front seats, LED headlamps, auto headlights and wipers, leather trim, sports seats and wireless hotspot (for which you need a SIM card)
Our car had (deep breath), the S-Line Sport package which adds lots of S-Line bits, different alloys and Alcantara trim for $1420; fine Nappa leather for $1500; Assistance Package adds active lane assist, adaptive cruise with stop and go, distance indicator, turn assist, collision avoidance and high beam assist for $1900; Parking Assistance which adds 360-degree camera and auto parking for $950; Matrix LED headlights ($1700); colour interior lighting package for $400; Technik package which installs the fully digital Virtual Cockpit dashboard and heads-up display for $2100; privacy glass ($1100), sport adaptive damping ($1100), sunroof ($1950), B&O 3D sound system ($1500) and metallic paint for $1420.
Grand total? $92,791. Ow.
As has been pointed out by just about everyone who has seen the A4, it doesn't look a lot different to the old one. Despite being built on an all-new platform and being the first all-new A4 in living memory (okay, eight years), it seems clear that someone pinned up an evolution chart in the mood room where the designers get their inspirations.
Take a closer look, though, and you'll see that the crisp lines of the old car have been further sharpened. The headlights have a jagged edge and a pair of ice axe daytime running lights, the grille is wider and lower, the wheel arches subtly flared, the character line runs along the car's shoulder from front to back. The bonnet is now a clamshell design rather than the normal type, removing the shutline from the top of the guards and making them a part of car's character line.
Yes, it does require a closer look. You'll probably not notice the 23mm increase in length but rear seat passengers will appreciate the extra legroom from the slightly longer wheelbase.
Inside you will definitely notice the change. It's a completely different experience, with a lighter approach to dashboard architecture, one already seen in the Q7. Vents run from passenger door right to the dashboard cowl, with the bulk blowing diffuse rather than fast-moving air into the cabin. A blade of aluminium bisects the dashboard and on top of that sits an 8.3-inch screen.
The front seats are tremendously comfortable and taller folk will enjoy the extra 24mm of headroom.
There's four cupholders for all your beveraging needs, with two up front and two in the centre rear armrest - heaven knows unspilt coffee is far more important than a fifth occupant. Each door has a pocket, but not generous enough for a bottle. The boot holds 480 litres which, coincidentally matches its C-Class and 3 Series rivals to the litre.
Eight airbags (including side airbags for the rear passengers), front and rear collision mitigation (including pedestrian and cyclist detection), stability and traction controls, brake force distribution, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic detection, ABS, attention assist and tyre pressure loss indicator.
All A4s also come with exit warning system where the door-mounted LED lighting flashes to tell you that a cyclist or another car is approaching.
The optional Assistance Package added lane assist which gently steers you back from a lane leaving faux-pas, adaptive cruise that almost drives the car itself in slow traffic, distance indicator in the heads-up to keep you back from the car in front, turn assist to stop you turning across oncoming traffic and collision avoidance which helps to brake and steer out of a crash as long as the computer is confident it can help and you don't fight back. The A4 carries a five star ANCAP rating.
Along with the 12.3-inch screen that replaces the dashboard, there's an 8.3-inch screen for the MMI. This includes both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as Audi's standard stereo functionality which controls Bluetooth devices. There's a satnav which can overlay Google Earth on the maps as well as keep you updated with traffic conditions as long as you've got a SIM card in it.
The B&O 3D sound system which quadruples the wattage and almost doubles the speaker count to 19 is an improvement on the already perfectly acceptable speaker set that comes as standard.
For now, the top of the range is this 2.0 litre four-cylinder turbo, generating 185kW and 370Nm. Audi says you'll find 100km/h in 5.8 seconds while using fuel at a rate of 6.3L/100km.
Its 1510kg is moved along by all four-wheels which are in turn fed the engine's force via a seven-speed twin clutch transmission.
Lighter, faster, more responsive and with a massively improved ride, the A4 is a completely new feeling car. Built on Audi's MQB Evo platform – with parts shared with the new Q7 and new TT - this huge update qualifies as new-from-the-ground-up as far as the A4 is concerned.
While the ride and handling have improved immensely, it's possible to enjoy the latter a lot more with a vastly improved steering feel. The Quattro drivetrain is as good as ever but the tyres have better contact with the road and with a bit more rear bias, particularly in Dynamic mode, there's less understeer.
The 19-inch wheels, fat rubber and sport-adaptive suspension (which drops the ride height 20mm) do little to either upset the hushed cabin or the composed ride. The stiffer springs and harder damper tune certainly isn't magic carpet smooth, but has a better overall ride than, say, a similarly-equipped BMW 330i.
The 2.0 TFSI is close to lag-free and a strong performer, with terrific mid-range torque and an improved 7-speed dual-clutch auto transmission, which is just as comfortable pottering around the suburbs as it is being manually down-shifted via the steering wheel paddles as you brake hard into your favourite hairpin.
The new B9-series A4 is an instant hit with the critics not only because it's so much better than the previous car but because it moves the game along. BMW in particular will need to get a hurry-on by adding more stuff to its base model while offering more of the impressive gadgets available at the top end.
In isolation, the A4 is a terrific car, with a combination of understated good looks, excellent chassis and powerful engine. Audi's new models keep on closing the gap and that's great news for everyone.
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