Used examples of the Jaguar XE are now available from £7000
This slick and engaging saloon never quite took off when new, but it’s now a bargain
You would have thought that a compact, relatively affordable and positively decent-to-drive Jag would have set the sales charts alight. But since its 2015 launch, the XE has played second fiddle to its executive-car rivals, the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, even on home turf.
Odd, that, because this suave four-door saloon ticks many of the boxes buyers of such cars would go for: it’s good looking, it has a premium badge and it comes handsomely equipped.
However, if new car customers were too easily swayed elsewhere, used car buyers can now put a good example on their driveway for buttons.
Initially, petrol options ranged from a choice of 2.0-litre engines in three states of tune: 197bhp, 237bhp and 296bhp. If that wasn’t enough, a swift supercharged 3.0-litre V6 S dispatched 335bhp, or 375bhp in post-2017 form. Diesel options included three differing 2.0-litre engines: a slightly lacklustre 161bhp unit, a punchy but gruff 178bhp version and a 237bhp four-wheel-drive option that was swift but thirsty.
Entry-level SE cars come with 17in alloys, dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers and cruise control. Step up to Prestige for leather upholstery and heated front seats. R-Sport models get xenon headlights, a sports styling kit, 18in alloys and sports seats, while Portfolio adds an upgraded sound system and fully electric seat adjustment. It’s on the road that the refined XE shines brightest.
While other executive saloons cars are better finished and more spacious, none handles as sweetly: if you’re after a sporty executive saloon, then look no further. The steering is fluent, consistent and uncorrupted, and the XE’s balance and precision when cornering, allied to expertly judged body control, are a fine compromise against a mostly supple and quiet ride.
The car’s interior is pleasant and fairly luxurious, if not quite up to those of the car’s German rivals. The black plastics and leathers can be a bit plain, admittedly, but lighter and more visually appealing two-tone upholsteries are also offered. The car’s switchgear is all either grained or rubberised, and its instruments are pleasingly conventional and clear.
Occupant space for the driver is adequate, but snug rather than generous, while a slightly highmounted seat combines with a typically graceful swooping Jaguar roofline to limit headroom for taller drivers. In the rear, space is short of the standard of the most practical compact executive saloons, so fullsized adults may struggle a bit for knee and headroom. The boot is a fair size but the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series offer more cargo space.
In 2019 the XE received a major facelift, with styling tweaks inside and out, plus new touchscreens and upgraded materials for the interior. The engine range was reduced to a single diesel, the 178bhp D180, and two petrols, the 247bhp P250, and the 296bhp P300, all available in rear or four-wheel-drive forms. In 2020 a 201bhp 2.0-litre mild-hybrid diesel, the D200, joined the range, replacing the D180. The trims were revised to R-Dynamic S, SE, HSE and Black.
Our top spec
Prestige: All XEs get plenty of equipment, but of the earlier cars, Prestige models feel a little bit more premium than entry-level SE, and it suits the car better.
Need to know
Early high-mileage XEs cost from £7k, £8-12k-plus gets cars from 2016 or ’17, £14-£16k nets a 2018 car. Pay at least £25k for 2020/’21 cars, a bit more for a 2022.
The P250 averages 34.2mpg, the P300 30.1mpg and the D200 a respectable 57.9mpg.
What Car?’s latest reliability survey put petrol XEs eighth in the executive class, but diesels were 24th out of 26. Jaguar as a brand was 26th out of 32. Not awful, but it doesn’t inspire tons of confidence.
Recalls: There have been several recalls for the XE. A number of examples produced from the start of production until 2018 might have a problem emitting the correct levels of CO2, but a software update to the engine should rectify this. A technical issue on vehicles made between 2016 and 2017 can lead to the instrument cluster going blank intermittently. Again, a software update should be able to sort this issue too.
There have been a few recalls relating to fuel leaks. The first is due to a fuel return hose that could leak on models built between 2016 and 2017. The second is for petrol models constructed between September 2016 and August 2017, on which the fuel rail can leak. The third and final leak-related recall is to do with the fuel cooler fitted to early diesel XEs made until July 2016. The fuel feed could detach on some cars produced until February 2016, and any affected XE will need to have an extra clamp fitted to the relevant hose at a Jaguar dealer to sort this issue.
There have been two recalls for seatbelt pre-tensioners not operating correctly in a collision. The first applies to XEs made between February and December 2016, while the second relates only to the driver’s seatbelt on cars constructed between September 2015 and March 2016. In all cases, speak to a Jaguar dealer to find out if your car is affected.
2.0 D 180: We’d step up to the 178bhp 2.0 diesel. It’s usefully quicker than the lower-powered car yet almost as efficient. Go for the auto ’box if you can – it’s more relaxing and just as enjoyable to drive.
XE S: Pump up the Jag with a 335bhp (375bhp in later versions) 3.0 V6 and you’ll see 0 to 62mph in 5.1sec. You’ll get a sports bodykit and plenty of extra luxuries inside too. Oh, and terrific handling.