Jaguar has a rich history of building luxurious saloons, but when it has tried to cater for the mass market with smaller models it generally hasn’t done so well.

Indeed, before the XE arrived three years ago, the brand’s only real attempt at downsizing was the X-Type, which never sold as strongly as intended.

In the X-Type era the firm was owned by Ford, but since Tata took over a decade ago Jaguar’s approach has changed, and so has the market. The cars are better than ever but, with saloons falling out of favour as buyers migrate to SUVs, the XE competes in a shrinking segment that’s dominated by some very talented contenders – so should you consider buying one?

Models covered

  • • Jaguar XE Mk1 (2015-date) – Compact exec is a fine choice as a second-hand premium family car.

Jaguar XE Mk1

History

The first XEs were delivered in June 2015, and while there was a 335bhp supercharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol edition (the XE S) topping the range, virtually all models featured an Ingenium four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine. The petrol version came in 197bhp or 237bhp forms, and the diesel was produced in 161bhp or 178bhp guises.

Just five months later revisions were announced, with a bigger 10.2-inch touchscreen becoming optional, plus four-wheel drive on the high-powered diesel engine, which could be selected with a manual or automatic gearbox.

In February 2017 a 295bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine was added to the range, the 3.0-litre V6 S was upgraded to 375bhp and a 237bhp twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel arrived, badged 25d.

Jaguar XE reviews

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Jaguar XE 20t review
Jaguar XE S review
Jaguar XE R-Sport review
Jaguar XE Portfolio review
Jaguar XE AWD review
Jaguar XE SV Project 8 review

Which one should I buy?

We wouldn’t steer you away from any engine, and while both manuals and autos are good, most buyers want the latter. As a result, if you buy a manual XE you may have trouble selling it on later – and the petrol engine wasn’t offered with a manual in any case.

The entry-level SE features cruise control, 17-inch alloys, rear parking sensors, cloth trim, automatic lights and wipers, and navigation. Prestige adds leather and heated front seats, while the R-Sport has bi-xenon headlights, sport suspension and sportier styling inside and out. Portfolio spec also has electrically adjustable front seats, an upgraded multimedia system and a soft-touch dash. All XEs feature AEB, but a spare wheel is an optional extra.

Alternatives to the Jaguar XE Mk1

Jaguar’s biggest problem is the existence of the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, all of which are available with a wide range of engines and in saloon or estate form. They’re all well equipped, solidly built, safe and good to drive; while the Mercedes and BMW are rear-wheel drive, the Audi is front-wheel drive, although the latter two are available with four-wheel drive. Also consider the sharply styled Mazda 6 and the hybrid Lexus IS

What to look for 

Infotainment

Multimedia system can be clunky, with Bluetooth connection giving the most problems.

Stop/start

Issues with the stop/start can be caused by battery drain. Some owners use trickle chargers.

Gaps

Poor panel alignment is surprisingly common, especially where bonnet meets headlights and front panel.

Condensation

Poor weather sealing can cause the high-level brake light to fill up with condensation. 

Interior

The XE’s cabin isn’t the most spacious in the class and there are some low-quality plastics, but it has an appealing design and is well screwed together. Its layout is intuitive, even if the infotainment system isn’t, and most cars have leather trim, which really improves the ambience. Boot space is disappointing, at 455 litres, and it’s awkwardly shaped as well.

 

Running costs

All 2.0d XEs need servicing every two years or 21,000 miles. Petrol cars cut this to every 12 months, with a 10,000-mile cap for the 2.0 and a 16,000-mile cap for the V6. Checks alternate between minor and major, at £390 and £450 for the diesels, or £390 and £515 for the petrols. All engines are chain driven, but coolant needs changing every decade (£300) and brake fluid every two years (£60). Look for an XE with a five-year service deal.

Recalls

The XE has been recalled six times. The first was over problems with fuel leaks, the engine stalling and lost brake servo assistance. Seatbelt pre-tensioner failures led to the second and third recalls in May and December 2016. Fuel leaks brought the fourth and fifth in February and May 2017, while the most recent recall in October 2017 regarded possible instrument cluster failures.

Driver Power owner satisfaction

The XE didn’t make it into this year’s Driver Power satisfaction survey, but it did rank an impressive 25th in the 2017 poll. Fourth place for ride and handling shows how good the Jag is to drive, plus owners rated the infotainment, safety features and running costs. They were critical of the car’s interior and limited practicality.

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