What is it?
Why I would buy it?
Exclusivity of Jaguar badge, torquey diesel engine
Why I would avoid it?
Insufficient space at the rear
It’s a diesel-powered version of Jaguar’s entry-level sedan. When the automaker had launched the car in 2016, it had been brought in with only petrol power and as a sporty alternative to the other members in the entry-level premium sedan segment. However, to really get into the volumes game, Jaguar had to bring in a diesel which is what this model is. Putting the ‘I’ in diesel is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit from the Ingenium family of motors that Jaguar debuted with the XE and F-Pace.
It may be the diesel powered XE, but that has not killed any of its looks and that is something that Jaguar is known for. All around, you can see hints of the XF and XJ which is not a deal breaker at all as both are quite good looking themselves. The signature horseshoe grille and muscular lines on the bonnet dominate the face while in profile, you can see that the positioning of the A-pillar is in conjunction with the long hood gives the car a GT feel.
The family look is visible at the rear as you get the same tail lamps in the F-Pace and obviously in the F-Type sportscar too. The off-set tail pipes and subtle lip spoiler are all elements seen in other Jaguar models and are signature elements from the Ian Callum school of design.
How is it on the inside?
Given that one of the XE’s main selling points is looks, it does not disappoint in the cabin. You get a speedboat style cowl running across both ends of the dashboard while the beige and black colour scheme present both on the upholstery and plastics does well to up the premium factor in the cabin. Of particular notice is the ‘Theater of dreams’ floating gear knob which pulsates when it rises from the dashboard as you start the car.
In terms of features you get everything that is standard in the segment like dual-zone climate control with dual rear vents, electric seats (sans lumbar support), instrument cluster with digital display cruise control and a touchscreen infotainment system with smart phone integration and downloadable apps. The infotainment system has all the requisite features to put it on par with its rivals, but still lacks the finesse of its German counterparts.
The front seats offer good bolstering and thanks to the soft leather, you can sink right in and devour the kilometres on the highway as you go along. However, the rear seats are a different story as they feel inadequate especially, for a six-footer like me - a fact enhanced by the sloping roofline that eats into the head room. In fact, a larger person would have to angle their head in an odd way during ingress and egress to get around lack of head space.
What's it like to drive?
Well this is the ´new´ part of the car. The 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel mill produes 177bhp@4000rpm and a meaty 430Nm of torque @1750rpm. The XE range sold in India is purely RWD and this is achieved through an eight-speed ZF automatic.
You get a great big heft of torque at 2000rpm mark and depending on how you have your foot on the throttle and your driving mode you can push the car into three-digit speeds pretty easily. In the eco mode the throttle is restrained and the car upshifts early while in the dynamic mode your shift point comes in at a higher RPM. With the sport mode activated you can hold the revvs all the way till the red line and then let the gearbox shift or do it yourself using the paddles behind the steering wheel. At the other end of the spectrum when you want things a bit more relaxed you can let the gearbox do its thing with it keeping the revvs well below the 2000rpm mark even at 120kmph.
Despite an underlying firmness, the ride is not back breaking as Jaguar has managed to find a balance which will not affect the handling of the car or the car’s image as a sporty option among the pack. You get a really responsive steering through which you can feel everything that’s going and as you build up the speed, it gets heavier and responds accordingly, egging you on to push the car.
We had initially thought that the NVH insulation was lacking, but after switching from concrete roads to tarmac and there was a marked difference in terms of noise filtering into the cabin. But with an ‘adjusted for India’ suspension and 17-inch wheels, you do end up hearing the car hit all the potholes and imperfections quite loudly.
Should I buy one?
Jaguar is a bit late to the game but has put enough weight behind the XE to give the car whatever it takes to succeed in the segment. In the Indian market, you will always stand out with the Jaguar badge simply because of its exclusivity in terms of presence. As a product, the diesel XE is fun to drive and efficient, albeit a bit unrefined when you look at the competition.