One Hot Cat

Jaguar’s new factory has risen to the occasion with a new verve for life and the XE model that makes Bob purr with pleasure

My earliest memory of a Jaguar was sitting in my uncle’s XJ and the pouncing big cat sitting proudly on the front of the bonnet. It just looked so cool to a young boy.

Sitting in his XJ was out of this world; the carpets were thick pile and the leather just had the most amazing smell ever. The dashboard was made up of the finest wood and the car as a whole just screamed luxury.

Another memory that sticks in my mind is him filling up his XJ and the twin tanks; he would literally fill both sides of the car up. Unusual yes, but to a young lad it was like something from a sci-fi movie. I loved the smell of petrol as well – no wonder I have become a true petrolhead! Jaguar though, hasn’t been good at making small cars. The X-type was a terrible looking car, based on the Ford Mondeo.

The X-type managed to ruin the brand and it really did Jaguar no favours at all. It looked like a scaled down version of the XJ and it wasn’t cool or ground-breaking at all. The market is dominated by the BMW 3-series and the Mercedes C Class and Jaguar can’t afford a half-hearted attempt at this all-important market again.

With the new XE they appear to be making all of the right noises. It’s a rear wheel drive with a four wheel drive version in the pipeline. A new factory has been built to make the cars meaning new engines and vitally, new jobs, as the four wheel drive version of the XE will be made in the new factory.

At first glance you’d be forgiven for mistaking the XE for the existing XF model. Upon closer inspection though, the XE is lower, longer and wider and looking at the front of the car it is pure Jaguar. The mean, aggressive lights mirroring the spying eyes of the cat after which it is named. It seems the designers put all the nastiness into the front end as the back is quite uninspiring.

The car overall looks very sporty with large, thick alloy wheels and subtle, yet noticeable curves in the bodywork. Aluminium has been used extensively in the XE with only the boot floor and the suspension sub frame sitting on steel. Despite this extensive use of aluminium the XE weighs the same as its arch rival, the 3-series.

This was partly due to the use of technically advanced multi-link suspension. The XE is being launched with two diesel engines and three petrol engines.

The engines’ BHP ranges from 161 all the way up to 325 for the range-topping 3LT engine with the high-powered diesel engine expected to be the bestseller. It’s fairly rapid reaching 62mph in 7.4 seconds and maxes out at an impressive top speed of 142 mph.

A 6-speed manual comes as standard and an 8-speed automatic gearbox is an additional option at £1750, a choice I expect most people to take up.

The manual gearbox is on par with BMW’s but the automatic feels ideally suited to the XE with perfect ratios and quick, smooth gear changes.

Step inside the car and you will notice both the dash and steering wheel have been taken straight from the F Type. They say imitation is the best form of flattery though and it doesn’t look out of place here. The 8” touchscreen which controls the Sat-Nav features sharp graphics and an easy to use and understand interface.

One good feature is the ability to use your phones apps via the touchscreen – ideal for the business audience that Jaguar likes to target.

The car’s self-parking function was very accurate and a great toy to show off to passengers. The auto city brake works very well indeed with a stereoscopic camera that allows the car to recognise cross traffic hazards, assisting in slamming on the anchors at the first sign of trouble.

The curving rear roofline eats into the back seat headroom, resulting in a layout more suited as a comfortable four seater rather than an out-and-out five seater. Vitally for a business car, the XE also has a decent boot easily swallowing up a couple of golf bags, with room to spare for a briefcase or two.

This car really relishes tight and twisty roads – give it some open bends and it really comes into its own. The steering is very responsive indeed especially when you consider it is actually an electrically powered system.

The base model is the SE and it’s priced from £26,990 and the range-topping car coming in at £45,000. The SE comes with a decent amount of spec, Sat-Nav, DAB radio, climate control, emergency braking, lane departure warning and finally 17” alloy wheels all as standard. The Prestige is next followed by the Portfolio and the R Sport is the range topper.

I really enjoyed driving the XE and I am so happy to say it’s a genuine 3-series competitor. This car will be very popular and it’s going to be real Beemer beater. There is an extensive waiting list just to drive this car!


Car supplied by Stratstone Jaguar Newcastle | stratstone.newcastle.jaguar.co.uk

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