We land in Basque, the northern part of Spain, Navarra, to have a first glance on the new entry-car from the British automaker: Jaguar. The long-awaited Jaguar XE seems to have a rough mission contending alongside some of the well-established, hi-tech and driver-focused cars on planet earth. But we all do believe that the company's vision for the past four years has the faith to deliver! I honestly fancy the GT-like tactic Jaguar has put into the XE.
Jaguar's executives are positioning the XE directly versus Germans such as 3-Series, C-Class and A4. But honestly speaking if I want to dissect and tell what I saw and felt, I can put it in a different approach. The 3 Series' interior is becoming outdated, Audi's A4 has a gorgeous interior and we all know that Audi's been investing a lot on their interiors. If we compare it to the C-Class, I can say that the C-Class is a bit far as it has a very futuristic and magnificent interior. So I would rather start looking at some other rivals outside the German territory. Have a look on the Lexus IS and the Cadillac ATS; these two cars have quite a selling point.
The new XE is the only car in the class built around an aluminium-intensive monocoque. Following development of the aluminium XJ in 2003, the XK, the current XJ and the F-Type, Jaguar's experience is embodied in the new XE's aluminium-intensive monocoque. The XE is the most rigid saloon that Jaguar has ever built and no other vehicle in the midsize segment contains more aluminium.
It uses over 75 percent aluminium content, which far exceeds any other car in its class. This gives it a body structure with unrivalled low weight: it's light but also immensely strong with extremely high levels of torsional stiffness and safety without compromising on vehicle design or refinement
Each XE is designed to offer a combination of steering response, ride comfort, refinement and performance. These attributes are matched to the sleek, well-proportioned exterior styling and the premium materials and meticulous attention to detail defining the interior.
The entry-level to the XE range, the Pure* model features high-quality cloth seats and a gloss black treatment for the door trim finishers and the signature 'Riva Hoop' sweeping around the instrument panel.
Seats are trimmed with Taurus leather with unique technical mesh fabric inserts. The 'Riva Hoop' and door finishers are in etched aluminium, and the tread plates and sports steering wheel feature R-Sport branding. The exterior is enhanced by a subtle rear spoiler and a noble chrome treatment for the side power vents sports suspension delivers even better handling.
The most performance-orientated XE model features a race-inspired interior. The Taurus leather seats have suede cloth panels and the tread plates and leather sports steering wheel carry the S logo. Dark hex aluminium graces the door finishers and the 'Riva Hoop', while the center console is gloss black. The front bumper's enlarged air intakes hint at the performance potential of the supercharged V6. Side sill extensions, rear spoiler, gloss black rear valance, red brake calipers and optional forged, 20 inch 'Propeller' alloy wheels complete the package.
Taurus leather upholstery with contrasting stitching delivers a modern, progressive luxury interior, complete with phosphor blue ambient lighting. Inserts on the air-conditioned seat option are perforated and the 'Riva Hoop' and door finishers are finished in brushed aluminium.
The most luxurious XE model, Portfolio features a wide range of color options for the premium Windsor leather with herringbone perforations. The instrument panel features split upper and lower coverings in two colors, complete with color-keyed twin-needle stitching for a truly bespoke feel. The aluminium trim has an embossed surface finish.
On the track I selected the "Sport" mode with rotary transmission knob, as it dials back the eight speed automatic's excitement to extent for the higher gears. There's also a button-activated "Dynamic" mode, similar to the F-Type, which delivers a more broad level of ferociousness by regulating the steering weight, throttle response and stability systems.
How the XE does drive on public roads and on Navarra circuit? It drives like a true sport sedan! It has quick steering, a taut suspension and a responsive throttle. The overall impression is of a car that feels better when driven rapidly, even though it's still relaxed just cruising around.
My quick opinion? Jaguar created a cut against the titans from Germany. The interior isn't as roomy as the best, but we all know that this segment hasn't got much roomy interior even versus its rivals. It rides superbly well and is pretty balanced on roads and even during our test on Navarra circuit. I can only say: "Well done Jaguar!"
Rivals: BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, Mercedes C-Class, Lexus IS, Cadillac ATS
Pros: superb ride/handling balance, attractive exterior design, powerful engines' offerings
Cons: limited rear legroom space, small luggage capacity, not-friendly infotainment system
One word: contending