Jaguar XE R-Sport

This compact executive saloon offers good value when compared with sporty German alternatives.

You get a lot of kit shoehorned into the sporty version of Jaguar’s XE. Equipment encompasses xenon lights, two-zone climate control, an eight-inch touchscreen sat-nav and heated door mirrors.
But, a body kit is the biggest clue to differentiate the R-Sport from the other more conservative XEs. Chrome trim adorns the front air intakes; the side sills are extended, and then there's an R-Sport badge on the boot. The suspension is low, and the wheel-arches are filled with diamond turned five-spoke alloys.18-inch wheels are standard, but my test car had beefier 19-inchers fitted.

There is a range of engines, and the car I drove came with a 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel, pushing out 240PS. It also had an eight-speed automatic transmission and AWD four-wheel drive. You can get into an XE R-Sport from a little over £31,000, but the priciest (yes, you’ve guessed it), is the 240PS diesel, which carries a hefty price-tag of £40,125. That means forking out a hard-hitting £450 in road tax, too

Behind the wheel, the R-Sport’s athletic character gives credibility to the puffed up exterior trim, particularly if you hone things by choosing the ‘dynamic’ setting on the Jaguar Drive Control. The car is light, due to aluminium making up 75 percent of its bodyshell – and this shows in the Jag’s dexterity. Sure, it isn't quite as sharp-handling as BMW’s 3 Series M Sport, and the electric power-steering is a bit vague, but altogether the XE R-Sport is a comfortable car. Zero to 62mph arrives in 6.1 seconds, and the top speed is 155mph. Furthermore, the 54.4mpg average fuel consumption figure means the muscular XE isn't a thirsty beast.  
The ride is excellent, with the R-Sport's suspension set-up feeling confidently stiff, but not unpleasantly hard. You can adjust things, though, with Jaguar’s Adaptive Dynamics dampers. The system is optional – and worth it. It was housed in my test car, and it just means you can ‘taste the rainbow’ regarding different levels of comfort.

But, left to its own devices, the XE R-Sport corners without any roll and has enormous amounts of grip – as you might expect of a car with four-wheel drive. It induces confidence and finds just the right balance between sportiness and comfort.
The XE’s driving position is on the money, with loads of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel. The substantial A-pillars do mean there’s a blind spot, and the centre console feels a tad too broad, but the wide-opening doors mean access is easy. What’s more, there’s space in the rear for two six-footers.

So, the Jaguar XE is a compelling car to go for if you're in the market for a compact executive saloon. The blend of comfort and dexterity is excellent, while the 240PS twin-turbocharged diesel power unit performs with gusto. Also, the R-Sport version of the baby Jaguar enters the middle of the XE line-up, so it offers good value when compared with sporty German alternatives.
Pros ‘n’ Cons
  • Handsome √
  • Handling √
  • Performance √
  • Comfort √
  • Broad A-Pillars X

Fast Facts (2.0 i4d 240ps R-Sport Auto AWD- as tested)
  • Max speed: 155 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 6.1 secs
  • Combined mpg: 54.4
  • Engine layout: 1999cc four-cylinder diesel twin-turbo
  • Max. power (PS): 240
  • CO2: 137 g/km          
  • Price: £40,125
Written by motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay.
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