WE ARE fortunate Jaguar didn’t follow Humber, Riley and a fleet of famous British automotive marques to the great scrapyard in the skies.
The fact that it didn’t owes much to splendid fortune, assiduous management and a recent ability to blend tradition with bang up-do-date innovations.
It is also thanks to the Indian company Tata whose decision to invest in the brand was riduculed at the time. Tata has made a success of Jaguar which not so long ago was creaky and tired.
It isn’t so now. It’s glamorous, gleaming and very much in vogue, thanks to thrusting sports models, interesting limousines and, importantly, new ventures such as the XE tested here.
The XE is very much a car of the moment: affordable, relatively compact, yet still exhuding enough class and clout to make you proud to be British. Well, it is built in Britain with British knowhow.
Now at last there is a Jaguar which can take on the best of the mid-market executive offerings from BMW, Audi, Lexus and co, as well as offering a plusher alternative to those who might otherwise settle for a Ford or Vauxhall.
The XE looks good. No-one can criticise this model for being bland, yet it isn’t ostentatious either. It has a confident, self-assured stature which you might expect from an old-school British brand.
Yet its ride and handling are very much of the moment. It has a sexy sporty feel to it and it demands to be driven well. But you won’t be penalised at the pumps or by the tax man. We are assured you will get 56mpg around town and over 76mpg on a run, yet the 109g/km means road tax is frugal.
The cabin has neat touches of chrome and is solid yet stylish and the car has some offbeat features, too. The boot can be open by the flick of the key fob. Unusually, it can be closed in a similar fuss-free manner. Very neat.
The test version is an SE, one of the better equipped versions with plenty of interesting features.
It has stability control, alloy wheels, air conditioning, climate control, powered mirrors, cruise control and one of the bmost intuitive satellite navigation systems and internet systems I’ve experienced.
Extra-cost options included brown leather upholstery which had to be seen and felt to be appreciated. It was stunning.
It is on the road where Jaguars really impress and the XE is no different. It has an aluminium chassis - a first for cars in this class - which makes it light, sporty and economical.
The engines - both diesel and petrol - are from the new Ingenium range and they are great. Traditionalists won’t like it but the diesel has the edge in terms of all-round ability and cost.
It is a car which impresses in all respects. It has to, given the quality of opposition. And while its possible to make a case for all its rivals, the XE is a sensible option. And it certainly won’t look out of place in the executive car park. A practical premium car, indeed.
Jaguar XE 2.0 SE D
PRICE: £32,025. Range starts at £26,990
ENGINE: A 1,999cc diesel with eight-speed automatic gearbox and generating 180bhp.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 140mph and 0 to 60mph in 7.8 seconds
COSTS: Town 56.5mpg; country 76.3mpg; combined 67.3mpg
INSURANCE: Group 25E
WARRANTY: Three years, 60,000 miles
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