The first 3,000 miles in my Jaguar XE

Author's note - this is my first post in the Jaguar Owners Club section. You will usually find me writing about classic Italian GT cars in my tribe - A Daytona in the life.

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It's been 3 months and as near as makes no difference 3,000 miles of motoring since I acquired a new Jaguar XE R Dynamic S D180 so I thought it was time to write up some impressions of it.

The XE is my first Jaguar and also the first daily driver I have acquired myself, rather than choosing a car from the company car list in the last ten years. As an alternative to a company car my company offers a cash allowance that for me works out as more benefical from a tax point of view, and also gives me a lot more choice than the relatively small list of cars that the company mainly offers. Most of the cars on the list are BMW's or Mercedes and having had four BMW's I fancied something different.

There are some conditions attached to the cash allowance though, notably that the car has to have at least 4 seats and preferrably 4 doors in case it does have to be used for business purposes. That rules out the likes of a used Porsche Cayman or a Jaguar F Type. With this in mind I drew up a long list of cars that a gradually whittled down to come to a few choices of car I was interested in and fitted the parameters. In the end I test drove a Lexus RC300h , Audi Q3, Jaguar XE and an E Pace. The Lexus was nice but the finance deals on offer were not particularly competitive, the Audi was not particularly great to drive and the lead time for the approximate spec I wanted would mean I would be without a car for a month or so as my company BMW was due to go back before they could deliver. This left the two Jaguars.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by the E Pace, having heard somewhat mixed reviews of the small SUV, but it turned out to be a much nicer car to drive than the Audi. However I much preferred the XE mainly because I realised I still prefer saloon cars to SUVs. Job done - not quite. My preference was for an XE with the P250 petrol engine but again the lead time on this was quite long and the dealer was offering a much more attractive deal on a D180 diesel (even though the list price is slightly higher). I do around 10-12,000 miles a year so it is probably just about better for me to take the diesel version anyway.

Deal done and my Jaguar turned up about a month later just before Christmas. First impressions are great. In R Dynamic form it is a handsome beast, and in black it made me think of it being a modern version of Edward Woodward's black Series 3 XJ in the Equalizer series from the 1980's. It is well equiped even in the basic S spec, with electric leather heated seats, dual zone climate control and most importantly for me Apple carplay connectivity. My wife seems to like it too although she thinks it's a little more grown up compared to the previous BMW, I'm not sure if that is a good or a bad thing.

Straight away the Jag has been pressed into service on my 50 mile round trip to work which is on a mixture of motorways and back roads. Many of the reviews praise the chassis and steering on the XE and they are completely right, they are by far and away the best thing on the car. The Jag easily smooths over the worse of the british roads while at the same time the steering is perfectly weighted. It also handles well too although it is perhaps a little too large to be a B roads weapon. If there is one problem with the chassis it serves as a constant reminder of the Jag's biggest weak point - the engine.

Jaguar has a history of making iconic engines such as the XK straight six and the V12, the Ingenium 4 will not go down in history the same way. On paper the engine is competitive, 177bhp is a little behind the maximum power of the 2.0 turbo diesel from BMW but it compensates with slightly more torque 318 lb ft (the same peak torque as my Ferrari Daytona incidentally). However the BMW unit in my outgoing car had a much wider power band than the Jag with a redline some 1500rpm higher, it also sounds better.

The Jaguar with my Mistress a 1973 Ferrari 365GTB4 Daytona

The Jaguar with my Mistress a 1973 Ferrari 365GTB4 Daytona

The narrow powerband on the Jag means the ZF 8 speed gearbox (incidentally the same spec as used in the BMW Z4 and Toyota Supra) has to do quite a lot of shifting and the shifts are surprisingly lumpen particularly when the car is cold. It also, possibly for economy reasons, seems a little disinclined to down shift meaning it is sometimes caught needing to force a kickdown when even only mild accelaration is needed. This can be gotten around by shifting manually, and the metal paddles for this are well placed and feel nice to use. All this adds up to a feeling that the XE is a great car in search of a great engine.

There is one area where the engine does seem to score well though and that is in fuel economy. I'm currently averaging over 50mpg and on one late evening drive home from the office I even managed to achieve 65mpg average on the trip computer. This is translating into a range of nearly 600 miles. Would I sacrifice a few MPG for a better engine, almost certainly yes, although I'm not completely sure that the P250 petrol version would be enough. a silky straight six is probably what the XE needs and unfortunately I don't see Jaguar making one anytime soon.

One other gripe is the brakes, they are effective enough but on a cold wet day they squeal badly on the first couple of applications. It will be something I raise when the car goes it for its first service.

A few other observations, the touch screen user interface is not bad but most of the time I plug in my phone and use the car play options anyway. The dashboard display is a little fiddly to change settings and something that is best done when not on the move. The boot is a reasonable size but the opening is quite small, and I wonder why Jaguar did not consider making it a hatchback like the BMW 4 Series Grand Coupe?

Overall fit and finish is good and at least the equal if not better than my previous BMW. The mouldings on the side of the centre console feel a little insubstantial though and not sure how good they will look after 50,000 miles. Also when washing the car I noticed the vents on the wings feel a little cheap to the touch.

As we head towards the summer months and when hopefully the COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed I want to do some extended road trips in the Jag, I'll report back how they go.

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