Jaguar XE 2.0 Turbo – a revealing review

Haven’t we been here before? What’s so different about the new ‘baby Jag’? Prepare to be surprised…

By Shahzad Sheikh

Jaguar XE 2.0 Turbo

The launch reveal of the all-new Jaguar XE, actually it was more a stage-play, seemed to stream online forever. It was a weird affair, laden with stereotypes and more misses than there were hits. ‘Convoluted and trying too hard’ I thought, and at the time I remember filing that emotion as an allegory for the new Jag itself. After all, we’d all been here before, right?

See my comprehensive video review of the new Jaguar XE by clicking below

There used to be a Jaguar campaign entitled ‘History Repeating’ but I don’t imagine this is what it was meant to bring to mind – the previous attempt by the storied British car maker to reach out to the masses, to kick BMW in the goolies and create an everyman’s compact executive saloon fell flat on its face.

The 2001 Jaguar X-Type actually did look the part, and the quad-round-light face immediately stood it apart from its dour German rivals. On paper it should have been a great drive too – based as it was on the Ford Mondeo (at the time setting a solid benchmark for saloon car ride and handling).

Jaguar XE 2.0 Turbo

But it was the very association with the Mondeo that drove people away, not least because of the recognisable Ford bits inside the cabin. Things got worst behind the wheel – around town and cruising on motorways it wasn’t too bad, but press on and things started to unravel fast. What should have been an excellent chassis was handicapped with a heavy all-wheel drive system that just made this a lumbering, understeering mess of a machine that even a bank robber wouldn’t nick.

That of course being the yardstick by which Jaguars should be judged, having secured its place in history as being the ultimate British gangster car in the 1960s with the Jaguar Mk II – the foundation for its current ‘Good to be Bad’ campaign, it would seem.

Jaguar XE 2.0 Turbo

Jaguar XE – the second coming

So it was with those weary thoughts that I took delivery of the shiny all-new Jaguar XE 2.0 T test car in glacier white with the R-Sports body kit, contrasting wheels and the confusing ‘25t’ badge – are they trying to do an Audi with their new labelling?

I had to admit, it certainly appealed more in person – particularly in this menacing trim – than it did in pictures, although I still can’t quite tell this and the new XF apart. One thing I will say though is that it comes across as bigger and with a more substantive presence than I anticipated. Yet it’s only about 4cm longer and wider than the BMW 3 Series it’s blatantly looking to give a black eye. Perhaps being two and half cm lower, aids the visual trick of giving this a more mean and squat presence.

Jaguar XE 2.0 Turbo

It would also explain the deep but slim boot space (a bit like old XJs actually) and the lack of rear headroom in an otherwise surprisingly spacious rear cabin. Leg and knee room for my tall frame is not a problem sitting behind a driver’s seat set for myself.

Plenty of space and comfort in the front, and you feel like you’re sitting lower and in a more sporty car, partly due to the curve flowing around the top edge of the dashboard and partly because you are. There’s a wide centre console which again adds to that sense of space, plus a very clean layout which retains the rising transmission knob, but does away with gimmicky rotating vents.

Jaguar XE 2.0 Turbo

My only beef with the interior is the position of the driver’s side A/C vent which freezed my knuckles which made me want to punch someone just to try and warm them up again – wow, five minutes in the car and I’m turning gangster already.

Driving the new XE

We also get a V6 version of the new XE with 100bhp more than this car. This 2.0-litre Turbo, fitted to a slate of Jags and Land Rovers, is actually with us only another year before a whole new range of Jaguar’s own Ingenium motors are phased in. But it’s still a damn fine motor, producing 240bhp in this guise and keeping the XE honest till 250kph passing 100kph in just 6.8 seconds from rest, slightly less sooner than the 245bhp 328i.

Jaguar XE 2.0 Turbo

That is plentiful go around town, although the XE is surprisingly a little heavier than the 3 series despite major aluminium construction, it doesn’t seem too bothered. It may feel luxury-sized from behind the wheel, but compact dimensions and great agility make it a satisfying companion for the cut-and-thrust of the stone jungle.

Every now and then though, you get a peak of something deeper, something keener, something a bit naughty. So get it out of town and put it in Dynamic mode – and the real bad boy reveals itself.

Jaguar XE 2.0 Turbo

Two things to say first though – the 8-speed gearbox (and usually Jaguar transmission are shift-perfect all by their own) was not a team player in this particular car. It seemed to get itself confused and kickdown wasn’t what and when you wanted it. Not an issue though – if you’re on it, twist to ‘S’ and use the paddles behind the steering wheel.

The other thing that has to be mentioned is the ride. It’s fantastic – a great balance of composure and comfort that most European rivals are not presently getting right. It smothers the road big car stylee, yet keeps it all together when you begin to hurl this thing around.

Jaguar XE 2.0 Turbo

And you will want to chuck it about. Braking vectoring means you can go deep into a corner on the anchors, turn in and you get… not understeer, but a quick question, duly answered it dives in and eagerly awaits you to power through. Which you can at your pleasure, because despite this being a rear-wheel drive car, there is tons of grip to cope with the 251lb ft of torque being channelled through.

I’m guessing the V6 might be a little more lairy, and I’m eager to find out, but for the moment, this XE keeps it all under control. The steering has the right amount of heft and response, though I did wish perhaps for a bit more feel. Not that that was a detracting factor, because the chassis is so good you get a lot of feedback from your bottom, and the amount of confidence it ensures means you can really go testing the near-limits of this sports saloon.

Jaguar XE 2.0 Turbo


Not a lot of new cars surprise me these days, I usually know what to expect and am rarely wrong. But, and perhaps because, my expectations were not that high when it came to the XE, what I actually found was rather overwhelming. This is not just a great city-slicker, but actually one of those rare modern comfy cruisers that you’d contemplate getting up early on a Friday morning for, just to go for a hard, thrilling drive.

I found myself pushing it more than I thought I would and laughing out more frequently than, well, at all. It seems competitively priced starting at AED169,000 for the 200bhp 2.0, although this car with the 240bhp R-Sport trim, Meridian sound system, Xenon headlamps and parking aids, starts at AED194,000.

Jaguar XE 2.0 Turbo

This Jag slots nicely into a tough segment battling it out with not only the 3 Series, but also the Lexus IS, Cadillac ATS and of course the C-Class. But this time the campaign gets it right – if you believe it’s ‘Good to be Bad’ then this is the one to plant at the top of your shortlist.

Jaguar XE 2.0 Turbo – The Specs

Price: AED194,000 (US$53k)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder, 240bhp @ 5500rpm, 251lb ft @ 1750rpm
Performance: 0-100kph 6.8secs, 250kph, 7.5L/100km
Transmission: 8-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Weight:  1535kg

Which compact sporty exec would you pick and why? Let us know in the comments below.


6 responses to “Jaguar XE 2.0 Turbo – a revealing review”

  1. B@r says:

    Nice car, but I would go for Infiniti Q50s due to the similar price (AED 195,000) but a stronger engine and lots of latest tech. It’s a true sports sedan to me!

  2. Rixxd says:

    Couldn’t enjoy sounds too much yapping. Watch road test of mustang ecoboost 15 minutes of driving thru canyons in Malibu CA just sounds talk after not non stop yap

    • Paul says:

      I have driven bmw 428i lexus rc, c250, tt and jag r sport ex 25t yep i am buying the jag got to drive themto judge them ….cheers

  3. Andy says:

    I was as well in the market for a sports exec, test dirving the BMWs 330i and 428i grancoupe M-Sport ans well as the Jag 25t R-Sport. The Jag nailed it so i ordered it, and that says a lot as i live in Munich.

  4. […] Motoring Middle East’s Shahzad Sheikh tests the all-new Jaguar XE 2.0 Turbo on the roads of the UAE. Full review […]

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