Well, it certainly does look sexy! But they say it’s a proper sports sedan! I suppose there’s only one way to find out, isn’t there?
So how do you compete with the venerable BMW 3 Series – the king of sport sedans? Well, you start with a clean sheet of paper for one. And that’s exactly what Jaguar has done with this beautiful new machine. It has a brand new aluminum architecture, and a brand new line up of engines. And it looks stunning, doesn’t it?
The XE has been penned by someone I consider to be one of the best designers in the business today – Ian Callum. And sure he’s taken plenty of inspiration from one of his own designs – the flagship XJ – but it still look gorgeous. But, Ian, how could you let your engineers put these spindly little wheels on this car and ruin your masterpiece?
Sure, it helps with ride quality on our roads – but, frankly, I don’t mind a slight backache if it means that the way the car sits on the road is transformed completely. What can I say, I’m vain like that? Promise me that when you buy this car, you’ll have the dealer fit a proper set of wheels – 18-inches at the very least.
The XE was first unveiled at a spectacular event at Earls Court in London in September 2014. At the time, I asked Ian to describe – in one word – what this car says on the road. And his answer was ‘sporty.’ So that’s what we’re at the track to find out – if this car lives up to that singular defining characteristic, as intended by the man who designed it? Ishan drove it in Europe last year, and came away pretty impressed – but the BIC is the litmus test!
Looking at the specs, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t perform here. The 2.0-litre turbocharged direct injection four-cylinder motor comes in two trims – 197 and 237 horsepower. We have the more powerful one of this duo, and it also makes a very healthy 340Nm of torque. This means that 100km/h comes up in just 6.8 seconds. Meanwhile, the body – with a ratio of 75:25, aluminium to steel – weighs just 325 kilos. The front suspension has double wishbones that are taken directly from the beautiful F-Type sports car, while at the rear it features a very sophisticated integral link that helps maintain a low centre of gravity and 50:50 weight distribution. So, it ticks all the boxes. There was only one thing left to do, then – get out on track and give it the beans.
But, before that, I have to say that it’s extremely refined and comfortable on the highway and in the city. The petrol engine is buttery smooth, turbo lag is virtually undetectable, and it pulls cleanly from low revs all the way to the redline. Power delivery is urgent too. In fact, it feels like a six cylinder. You have to hand it to these two-litre turbo engines. My only beef with them is that, in the real world, they aren’t any more economical than the larger engines they replace. Sure, in ideal test conditions, the engines are probably running off boost and, therefore, barely sipping fuel. But, step on the gas a little and they average below 7km/l. That being said, drivability is excellent – as is the very familiar ZF 8-speed gearbox.
In the past, I had some misgivings about the quality of some of the pieces of trim in the interior – but our test car’s lovely two-tone leather quickly dispelled any such concerns. Not only is the hide quite inviting, but so is the overall design of the cabin. You can sit low and feel completely ensconced by the wraparound dash. Like most modern cars, the A-pillar is quite wide though – and so visibility does suffer slightly. Other than that, the driving position is perfect. You sit facing a three-spoke steering wheel that feels perfect to hold and stare straight at a pair of clear analogue gauges that have been lifted straight from the instrument cluster of the F-Type.
As I head out onto track, I engage Dynamic mode and the gauges turn an angry red. I also turn the traction control off – because, well, how else can you have fun in a rear-drive machine? Immediately, the XE feels perfectly suited to the track. It darts into corners. In fact, it’s quite tail-happy on turn in. And if you like that kind of behaviour – which I do – it can be quite entertaining. The brakes are immediate, the transmission is faultless, and the power always there. Sure, on the track, you could always use more power. So, of course, I would love even more grunt – but you can’t deny that the power delivery from this engine is responsive and consistent at all times.
The best part, though, is the chassis. The car just feels light and willing. At the same time, it feels stiff and predictable too. It has perfect rear-drive characteristics – meaning that I had opposite lock on and a wide smile on my face throughout the few hot laps that I had with this car. The steering is direct and perfectly weighted. It’s not overly heavy, like in the 3 Series in Sport mode. With these relatively small wheels and tyres, it can’t match the 328i for grip and precision though, but it certainly goes toe-to-toe in terms of entertainment value. In fact, thanks to that clever rear suspension, the transitions and weight transfers feel more progressive than in the BMW. As a result of which you find that you’re always comfortable playing with the chassis and adjusting its attitude constantly during a bend.
Yes, the XE doesn’t appear to have that Germanic level of engineering integrity – but it certainly has more attitude. And, yes again, it can’t match the class-leading interior of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class – but the driving experience simply makes up for any shortfalls. It’s almost a perfect blend of the three-pointed star and the blue and white propeller. It matches the Bavarian for driving dynamics, while coming pretty close to the Merc in terms of style and kerb appeal.
At the end of the day, if you want a proper sports sedan – since BMW doesn’t currently sell the 328i in the Indian market – the XE, with 237bhp and 340Nm, is the perfect choice. Just get a nicer set of rims. And, while you’re at it, a set of stainless steel exhaust tips as well...
- Jaguar XE 25t
Engine: 1,999cc / 4 Cylinders / 16 Valves / DOHC / Direct injection / Turbocharged
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic / Rear-Wheel drive
Power: 237bhp @ 5,500rpm
Torque: 340Nm @ 1,750 – 4,000rpm
Acceleration: 0-100km/h – 6.8 seconds
Price: Rs. 46.5 lakhs (Ex-showroom, Delhi)
|Lap Time||Top Speed|
|Mercedes Benz GLE450 AMG Coupe||2:37.2||197 (Km/H)|
|Jaguar XE 25t||2:37.6||191 (Km/H)|
|Maruti-Suzuki Vitara Brezza||2:55.6||157 (Km/H)|
Also read- Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 AMG Coupe: Track Test