Jaguar XE review - Jag's smallest saloon tackles BMW's 3-series head-on - Jaguar XE ride and handling

XE's chassis is one of the best but lacks sparkle in other areas

Evo rating
Price
from £33,915
  • Fluid chassis, responsive and well-weighted steering, comfortable cabin
  • Design lacks character inside and out, four-cylinder engines uninspiring

Ride and handling

With double wishbone front suspension, an ‘integral link’ rear axle that helps separate longitudinal and latitudinal cornering forces, and the latest in electronic power steering software, the XE is a true sports saloon. It’s a car that gets better the harder you drive it and has a wonderful sense of balance.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

The three different damper options – the passive suspension in Sport or Comfort spec and the £800 extra adaptive set-up – all offer a similarly imperious ‘bring it on’ resolve. They manage to balance grip with grace and a fluid economy of motion whatever the road surface or ambition of the driver, however optimistic. In the XE, you can get as down and dirty as you like at the wheel yet the end result will always be poised and pretty which, of course, is very flattering and something few of the German opposition does quite as well.

The XE also manages to serve up a ride quality not dissimilar to the Mercedes C-Class, there’s a controlled suppleness to the way it deals with a road and excellent suppression of tyre noise. In other words, it’s very comfortable and refined.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Where it differs immediately from the Merc is in the acuity of its responses. Darty is the first word that springs to mind, though you quickly relax and adjust and begin to marvel at how little effort is required to get the nose arcing towards the apex.

The steering progressively weights up as you attack a corner, encouraging you to really dig into the chassis’ ample but beautifully balanced reserves of grip. Not bad at all for an electronically assisted power steering system. No, there isn’t much genuine feel and the strong self-centreing action feels a bit artificial but, like the F-type, the XE has turn-in chops most BMWs would kill for and a bias towards mid-corner neutrality that’s hugely gratifying.

First taste of the adaptive dampers came on a diesel and proved perplexing, giving a much busier ride for little obvious payback in handling assets. But later, on the now off-sale 3.0S, the combination felt spot on, the extra pressure applied to the chassis by the 325bhp supercharged V6 being met with a still more planted and composed dynamic demeanour combining more tautly controlled body movements with an obviously firmer but still impressively supple ride.

 

Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/bmw/4-series/201608/2020-bmw-4-series-revealed-new-coupe-range-topped-by-369bhp-m440i
BMW 4 Series

2020 BMW 4-series revealed – new coupe range topped by 369bhp M440i

The new 4-series Coupe is bigger, faster and sportier, but that’s not what people are talking about
2 Jun 2020
Visit/features/17660/the-best-four-cylinder-engines-ever-we-pick-our-favourites
Features

The best four-cylinder engines ever

We've gathered a selection of our very favourite four-pots ever produced
27 May 2020
Visit/porsche/911-targa/202681/2020-porsche-911-targa-4s-heritage-design-edition-revealed
Porsche 911 Targa

2020 Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design edition revealed

Porsche reveals new 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design edition chock-full of retro touches
1 Jun 2020
Visit/chevrolet/202690/c8-chevrolet-corvette-uk-prices-and-specifications-revealedchevrolets-new-mid
Chevrolet

C8 Chevrolet Corvette UK prices and specifications revealed

Chevrolet’s new mid-engined C8 Corvette is an American supercar for less
3 Jun 2020