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Jaguar XE P250: Britain’s quintessential sports saloon

By Ghaith Madadha - Nov 20,2023 - Last updated at Nov 20,2023

photo courtesy of Jaguar

Jaguar’s best effort to decisively break into the once lucrative and high-selling German-dominated compact premium saloon market, the XE is a brilliant car that more than made up for its Ford Mondeo-based 2001-2009 X-Type predecessor’s perceived shortcomings. Introduced in 2015 and intended to significantly broaden the British brand’s client base and sales, the XE was unfortunately the right car at the wrong time, and has been arguably superseded in its mission by Jaguar’s more recent crossovers and SUVs, which are better attuned to current customer preferences.

Not long for this world as Jaguar pivots towards a pricier and more luxury-oriented positioning and electrified future, the XE, however, still remains one of the manufacturer’s sportiest, most accessible and engaging modern driver’s cars. Built on a rear-wheel-drive platform using stiff and lightweight aluminium-intensive construction, the XE is a true sports saloon. With pitch perfect suspension and steering tuning and compact dimensions, it is the dartier and nimbler sister to the Jaguar XF saloon, and almost rivals the F-Type coupe in its sporting character.

 

Ready to pounce

 

Steeped in sporting heritage but designed with a modern styling sensibility rather than its predecessor’s retro-infused aesthetic, the swept back and aerodynamically efficient Jaguar XE oozes an air of tense momentum. With slim, squinting deep-set headlights, broad and snouty mesh grille, the XE seems ready to pounce, and most resembles the larger XF saloon. Face-lifted in 2019 with subtle bumper and lighting revisions, it retains its dramatic stance, with short front overhang, long bonnet, and dramatically descending roofline trailing off to a short, pert rear deck.

First launched with a Ford-sourced Ecoboost engine, which was replaced by Jaguar’s similar in-house developed turbocharged 2-litre in-line four-cylinder Ingenium engine in 2017, the featured XE P250 develops 247BHP at 5,500rpm and 269lb/ft throughout a broad and accessible 1,300-4,500rpm mid-range. With quick scrolling turbo and little lag, the P250 is responsively brisk from standstill, and carries its 1,672kg mass through 0-100km/h in 6.7-seconds, 80-120km/h in 4.3-seconds and onto 242km/h. Muscularly flexible in mid-range and eager to redline, the P250 meanwhile returns moderate 7.7l/100km combined fuel efficiency.

 

Agile abilities

 

Driving rear wheels through a slick and responsively quick 8-speed automatic gearbox, the P250’s shifts adopt a succinctly aggressive profile in sportier driving modes, while manual mode steering-mounted paddle shifters provide more driver involvement. The XE’s delicate throttle response meanwhile enables easy power modulation to accurately and intuitively balance grip versus slip through corners. Eager to initiate drifts with electronic stability controls in low intervention setting, the P250 is, however, more sure-footed and smooth over low traction roads when a less responsive gearbox shift profile is chosen.

If slightly fidgety when driven hard on such roads, the P250’s wider rear tires otherwise provide decent grip, while stability controls are best in default mode for control, but allow more tail-happy entertainment when in reduced intervention settings. Intuitively predictable and easily managed on-throttle, the XE’s drifty character allows one to easily tighten a cornering line, but would be even more effective with a limited-slip rear differential for enhanced agility and stability. Accurate and tidy turning in, its light, quick and precise steering meanwhile provides superbly nuanced fingertip feel.

 

 

Flowing and fluent

 

Flowing and fluid through switchbacks with its harmonious fixed rate suspension and steering, the XE’s rides on sporting double wishbone front, and innovative integral-link rear suspension, for a balanced combination of ride comfort and cornering body control. Slightly firm in primary response over jagged surfaces, the XE settles into smooth and supple secondary responses. As speed increases, it more fluently and comfortably processes textural imperfections, without the sideways shunting typical to some German cars. Pitching slightly over crests, the XE’s vertical control is nevertheless taut and settled.

Stylish and sporty inside with its twin-pod design, chunky steering wheel and hunkered down ambiance, the XE exudes class, and features a medley of soft textures, good quality leathers, and some less obvious hard plastics. Mildly revised with updated convenience, assistance and infotainment equipment and tech, the face-lifted XE replaces its outgoing pop-up rotary gear selector with a more conventional lever. Its driving position is ergonomic and supportive with good front views, while rear seat space may not be best in segment, but is nevertheless adequate for most.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Engine: 2-litre, turbocharged, in-line 4-cylinders
  • Bore x stroke: 83 x 92.3.1mm
  • Compression ratio: 10.5:1
  • Valve-train: 16-valve, DOHC, variable timing, direct injection
  • Gearbox: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive
  • Ratios: 1st 4.71; 2nd 3.14; 3rd 2.11; 4th 1.67; 5th 1.29; 6th 1.0; 7th 0.84; 8th 0.67
  • Reverse / final drive ratios: 3.3 / 3.42
  • Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 247 (250) [184] @5,500rpm
  • Specific power: 123.7BHP/litre
  • Power-to-weight: 147.7BHP/tonne (kerb)
  • Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 269 (365) @1,300-4,500rpm
  • Specific torque: 182.8Nm/litre
  • Torque-to-weight: 218.3Nm/tonne (kerb)
  • 0-100km/h: 6.7-seconds
  • 80-120km/h: 4.3-seconds
  • Top speed: 242km/h
  • Fuel economy, combined: 7.7-litres/100km
  • Fuel capacity: 62-litres
  • Length: 4,678mm
  • Width: 1,850mm
  • Height: 1,410mm
  • Wheelbase: 2,835mm
  • Track, F/R: 1,605/1,608mm
  • Overhang, F/R: 1,002/1,608mm
  • Ground clearance: 123mm
  • Aerodynamic drag coefficient: 0.28
  • Headroom, F/R: 971/948mm
  • Legroom, F/R: 1,055/889mm
  • Boot volume: 394-litres
  • Unladen  / kerb weight: 1,597kg / 1,672kg
  • Suspension, F/R: Double wishbones, integral-link
  • Steering: Electric-assisted rack & pinion
  • Lock-to-lock: 2.58-turns
  • Turning circle: 11.58-metres
  • Brakes, F/R: Ventilated discs / discs
  • Tyres, F/R: 225/45R18 / 245/40R18
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