The 296bhp engine is familiar from Jaguar’s entry-level F-type sports car and the 300 Sport’s performance is very similar: it will hit a governed 155mph and sprint from zero to 60mph in a brisk 5.4 seconds, whether you’ve chosen the standard six-speed manual gearbox or the optional eight-speed paddle-shift auto (fitted to our test car).
The XE 300 Sport comes with a standard all-wheel-drive system and, naturally for a sporting Jaguar, it has had its own chassis development programme orchestrated by driving guru Mike Cross, who signs off every new model for 'Jaguarness' and joined us as we tried the new car on challenging roads in central Wales, specifically chosen for their variety of corners, surfaces, slopes, cambers and humps that test every nuance of a car’s dynamics.
What's it like?
The Sport 300 draws influence from other Jaguar Sport models, what with its special badging on the headrests and steering wheel, and its black-themed upholstery and interior trim, given a sporty character with striking yellow stitching. The driver’s seat is low and comfortable, with decent side bolsters for the semi-sporting seats, another echo of the F-type.
What strikes you first when you start to drive is this car’s versatility. It eases away from the mark with the silent aplomb of a shopping car. In effort and gearing its electric power steering is ideal for manoeuvring neatly through traffic and the low-speed ride is supple and impressively quiet.
When you’re really moving, the 300 Sport still copes brilliantly. The route we drove was pock-marked one minute, silky-surfaced the next. Even pulling serious speed, the car was still all about stability, precision and deeply impressive cornering grip. There were places where the adaptive dampers worked better in Dynamic mode for best body control, but most of the time Comfort was the choice.
The steering is perhaps the 300 Sport’s best bit. It is very accurate and ideally weighted for every driving condition we encountered, rim effort increasing slightly as cornering force built, but never to become intrusive.
Despite the impressive performance claimed for the 300 Sport, it doesn’t feel explosive under your right foot. It’s best to select the Sport transmission regime for serious driving, and even then there will be times when the car will go that much better if you pull it back another ratio on the paddles. The performance is there, but needs help to be revealed.
Should I buy one?
The finest thing about this car is the way it flows down any road. Point it at any piece of road of any condition and it’ll cope as if specifically engineered for it.
Mike Cross calls the 300 Sport “a real Jaguar” and he should know.
It’s certainly the best-driving Jaguar saloon I’ve been in for years, and the fact that pricing starts at just £45,640 (only about £14k more than the cheapest XE money can buy) just makes it better.
Jaguar XE 300 Sport
Tested Wales Price £45,640 On sale now Engine 4cyls in line, 1997cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol Power 296bhp at 5500rpm Torque 295lb ft at 1500–4500rpm Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerb weight 1600kg Top speed 155mph 0-62mph 5.4sec Fuel economy 37.2mpg CO2, tax band 173g/km, 35% Rivals BMW 3 Series, Audi A4