From £26,0659
Performance flagship version of impressive Jaguar compact saloon, now with downsized twin-turbocharged engine

Our Verdict

Jaguar XE

Jaguar's first attempt at a compact exec saloon is good - very good. But can the XE hold off the BMW 3 Series and Alfa Romeo Guilia to retain its crown?

  • First Drive

    Jaguar XE 300 Sport 2018 UK review

    Performance flagship version of impressive Jaguar compact saloon, now with downsized twin-turbocharged engine
  • First Drive

    Jaguar XE 2.0d 240 2017 review

    The all-wheel-drive version of the Jaguar XE gets a new range-topping 236bhp Ingenium diesel engine in a bid to take on the powerful oil-burners from the likes
Steve Cropley Autocar
13 July 2018

What is it?

At first sight the new 2019-model-year Jaguar XE 300 Sport, the model’s new performance flagship, looks a lot like the XEs we’ve been seeing on UK roads these past three and a bit years, only quite a bit cooler.

The sleek, compact outline is familiar but there are attractive new side-sills in a tasteful semi-matt grey also used for the grille surround, the side vents, the exterior mirror caps and the rear valance, giving the car an unshowy but very businesslike appearance. The wheels are grey, too: 19-inchers as standard but optional 20s on our test car. Get closer and you’ll spot bright new '300 Sport' badges on grille and bootlid.

Jaguar is reverting to four-cylinder power for its XE sporting flagship mainly because V6-powered XEs are no longer offered following the arrival of tougher emissions laws, but it’s no disaster. The 300 Sport gets a twin-turbocharged 296bhp version of the 2.0-litre four-pot, whose installation delivers a weight saving of around 40kg compared with the old V6 (all of it over the front wheels, which aids the 300 Sports’s handling balance).

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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, with the eight-speed paddle-shift auto.

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

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Comments
13

13 July 2018

So the biggest change is the new engine, yet Steve rather artfully skirts round that issue and frames any criticism in the mildest possible terms. No word on real world fuel economy either of course, which should be the biggest gain over the old V6.

13 July 2018

That plastic rectangle, presumably the radar, dominates the grille and looks awful, it may sound daft but it would be a dealbreaker for me.

24 July 2018
jaffa68 wrote:

That plastic rectangle, presumably the radar, dominates the grille and looks awful, it may sound daft but it would be a dealbreaker for me.

You don't have to buy that. I have an XE without one.

Happy motoring

jer

15 July 2018

A 6 cyl 340i Grand Coupe RWD only is the same price but more like £38k if you shop around. More power more space bit less chassis finesse, probably does not have std adaptive shocks. So I think this should have been priced up as a 2.0 4cyl at around £41k to have a chance, thats a solid 10% too much. Love the way Jags drive (I own one) but they need to stop taking the micky on pricing then maybe they'll sell more.

16 July 2018

Is that an Auto, 4WD and adaptive shocks like the Jag? Only fair to add those on then compare list prices

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

FMS

19 July 2018
jer wrote:

A 6 cyl 340i Grand Coupe RWD only is the same price but more like £38k if you shop around. More power more space bit less chassis finesse, probably does not have std adaptive shocks. So I think this should have been priced up as a 2.0 4cyl at around £41k to have a chance, thats a solid 10% too much. Love the way Jags drive (I own one) but they need to stop taking the micky on pricing then maybe they'll sell more.

 

You thinking of 440i GC, or 3 seriws GT?, as there is no 3 series GC.

FMS

19 July 2018
jer wrote:

A 6 cyl 340i Grand Coupe RWD only is the same price but more like £38k if you shop around. More power more space bit less chassis finesse, probably does not have std adaptive shocks. So I think this should have been priced up as a 2.0 4cyl at around £41k to have a chance, thats a solid 10% too much. Love the way Jags drive (I own one) but they need to stop taking the micky on pricing then maybe they'll sell more.

 

You thinking of 440i GC, or 3 series GT?, as there is no 3 series GC.

24 July 2018

What he omits to say is that you can get the same drive train with lower trim levels. If you shop around you can get one for <£36k.

Happy motoring

jer

15 July 2018

the silly / gaush 300 badges are in the best taste. 

jer

16 July 2018

Adaptive shocks are £850 extra on the Jag as are thise wheels keyless entry decent stereo pro nav etc.takes it to 49k. Btw its not a twin turbo.

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