Jaguar XE 300 Sport Review - XE for Spartans
Jaguar might be in the headlines for the wrong reasons lately, with drastic plans afoot to cut costs. Like others in the luxury set, the Brit is struggling to sell sedans when everybody wants to ride up high.
The XE is one of those, not many finding homes last year but it’s still alive and well otherwise. One tasty variant, the 300 Sport, offers the same lusty four cylinder we thought was pretty good in the F-Type.
While it doesn’t sound anywhere near as raucous as it did employed in the F, the XE 300 Sport’s 2.0-litre turbo rustles up the same 221kw and 400Nm which has it nipping at the paws of the 280kW/450Nm S.
Jag says it’s good for a sub-six-second 0-100km/h run and while we couldn’t quite match that, this still has a decided turn of pace when needed. In general running, it’s into the torque smartly with genuine pull from 1500rpm. This also equates to 100km/h in top gear where the 300 will accelerate with a just hint of pressure on the throttle.
The eight-speed auto works with the engine’s strength, that being midrange ease, and can be content to lug a taller gear. Only when you’re in a rush does it seem a tad hesitant but all that’s needed is a twist of that silly rotating gear selector around to S where it’s more than happy to drop a cog with gas added.
There’s an idle-stop system and, being a turbo, it can take that moment too long to refire if you’re nipping for a gap. But generally it’s okay, while the idle/stop button is accessible for quick disengagement.
Fire the 300 along with more intent and it starts hauling once the four rounds past 3000rpm, though it’s effectively done by 5500rpm, which is where the auto will usually change up. It carries out its programming in slick fashion, and with eight gears it’s generally in the right one for the occasion.
As mentioned, the 2.0-litre doesn’t quite growl like it does in the F-Type; it’s more of a fierce miaow here. Initially we thought we could happily live with this and forgo the S, but at $82,900, the 300 is only seven grand shy of the V6 beastie.
And the S comes with the adaptive suspension bits as standard, making the difference just four grand. And you just would, right? However, the V6 is a bit thirstier; this 300 was registering around the 9L/100km mark, though it did creep up higher after a more rigorous workout. And there’s a nice balance to this car, the engine in harmony with the chassis, whereas the V6 in the S likes to constantly provoke the rears into doing something lairy.
We like both characters, so up to you really.
The 300 though does turn in exquisite fashion. The steering is top rate. It might pick up some of the rubbish on road but drivers will appreciate its feedback, accuracy and response. There’s some tyre noise from this 20-inch package, the stiff sidewalls transmitting the roar but they pay back with their ability to turn and hang on. And with Jaguar’s adaptive suspension fitted, this manages to sort big bumps effortlessly.
The 300 gains a few styling details with dark grey used to mark out the grille, sills and vents, along with the glasshouse and spoiler. There are various yellow 300 references about the place, and the hue is used on the contrast stitching inside, while the dash and instrument panel are covered with a leather-like substance.
You’re seated on comfy 300-branded sports seats, and a fitting position is easy to find, with both the seat and wheel power adjustable. The standard spec is only okay for the asking price but while most bits are present the active safety larder is fairly sparse.
The XE offers as standard AEB, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning, but everything else is a cost option. The wide format touchscreen runs an updated infotainment system that takes a moment or three to fire up in the morning but the resolution and response are sound once online.
This car also had the optional TFT instrument panel, the layout changing with the drive mode. There’s still too much hard plastic lining the lower half of the cabin and we wish they’d get rid of that archaic gear selector.
The XE is really a four seater, the rear space only suitable for two, while access is tight through the abbreviated rear doors. Its boot is long with a reasonable opening for a sedan but is not very wide, though the rear seat drops down for longer items.
There’s an updated XE due along later in the year that will hopefully concentrate on righting a few of the spec issues, because they can leave the chassis bits well alone as there’s nothing wrong with the way this cat goes.
Model Jaguar XE 300 Sport Price $82,900
Engine 1997cc, IL4, T/DI, 221kW/400Nm
Transmission 8-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Vitals 6.14sec 0-100km/h, 6.7L/100km, 153g/km, 1685kg