I CAN honestly say, there aren’t many cars we feel sad giving back. That’s not a reflection on the quality of car, there are many fantastic cars we have road tested – but that’s what we do – we test cars and give them back, and then tell you all about them.
But every so often, a car comes into our possession where we think wow, I’d keep this car. This is a car we genuinely want to own for the rest of our days – a car we truly fell in love with. The 2016 Jaguar XE Portfolio 25t is one of those cars.
The proof, if you need any, is that we left the 2016 Holden Commodore VFII 6.2-litre V8 SSV Redline sitting in the driveway just to drive the Jaguar (and that says something because the final V8 Commodore is an amazing machine in itself, and hands down the best Commodore ever built).
I must also preface this review to say the Jaguar brand has a history in my family. My Nan owned a Mark II with a Le Mans race motor in it, and while the brand has gone through some very ugly times (and some god awful models) since those glory days, it still to this day strikes a chord with me as a brand representing class and sophistication.
So for the XE, I had some high expectations, because this car represents the first family sedan of the new Jaguar. The Jaguar that has returned the brand to its former glory, with a suite of models covering all bases.
The XE is British car maker Jaguar’s mid-sized sports saloon, and joins the big beefy XF sedan, the high-end luxury XJ, the wild F-TYPE coupe (and convertible), and the performance SUV known as the F-PACE.
The model we drove, the Portfolio, is its luxury flagship in the XE range. It features Windsor leather and a stitched leather dashboard and Herringbone perforated leather seats. We’re talking high quality luxury across the board in the XE Portfolio.
Put simply the interior, the infotainment system (which is probably the best we’ve ever interacted with because of its incredible simplicity), the dash controls – all the way down to the dial driven gearbox (no gearshift here, everything is controlled from a simple, easy to use dial), looks and feels good.
Everything you’d expect to be there is there. Dual zone climate control, temperature controlled seats, a comfortable leather steering wheel and hand brake, good interior space and plenty of storage and plug-in power options – it’s all exceptional, and more significantly, there are customization options on pretty much everything.
But it’s on the road where the XE comes into its own, with a 177kW 2-litre four cylinder turbo engine and eight speed automatic gearbox delivering 340Nm of torque to the rear wheels. On the surface it makes for a very nice, cruising ride that feels nothing short of comfort plus.
Add in a host of dynamic electronic driving options, full sports mode, paddle shift and some big 18-inch wheels and low profile tyres (or even better the optional 19-inch wheels) and trust us when we say, if you let the cat off its leash, it roars.
Zero to 100 in 6.8 seconds, a top speed of 250km/h and a secret wild side that loves to come out and play – the ride and handling is exceptional, especially when you throw it around.
It’s packed with safety features including speed limited cruise control, hill start assist, Jaguar’s unique drive control that feeds the right power at the right time, brake wear monitoring torque vectoring which is controlled by braking, speed controlled power steering and ASPC (or all surface progress control) – think of it as low speed cruise control and traction control meshed together.
There’s lots to love about the XE Portfolio, but it’s also not perfect. Overall we found some issues, albeit not as many as you might think. The back seat is narrow. It’s tight but not dissimilar to its Euro rivals. You certainly wouldn’t get three adults in the back comfortably.
Based on inclusions, it’s also pricier than its rivals, with all three of its big European opponents (the Mercedes Benz C250, the BMW 330i and the Audi A4 TFSI Quattro) coming in under the $70K mark, with the BMW and Audi delivering more power along the way.
With a 63-litre fuel tank and a combined fuel economy of 7.5l/100km (10.2 in city driving) it could be perceived as being on the thirsty side too. Finally, some of the interior positioning of things is a little awkward, like the armrests in the front and rear for example – these should be more pronounced and less recessed because they aren’t overly comfortable or practical.
The Jaguar XE Portfolio 25t comes in a whopping 17 exterior colours including Ebony Black, Polaris White, Ammonite Grey, Bluefire, British Racing Green, Dark Sapphire, Glacier White, Italian Racing Red, Odyssey Red, Quartzite, Rhodium Silver, Ultimate Black (the test car colour – think very glittery metallic black with blue fleck through the metallic), Black Cherry, Celestial Black, Ingot, Storm Grey and Tempest Grey.
The XE Portfolio also comes with a choice of six veneers wherever you can see paneling (including Gloss Figured Ebony, Satin Burr Ash, Satin Grey Ash, Satin Grey Figured Ebony, Satin Fine Line Wood and Carbon Fibre), and four interior leather colour choices – Jet (black), Siena Tan (as tested – quite confronting when you first get in, but it grew on us), Brogue and Light Oyster.
It hits the road at a surprising $70,400 plus on-roads (go on, admit you thought it would be more than that), and comes with a three year, unlimited kilometre warranty, as well as a host of fixed price servicing options should you wish to add those to your Jaguar purchase.
Our test vehicle was provided by Jaguar Australia. To find out more about the 2016 Jaguar XE Portfolio 25t, contact your local Jaguar dealer. 2016 Jaguar XE Portfolio 25t photographed by Neoklis Bloukos, Photo Automobili. View the entire gallery at 500px.
Road Test: 2016 Jaguar XE Portfolio 25t
Pros – exceptional driving experience; a real looker; luxury refinements.
Cons – tight rear seating; interior feature placement; dearer than genuine rivals.