Spotlight: Jaguar XE
With a segment-first RDE2-compliant diesel engine and significant step up in interior quality, the updated Jaguar XE is renewing its focus on fleets. By Alex Grant.
Fleet remains a vital component of XE sales and Jaguar still sees diesel as the right fuel for most business users. Conscious of the perception and tax issues that diesel faces in its home market, it’s pushed to make the new car compliant with RDE2 emissions limits far ahead of deadline. This avoids the 4% company car tax penalty, while also giving fleets some assurance of low NOx output in ‘real-world’ use, Jaguar says.
There’s only one diesel engine, a 178bhp 2.0-litre unit with (NEDC Correlated) CO2 emissions from 130g/km, targeting CO2-capped fleets and offered with optional all-wheel drive. Early XE sales had been heavily diesel-weighted, but Jaguar is expecting 60% of UK customers to opt for either the 250hp or 300hp petrol engines this time. It’s also readying ‘electrified’ versions for 2020 onwards – likely to comprise mild hybrids at first.
A class act
Jaguar sought feedback from its customer advisory board when developing the new car, including fleet managers and SMEs familiar with the outgoing model. Exterior design and the driving experience were rated as its biggest selling points, and neither have changed much this time, but end-users said they were disappointed with the quality of the materials used in the cabin.
The result is a significant overhaul; soft plastics, plusher leather upholstery and a trimmed dashboard top all giving a sense of luxury befitting a premium-brand product. The rotary gear selector is replaced by a shifter from the F-Type, while the steering wheel and mostly touchscreen-operated air conditioning controls are lifted from the I-Pace electric SUV. Business users will welcome extra storage for bottles in the door pockets, wireless smartphone charging in the centre console and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.
Most fleet-bought XEs went to SMEs and user-choosers, who typically buy like retail customers, so demand for the old car was top-heavy. The new XE range is much slimmer than its predecessor, deleting unpopular options and derivatives offered. Every car will include leather upholstery as standard and, with less than 10% of customers opting for a manual gearbox, this has also been removed from the range.
Instead, Jaguar is offering three grades – S, SE and HSE – and it’s cut prices compared to the outgoing car to make it more price-competitive versus key rivals. LED lighting, front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera are standard on all three trims, and all can be stepped up to a sporty ‘R-Dynamic’ version with the usual styling add-ons. Most UK customers are expected to do so, based on demand for the old car.
Jaguar now sells more SUVs than sports saloons, but the XE is an important car that’s opened many new doors in fleet since 2015. The carmaker sees ongoing life in this segment as CO2 limits become more stringent, and it’s aiming for a steady 10,000 units per year with the updated version. Interior and tech updates will certainly help but, given the ‘true fleet’ success rivals have had with plug-in hybrids, electrification feels suspicious by its absence. AG