So it’s farewell to the XE as we take delivery of the Land Rover Discovery Sport (look out for the first review in the February 2 issue).
Pitched against the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the Jaguar had its work cut out to make a lasting impression.
The fact that it did is less about its high quality, well-designed interior – preferable to its three rivals, although the sat-nav can take a frustrating 30 seconds to yawn its way into life – than it was its on-road performance.
The XE rivals the sector-leading 3 Series for its handling prowess. I’d even argue that it just edges the BMW, although views in the consumer media are split on this.
However, there is an element of Jekyll and Hyde about the car. In Eco mode it harks back to the oak-panelled, gentleman’s brigade of 1980s Jags: reserved if not downright aloof to the suggestion of ‘putting your foot down’.
Of course, while a dull driving experience, this behaviour is perfect for economy, as noted in an earlier test when we enjoyed a 10mpg uplift.
In normal mode, the car is the optimum balance between punchy delivery and fuel-sipping efficiency – effectively you decide where to draw the line. It’s also extremely comfortable and refined – perfect for motor-way driving.
However, flick into sport, and the shackles are removed for German-baiting performance.
The throttle response is sharpened and steering weighting increases for a far more dynamic driving experience. Auf wiedersehen BMW, et al.
The only mode we’ve not been able to properly test is the ice/snow setting, which automatically dampens acceleration and applies more gradual traction for slippery conditions, mainly because we’ve had a pretty mild winter to-date.
It’ll be typical that the frosty weather will really set in now the car has returned to Jaguar.
Oh wait, didn’t I mention the Discovery Sport has arrived…?