Jaguar XE 300 Sport review: the British alternative to a BMW

By John Redfern

Jaguar launched the XE in 2015, with a bold ambition that its compact executive saloon would vanquish German rivals such as the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.

After nearly a decade on sale, the Jaguar remains a minor player in this very competitive segment of the car market. Sales figures never reached the hoped-for levels, and the XE is likely to be discontinued in 2025, as Jaguar pivots towards an all-electric future.

With the clock running down on the XE, we have taken a look at what the smallest Jaguar can offer to buyers.

Still got the look

There is no denying that Ian Callum’s design still possesses plenty of kerb appeal. The XE looks just as handsome as it did when first launched. In range-topping 300 Sport trim, as tested here, Jaguar’s baby saloon is a car you instinctively look back at after parking up.

The model range is now relatively simple, consisting of a 204hp diesel engine alongside a pair of turbocharged petrols: either 250hp or 300hp. All-wheel drive is standard on the most powerful petrol version, with rear-drive retained for the others. An eight-speed ZF automatic transmission is fitted across the board.

A plug-in hybrid model is notable by its absence, which will leave the XE low down the list for fleet drivers who seek low company car tax rates. This will be their loss, however, as the XE delivers a more engaging driving experience than its hybrid rivals.

Comfort and agility

With 300hp and 295lb ft of torque, the 300 Sport manages to feel quick, if not startlingly so. The 0-62mph sprint takes 5.9 seconds, with the 2.0-litre turbocharged Ingenium engine needing plenty of revs for maximum performance. It sounds gruff when worked hard, too.

Even with Sport mode engaged, and using the steering wheel-mounted paddles, the traditional auto gearbox slurs its shifts more than a dual-clutch transmission would. This makes for smooth progress in regular driving, but dulls the car’s responses when you really want to push on.

The XE’s handling is a revelation though, with a sense of agility that most premium cars struggle to match. The 300 Sport’s all-wheel-drive system generates plenty of traction out of bends, while its well-weighted steering offers enough feedback to carve precise lines with ease. Large 350mm front brake discs provide plenty of stopping power, despite a hefty kerb weight of close to 1,700kg.

You might expect a trade-off from the large 20-inch wheels, but the Jaguar’s adaptive suspension maintains a truly impressive balance between ride comfort and cornering poise. Only the worst bumps and ruts are transmitted back into the cabin, and the XE flows effortlessly along typical British back roads.


Jaguar has updated the XE’s interior over the years, adding its highly effective Pivi Pro 10.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, along with a digital instrument panel. Higher-spec models gain an extra climate control display, using an intuitive combination of physical dials and a miniature touchscreen.

Perceived quality has improved in the XE’s smart, minimalist cabin as well, bringing it closer to the all-conquering Germans.

Where the baby Jaguar still lags behind rivals is interior space. The front is best described as ‘snug’ for taller drivers, while a coupe-like roofline makes the rear feel particularly tight. Boot capacity is smaller than other executive saloons, too.

On its last lap

The ageing XE seems like a hard sell in 2024, yet there is still something inherently charming about the junior Jaguar. Factor in keen pricing and a generous level of standard equipment, and the XE becomes an attractive option – for private buyers at least.

This is particularly true if you sidestep the obvious alternatives and compare the range-topping XE 300 Sport to swoopy saloons like the Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 or BMW M235i Gran Coupe.

The Jaguar undercuts both these all-wheel-drive cars on price, and offers a driving experience that is easily as involving. Don’t forget its handsome styling, either.

Even if the XE wasn’t Jaguar’s box-office smash in the compact saloon class, it emerges as something of a critics’ choice. It’s just a shame there seems to be little chance of a sequel.

John Redfern writes for Motoring Research

PRICE: From £43,500

POWER: 300hp

0-62MPH: 5.9sec

TOP SPEED: 155mph


CO2 EMISSIONS: 196g/km