The Jaguar brand has always had a love hate relationship with Sri Lanka – those who love it – absolutely love it and those who don’t have an impression correctly or incorrectly of it being an temperamental indulgence which comes with a very high cost. Whichever school of thought that you fall into, one thing we can all agree on is that Jaguar has always produced some stunning cars with all the pomp and pageantry you could ask for while keeping one eye on performance. In the recent past Jaguar has had a resurgence, with ownership shifting over to Tata of India and an amalgamation with another iconic brand to form JLR or Jaguar Land Rover.
What we are driving here for the first time is the entry level Jaguar, the starting point for those wanting to dip their feet into the Jaguar eco system – known as the XE. Jaguar has a lot to live up to and lots of competition with this model in particular as it finds itself globally and most importantly even in the Sri Lankan context in a very competitive segment with rivals such as the BMW 3 series, Mercedes C-class and the Audi A4 to name a few.
First impressions are very good; the all-new design concept really does sing modernism and chiseled butchness – and we absolutely love it. The concept of all models having a similar design structure has become a little tiring in the past – however we think Jaguar has cracked this with their new model designs. The XE, as the baby jag and entry level to the brand really does shine.
As you would expect from a prestige brand the interior truly is a nice place to be – the test car in particular with it’s lovely Taurus leather interior in beige, wrap around dash board and high door lines really does make you feel like you were cocooned in a cockpit. The interior fit and finish is as you would expect from any high end car manufacturer and all the tech you could possibly need is right at your fingertips. All in all a lovely place to spend a daily commute in – in the driver’s seat or as a passenger.
What made us very excited about this little Jag was the power plant. As per everything on Sri Lankan roads these days the XE runs a very smooth 2.0l 4 cylinder with a turbo charger thrown in for good measure. 200hp isn’t something to disregard – and it does get up to speed very quickly with what it feels like almost no turbo lag at all. Driving around at city speeds is extremely comfortable and rather effortless. Selecting the option of Race mode on the command shift however is when you start getting a little shiver in your nether regions – in race mode it is very very easy to surpass the speed limit with very little effort. The XE feels a lot faster that its 200hp and we have no problem with that – we believe it is a lot to do with the 80% aluminum construction of the body and chassis. A very expensive build process but the weight saving truly does show; in everyday commuting and the get up and go when you are stepping on it. The gearbox felt strong on the upshifts on race mode and more importantly even stronger on the downshifts, which is what really makes an auto box shine.
So what are our first impressions about the new Jaguar XE? Well, we think it’s a very interesting alternative to what is now becoming, to be honest, the run of the mill German alternatives. In a country like our little island we feel the design aesthetic is brilliant and a refreshing addition to the roads of Colombo and the suburbs. The interior quality is what you expect of Jaguar with its heritage in performance and luxury and it certainly doesn’t disappoint in the performance front too. All in all we are very happy to see another competitor to that compact executive saloon market in Sri Lanka and SML frontier seems to have cracked the spec of the car to truly give potential customers something to consider if looking to enter the world of a Jaaaaag.
Price as driven RS. 17,900,000/=
Words: Shane Walgama
Images: Vihan Herath
A Big Thank you to: SML Frontier Automotive