Bringing up the rear: Jaguar XE vs. rivals BMW and front-wheel drive Audi
The Audi comes closer than the Jaguar to match the BMW for absolute punching power, and it has better linearity of power delivery than the Jaguar’s Ingenium mass. The engine is always a little softer underfoot than I would like, it doesn’t look attractive enough and doesn’t particularly like to turn. The S3 is therefore fast. But the audible digital engine noise trickery that the Audi engages in when using its sportier drive modes seems almost comical after the other two cars, and it was a real turning point for this tester. On its own, if you weren’t really paying attention to the “real” sound of your car when you properly explore its capabilities, it might not offend you as much.
That would offend me, however, and that would be the reason why I would rarely, if ever, drive the S3 in dynamic mode, which is a shame considering how much grip it can develop, how well its body control is. can be well tied and how a lot of tenacity and attitude of the chassis. Our test car (on 19-inch wheels and optional adaptive shocks) had a rather different dynamic outlook than the softer, slightly more talkative Jaguar and was a reasonably attractive alternative.
While the XE rolls and breathes a bit with bumps as you stretch your legs on a road trip, the S3 feels thinner, tighter, more strapped in, and more eager to be pushed around. The XE has greater fine precision and a natural balance about its handling; it squeezes through turns so easily and glides past peaks, allowing you to kick in early while keeping its course effortlessly and allowing its body to move a bit.
The S3 is more of a handful, but a sympathetic one at that, like a hot hatchback with a boot. Preferring much less to roll and jump, he claws the asphalt and you egg on it to give it more and more to do. It responds to greater steering loads with an increasing response rate, stays flat and level under a lot of side loads, and feels less balanced than the XE but ready, perhaps, for cross-country speeds. higher under more test conditions, and a firmer operating hand.
Where does the BMW fit in? Well, it’s a lot more like the Audi than the Jag, as you might expect, but it’s less grippy on its stock 18-inch wheels and Bridgestone Turanza tires, with a front axle that’s much less willing. to jostle, and a slower, lighter, simpler and less communicative steering than either of its rivals. Despite a more energetic engine, the BMW lacks the sense of purpose, tension or toughness of Audi. It’s more practical and refined than the S3, but given its unsightly appearance and selfless entertainment, it can only be last in our calculations.