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BMW 320d, Jaguar XE 20d, Mercedes C 250 d: Will the Jaguar XE take the lead?

Achim Hartmann
BMW 320d, Jaguar XE 20d, Mercedes C 250 d
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The first attempt to poach in the area of ​​the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, J aguar not exactly a big booty. From 2001 to 2009 only about 350,000 X-Type were built, while the German competitors from the same era each found well over two million buyers. But unlike its predecessor, the Jaguar XE is not a disguised Ford Mondeo, but an ambitious, completely new home-grown product from the British and, after the positive impression in the individual test, a real rival for the established premium middle class.

Jaguar XE 20d with 180 hp against the German top dogs

Let's see, because next to the Jaguar XE 20d Prestige with 180 hp for 41,250 euros are now also the two top dogs as sparring partners, each in the popular combination with four-cylinder diesel and automatic transmission: the C 250 d with an avant-garde exterior and 204 hp for 45,428 euros and the newly renovated 320d with 190 hp and lavish luxury equipment, which raises the basic price from 39,400 to 44,750 euros. In addition, all test cars have optional chassis and wheels (18 inches) as well as other class-standard extras on board, which add up to a few thousand.

The fact that the 3 Series competes here as a Luxury means standard niceties such as Heated leather seats, real wood decor and chrome trim, but no change in character. On the contrary: for the 2016 model year, BMW polished the driving dynamics profile to a high gloss, made handling and steering even more sensual. The tighter basic setup with modified dampers, together with the variable sports steering (250 euros) and the adaptive chassis (1,100 euros), results in extremely precise, agile and joyful cornering, plus the fastest speeds in slalom and double lane changes. Any questions?

BMW 320d now with firmer chassis and more steam

Yes, about comfort, for example. Even the previous model wasn't a sedan chair, and transverse joints now come through a bit drier, in sport mode almost hard. When high payloads and badly bumpy roads collide, the rear axle can even go into block and move the car sideways. No drama andEspecially not a safety risk, but the rivals deal with such distortions noticeably more calmly and confidently, even though the BMW nominally tolerates the least ballast (455 kg).

The new two-liter diesel is all the more determined not with better manners, but with more power (190 hp) and torque (400 Nm) than before. It looks extremely lively and willing to turn, receives the right gear accurately and almost imperceptibly from the automatic sports system and, thanks to its 120 kg lower curb weight, achieves practically the same performance as the more powerful Mercedes. However, it does not benefit from consumption, because with 6.7 l per 100 km it allows itself exactly as much as the previous model and a little more than the competition.

In return, the brakes grip very vehemently and steadfastly , the safety equipment is extensive and efficient, and ergonomics and space are right. In any case, the 3 Series sets the standard when it comes to operation via the iDrive controller, and even the interior, which was previously rather average, now looks more valuable in detail. A strong overall package and a tough opponent that the makers of the XE have chosen as a benchmark.

Agile handling and slight quality weaknesses in the Jag

Not stylistically, mind you, that's where the Jaguar steps -Limousine with very similar dimensions in a subtle way independent and special. The wide grill, for example, is reminiscent of the first XJ, and the coupé-like flat roof pavilion that gently tapers into the rear is a tradition at Jaguar. The fact that it restricts the entry and space in the rear a little can get over it, as well as the moderate view especially to the rear and the uneven loading floor under the small tailgate.

The weaknesses in the processing, on the other hand, can be even the beautiful, but Thinly padded leather seats with decorative stitching can hardly hide: cladding with different looks and material quality, unclean fits and dreary, low-contrast instruments look at least careless for the price range and claim, the body quality is not yet completely polished and ripe. At the next opportunity, one could provide more storage space and less cumbersome operation of the touchscreen infotainment. After starting the vehicle with the start button, the new two-liter diesel starts the load (1,638 kg), which is not exactly light, despite the high proportion of aluminum, in motion. The eight-speed automatic transmission hides its small starting weakness with torque converter slip, but during intermediate spurts or when accelerating out of curves it often acts more slowly and indecisively than the identical unit in the BMW. That the Jaguar XE 20d isn't quite like that accelerated vehemently, it makes up for it with the lowest test consumption on this lap (6.2 l /100 km).

Most enthusiasm for theBrits, however, awaken its light-footed, lively handling and the homogeneous, direct electromechanical steering. Between the thirst for action of the 3 Series and the restraint of the C-Class, the Jaguar has found its own way, following the course it has taken precisely and smoothly. Despite the tight basic set-up, comfort is not neglected either, and in addition to the good brakes, even the low costs, including a three-year guarantee and free inspections, make it easier to choose the Jaguar XE 20d.

Mercedes C 250 d cultivates classic brand virtues

In contrast, the C-Class has never been suspected of being a bargain, at the highest basic price there is only the leanest equipment. But almost everything is available for good money, especially the range of convenience and security assistants leaves nothing to be desired in terms of scope or quality. It is all the more astonishing that the brakes are weakening and lag behind the very good BMW values ​​when it comes to deceleration. In general, the C 250 d seems to want to slow down any change in dynamics by the driver, instead cultivating classic brand virtues such as quality or comfort and the feeling of a 'heavy car'. Although it masters abrupt maneuvers as safely and calmly as its rivals, it prefers to weigh its passengers over bumpy roads with the optional air suspension (1,416 euros). The fact that it does not put up with hard cross joints and high payloads so easily does not change its special position in this discipline.

Even the double-charged 2.1-liter diesel with 204 hp and 500 Nm retains acoustically , uses the force of its torque to cover up the sometimes hesitant gear changes of the seven-speed automatic and the high curb weight. In addition, the massive construction is not noticeable in subdued temperament or increased consumption, but in an unshakable solidity right into the interior. He doesn't have more space than the 3 Series, which he has to give victory to in the end.

The Jaguar XE 20d lacks a few more points, especially in terms of quality, operation and safety equipment, it shows weaknesses . But at the same time, it has never been so easy and seductive to keep a Jaguar precisely because of its objective strengths. Not everyone needs to know that the smallest of the clan has made the biggest leap in terms of value for money.

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