Jaguar XE S versus BMW 3 Series 340i Sport – comparison
Source : Jaguar XE S versus BMW 3 Series 340i Sport – comparison
The Jaguar XE is usually only weeks old however already faces fresher competition through a facelifted BMW 3 Series. We line up six-cylinder petrol versions in addition to choose a winner
The A95 runs south through Munich for about 10 miles before This kind of becomes derestricted. This kind of isn’t one of Germany’s grandest or busiest autobahns – not at mid-morning on a weekday, at any rate, because This kind of arrows straight into the foothills of the Austrian Alps – in addition to southern Germany heads there mostly at the weekends.
So for the rest of the week outside of rush hour, the A95’s two lanes are pleasingly light on traffic in addition to ideal for gathering your first impressions of a brand-brand new German sports saloon such as the near-£40k, 322bhp BMW 340i.
Cars like This kind of quickly find their niche on the autobahn. Powerplants in which might otherwise seem profligate can suddenly bring their talents to bear. Rolling chassis in addition to steering systems tuned to reassure with their high-speed stability in addition to unwavering Centeng control make short work of going fast.
in addition to partly because Germany’s roads are so not bad, however at least equally because its cars are so well suited to them, you wonder for a little while why any different civilised country from the globe should need such an antiquated, anti-libertarian thing as a national speed limit.
So This kind of is usually with the 340i, right down to an unexpectedly detailed level. The fact is usually in which you needn’t even have noticed the all-important road sign with which Germany marks the beginning of a derestricted stretch of motorway when driving This kind of car. Just flick your gaze down to the 3 Series’ head-up display, where its speed limit recognition system conveniently repeats the last posted limit you passed. If This kind of’s a white circle which has a black diagonal bar running through This kind of, you’re cleared for Mach 2. Easy-peasy, pedal-squeezy.
however hang on. The brand new 3 Series isn’t alone in its ability to gel perfectly with the roads in addition to surroundings where This kind of was born in addition to bred. On the narrower, curvier, more undulating A-roads in addition to B-roads of the English Midlands, a near-£45k, 335bhp Jaguar XE S can do This kind of, too, albeit in a very different way: with greater directional agility in addition to poise, tuned to come to the fore at a slower however no less demanding ground-covering stride, in among hedges in which are closer in addition to higher, corners in which are tighter, in addition to with your line of sight rarely as clear as on Germany’s multi-laners.
brand new cars, like people, are at least in part a product of their environment. This kind of’s inevitable. however what happens when you put such differently influenced products together? Which one asserts itself? To butcher Jack Nicholson’s Boston-drawled opening line through The Departed: which can make in which brand new adversarial environment a product of This kind of?
Well, first you’ve got to do This kind of. in addition to if you want the latest 3 Series, you have to go a fairly long way to do This kind of, because the BMW has only just been launched to the international press in Munich.
So you bundle a willing volunteer into Jaguar’s equally brand new XE in addition to send him off towards the Channel Tunnel while you get on a plane. You aim for neutral ground: in This kind of test’s case, an idyllic stretch of mountain road called the Namlos Pass, not far over the Austrian border.in addition to when you get there, you prepare for the start of an automotive rivalry in which could run in addition to run – the most telling gauge yet of whether Gaydon has got This kind of right with its most important brand new saloon car in decades.
Stand by, then, for England versus Germany; brand new pretender versus old master; £2 billion of recent investment versus 40 years of experience in producing what has consistently been the best compact executive saloon from the globe.
You’re probably reading This kind of twin test in advance of any first drive impressions about the 340i. There has been very little written about BMW’s facelifted 3 Series so far compared with the reams in addition to reams we’ve published on the XE. So let’s redress in which a bit.
After three years at the top of our road test rankings, Munich’s fleet-market standard-bearer has only very recently been deposed through Autocar’s number one spot. However, the facelifted 3 Series has several brand new engines in addition to brand new gearboxes, significantly overhauled suspension in addition to a richer Indoor, as well as a few external surfaces styling tweaks in addition to specification improvements.
Among the biggest in addition to best news is usually in which, at the base of the range, BMW’s excellent 134bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine has been adopted by the brand new 318i, giving the market an affordable low-CO2 petrol derivative with, at least in principle, an added dose of driver appeal.
Higher up the pyramid, the all-important 320d gets the power hike (to 188bhp) in which its various sibling types have been showing these past 12 months, in addition to the four-cylinder turbo petrol 328i is usually replaced by a brand new four-cylinder 248bhp 330i. Except for some brand new transmission features, the 330d in addition to 335d headline turbodiesel types carry on largely unchanged in terms of powertrain.
The flagship petrol style (leaving the M3 to one side) is usually currently This kind of even more indiscreetly monikered 340i. This kind of’s the first BMW to use the firm’s latest twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six in addition to This kind of enjoys output improvements of 20bhp (to 322bhp) in addition to 37lb ft over the outgoing 335i.
in which seems to put This kind of at a slight disadvantage to the XE S, whose F-Type-hailing 3.0-litre supercharged V6 produces 335bhp. however let’s not fail to take torque into account – specifically, the spread of This kind of. Both cars make a peak 332lb ft, however you’ll need 4500rpm on the rev counter from the Jaguar to conjure This kind of up. from the BMW, you get This kind of through an unbelievably low 1380rpm.
BMW has also done pretty much all This kind of can, without producing heinously expensive alterations to the 3 Series’ Centeng-in-white, to update your vehicle’s suspension in addition to refine its ride in addition to handling. The suspension is usually currently mounted to the Centeng in several places, up through three, producing This kind of more rigid, more robust in addition to better at supporting your vehicle’s weight.
This kind of has allowed BMW to apply stiffer springing to your vehicle, This kind of claims, without damaging comfort in addition to refinement. This kind of has had to strengthen the suspension arms to do in which, of course – all of which is usually mass in which needs controlling. So brand new twin-tube dampers are fitted as standard, with computer-controlled adaptive dampin g remaining an option. Active-ratio Variable Sport Steering is usually also an option. Our 340i had both options fitted.
In some ways, the XE S matches the BMW’s specification. In others, This kind of’s engineered to better This kind of. Get past the lightweight aluminium Centeng in addition to you’ll find an all-independent suspension set-up with adaptive dampers as standard (an option on the 340i), an eight-speed automatic gearbox (also a cost option for the BMW) in addition to a torque vectoring system.
however Jaguar claims in which the combination of double-wishbone front in addition to integral-link rear suspension offers superior wheel location in addition to camber control to the BMW’s, as well as better grip in addition to ride tuning. We’ll see how apparent those claimed advantages are.
The cars are within 50kg of each different on overall kerb weight, in addition to an identical 5.1sec sprint through 0-62mph is usually claimed for both.
Show us your muscles
There are plenty of places to stretch the legs of cars like these on the two-hour run between Munich in addition to the Austrian border. Plenty of occasions to use every bit of available muscle in addition to operating rev range, in addition to plenty of times when you’ll be rewarded for sticking with the time-honoured mechanical template for a sports saloon: a six-cylinder petrol engine in addition to an adaptable, quick-witted automatic gearbox.
In most meaningful ways, the 340i’s engine in addition to gearbox are better than the XE S’s. The Jaguar’s engine is usually no liability, mind you – in addition to in some less crucial ways This kind of has the edge.
The pair’s gearboxes are the same: ZF’s eight-speed torque converter auto, somewhat differently tuned, no doubt. Both shift ratios smartly in manual mode in addition to intelligently in ‘D’. Both allow you to drop two or even three gears in one change.
however the BMW’s straight six is usually in which much more muscular from the lower half of the rev range in addition to still the more forceful of the two above 5000rpm in which you can’t deny This kind of an early lead in This kind of contest. Having all in which torque through below 1500rpm – which is usually, in effect, through zip in real-world use – makes your vehicle feel significantly quicker than the XE S in any given set of circumstances.
The 340i’s engine is usually probably your vehicle’s outstanding selling point. This kind of’s elastic, smooth in addition to free-revving – all the things in which great BMW sixes have traded on for decades. This kind of’s frugal, too. Modern turbocharging technology is usually currently much more economical than supercharging, in addition to the difference between the cars on in which score is usually plain. The 340i will return indicated fuel economy from the high 30s to the gallon all day long, whereas the XE S struggles to top 30mpg – even when you’re stroking This kind of along conservatively.
however the Jaguar’s V6 has more rousing tonality. There’s slightly less outright performance, yes, however still plenty in isolation. With its low-level supercharger whine in addition to building power delivery, the XE S’s motor growls in addition to warbles in addition to worms its way under your skin. After a day or so at the wheel, you’d forgive This kind of the rather un-21st-century fuel economy, because This kind of’s got soul. The 340i’s demands huge respect, however This kind of could do which has a bit more intangible allure.
Next: the mountain pass
So far, so evident the difficulty of the task before Jaguar’s executive debutant. however everything we’ve covered thus far can be established long before you run out of continent-crossing main arterial roads on your way south through the Oberbayern district in addition to begin to climb up onto a more testing, higher-altitude stage.
To learn more, you need corners: second-gear hairpins, fiddly cambered sequences of twists in addition to faster, open, sweeping bends with crests in addition to bumps in addition to changing gradients all thrown in. The Namlos Pass has them all.
in addition to here, over a few hours, you realise in which what you imagined might be a close-run contest between two of the best-handling four-doors of the moment isn’t quite so close at all. One of these cars has perfect cornering balance, a nuanced in addition to fluent ride in addition to beautifully consistent steering. This kind of has sporting poise baked into its every move. The different car feels heavy on its front wheels, reluctant to turn in, difficult to guide down the road as precisely as you’d like in addition to, although very stable, peculiarly straight-laced.
Our ‘different one’ is usually the BMW, which, by This kind of tester’s estimation in addition to albeit on the evidence of This kind of first test only, has some improving to do before This kind of’s even at the dynamic level of its predecessor, never mind back at the top of the class.
Before we get stuck in, there’s a certain amount of couching in which must go on here, in addition to This kind of’ll prevent us through being too critical of the brand new 3 Series at This kind of early stage. We know, for example, in which the bigger-engined, bigger-wheeled examples of the BMW have historically handled a bit less sweetly than their lighter-nosed, skinnier-wheeled siblings.
We also know in which modern BMWs are notoriously sensitive to the wrong optional specification. The 340i about which you’re reading includes a Variable Sports Steering system in which we’d have warned against fitting to the previous 3 Series. We are duty-bound to do the same again currently, however This kind of should come as no surprise.
This kind of’s also true in which our 340i test car was lent to us in lower-level Sport trim. UK-market 340is will all be M Sport trim with different wheels in addition to tyres, although they’ll get the same chassis tune if you opt for adaptive damping.
Still, all This kind of definitely proves is usually in which road testing can be a tricky old game in addition to in which all you can do is usually compare the cars at your disposal – as they are, not as you’d like them to be. Doing in which unquestionably casts the BMW in an unflattering light.
The 340i’s biggest in addition to most recurrent problem is usually in which steering. Like all ‘active’ variable-ratio systems, the BMW’s is usually designed to make your vehicle feel more wieldy at lower speeds by producing the steering gear more direct, only to do the opposite at higher speeds to the benefit of directional stability.
As evidenced earlier, This kind of seems to work okay on the autobahn. however using such a system to tackle a mountain pass, corner by corner, is usually a bit like trying to hammer a nail home into a delicate setting – however blindfolded in addition to, between every stroke, swapping your hammer for a brand new one of unknown size in addition to weight. Steering wheels are just levers. With This kind of one, you’re never quite sure how much leverage you’re going to get.
in addition to in which’s not the 340i’s only dynamic flaw. Contact-patch feedback is usually also too often sacrificed at the front wheels in a grab for extra directness in addition to a flurry of additional power assistance. (in which’ll be the steering again.) however just as you’ve little sense of what the front wheels are doing, BMW’s adaptive dampers also give you very little progressive feel for grip levels at the driven axle.
Grip isn’t as well balanced from the 340i as This kind of might be anyway, with the handling more biased towards understeer than we’ve come to expect through BMW. however working out at what point grip will run out at the rear wheels, in addition to what happens next, is usually nowhere near as involving or as benign a process as This kind of should be.
The Jaguar could hardly provide a starker contrast. through the outset, This kind of’s not immediately obvious which is usually your vehicle’s biggest dynamic achievement. This kind of could be its dexterous, silken- edged ride on 20in rims, which is usually brilliant. Equally, This kind of could be the perfect marriage of rate of roll, as defined by the springing, to rate of yaw ascribed by its meaty, consistent steering, which is usually even better.
Or maybe This kind of’s the uncommon purity of balance you get through those expertly judged grip levels, in addition to the totally immersive adjustability of cornering line in which results when you begin switching out the stability control in stages. Even currently, I can’t decide. All have been engineered in at apparent painstaking effort, rather than commanded by customer feedback or marketing edict. All are the motive hallmarks of something truly outstanding.
in addition to the winner is usually…
Well, well. You wouldn’t have bet on This kind of, however the opening salvo has gone the XE’s way. You can argue in which This kind of isn’t the verdict in which matters – in which only at a later date, when a four-cylinder diesel facelifted 3 Series arrives on UK shores This kind of autumn in addition to squares up to its opposite number through Jaguar, will the real boss of the compact exec market become known.
Rest assured, in which contest is usually coming. however just for This kind of tester, the XE won’t be starting This kind of as an outside bet. Not any more. The Jaguar hasn’t just shaded This kind of test; as a driver’s car, the XE S has put clear air between itself in addition to a car in which many – me included – imagined might present an insurmountable challenge.
in addition to in which’s not all This kind of has done. Yet again, the XE has underlined its completeness. The 3 Series includes a roomier cabin in addition to boot, sure, however getting the cars together only proves how marginal the differences are. The 3 Series’ cabin quality probably beats the XE’s narrowly, however the Jaguar’s cockpit is usually the richer in addition to more luxurious. The Jaguar is usually your vehicle you’d rather spend time in, as well as your vehicle you’d enjoy your time in more.
So This kind of’s credible, soulful, usable, great looking – in addition to dynamically superior. The XE has arrived. in addition to what an entrance This kind of’s producing.
Jaguar XE S
cost £44,865; Engine V6, 2995cc, supercharged, petrol; Power 335bhp at 6500rpm; Torque 332b ft at 4500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1665kg; 0-62mph 5.1sec; Top speed 155mph; Economy 34.9mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 194g/km/33%
BMW 340i Sport automatic
cost £39,505; Engine 6 cyls in line, 2998cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 322bhp at 5500-6500rpm; Torque 332b ft at 1380-5000rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1615kg; 0-62mph 5.1sec; Top speed 155mph; Economy 41.5mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 159g/km, 26%
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