Rear-wheel drive with four-wheel drive an option; an advanced, lightweight aluminium monocoque; a new modular family of powerful and efficient engines that could be easily adapted to suit changing market conditions; a genuinely sophisticated suspension system; and styling that would engage the young thrusters in its cross hairs - the XE had all this and more.
Today, prices of the first cars start at £7000 for a 100,000-mile 2.0d 163 SE manual, around £1000 less than the equivalent BMW 320d SE. The XE we have in mind has done 106,000 miles and has one company owner in the logbook and full service history.
A shame it's not the automatic, with its natty 'twist and rise' selector. Otherwise, SE's not bad, having 17in alloys, electrically adjustable front seats, dual-zone climate control, autonomous emergency braking, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning and an 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav, Bluetooth, DAB radio and smartphone integration.
And to think there are four more trims, too: Prestige and Portfolio for fans of luxury and R-Sport (our favourite) and S for sportier types.
Given the XE's fleet ambitions, it's no surprise that diesel models easily outnumber petrol ones on the used market. There are two diesel engines, both 2.0 litres, producing 161bhp and 178bhp. The latter is punchier, more flexible and easier to live with but both are gruff when cold.
At launch, the petrols came in 197bhp and 237bhp 2.0-litre guises and a solitary 3.0-litre V6 with 335bhp, preserved for S trim (rare and thirsty but quick, well equipped and good value, starting at £15,995).
If the XE is your first taste of a modern 2.0-litre turbo petrol, you'll be surprised how quick and smooth the 197bhp unit feels. It'll do up to a real-world 50mpg, too. The 237bhp version is more impressive still - punchier and even more hushed. If you don't do the mileage, choose it over the diesels.
Because the petrols were the preferred choice of private buyers or desk-bound middle-rankers with a fatter car allowance, they tend to come in higher specs and with lower mileages. Hence prices start at around £13,750 for a 60,000-mile, 2016-reg 2.0i 200 Prestige auto.
In 2017, the four-pot engines were boosted by the arrival of a 237bhp twin-turbo diesel and 295bhp petrol. The V6 petrol went up to 375bhp.
Throughout, four-wheel-drive has been an option, although rarely taken up. That said, we found a four-wheel-drive 2016-reg 2.0d 180 Portfolio with 33,000 miles for £15,000. If you're fresh out of a front-drive car, you might find four driven wheels comforting. What you'll certainly find comforting is Portfolio trim's Windsor leather seats. Very Jaguar.
Multimedia Check this works smoothly and without glitches. Bluetooth connection can be a problem. A software update should fix most issues.
Body Beware unsightly panel gaps and check the high-level rear brake light for condensation caused by poor sealing. C heck the windscreen for small cracks (there's a theory the glass is on the thin side, so cracks more easily). †
Recalls There have been a handful ranging from fuel leaks to the possibility of the engine cutting out, so check they've been actioned.†
Interior Check you can live with the some of the low-rent plastics on pre-facelift cars.
Need to know
The warning 'Mind the gap' could have been created for the XE, whose panel gaps can be alarmingly inconsistent. Check those of the car you're interested in to see if an adjustment will help or if it's more serious.
Your chosen XE may be one of those that were sold with a five-year service plan costing £475. It seems an odd extra to have opted for in these days of three-year leases, but when the company's paying, who cares?
In the 2019 What Car? reliability survey, the Jaguar XE ranks bottom out of 22 executive cars. Diesel models recorded twice as many faults as petrols. Most XEs could still be driven and were fixed for free but the rest required work costing up to £1500.
XE 2.0i 200 R-Sport†Auto: The XE's answer to the BMW 320i M Sport has a smooth 197bhp petrol engine that's plenty quick enough and kit that includes sports suspension, an aggressive bodykit and bi-xenon headlights.
XE 3.0i 380 Supercharged†S Auto:†With 375bhp on tap and no four-wheel-drive system to bail you out, this version of the XE will take you for a walk on the wild side that you won't forget.
Ones we found
2015 XE 2.0 TD 163 Prestige, 138,000 miles, £7450
2016 XE 2.0 TD 180 R-Sport auto, 88,000 miles, £12,000
2017 XE 2.0 200 SE auto, 5000 miles, £17,500
2018 XE 3.0 380 S auto, 9000 miles, £28,000