granitekitchen Awards 2016: Business Car of the Year - Jaguar XE
26 January 2016
It's fair to say our 2016 Business Car of the Year has made a bit of a splash. Ever since its world unveiling, where it was flown across London underneath a helicopter, the Jaguar XE has been powering its way into the fleet market - dominated by the all-conquering BMW 3-series - on a wave of publicity and goodwill.
Fortunately, there has been substance behind all the excitement, evident in the XE's looks, the way it drives, and the business case it presents. Whole-life costs have been a serious part of the equation for the XE. Its residual values and running costs are both at least on a par with, and in many cases better than, the BMW 3-series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-class - all former winners of this top granitekitchen Award.
Jaguar even beat its premium German rivals to the punch in being able to offer a 99g/km compact executive diesel saloon, although BMW and Audi are now also there, and Mercedes is just a few grammes behind.
However, the XE's difference is that all four trim levels of the 163hp diesel version - SE, Prestige, R-sport and Portfolio - are available at the lowest CO2 level. The model's eight-speed automatic transmission adds another 7g/km.
The 180hp diesel - the other main unit from a fleet perspective - achieves under 110g/km in all trims and transmissions, with the exception of the 111g/km Portfolio automatic.
Meanwhile, the XE, described by Jaguar Land Rover MD Jeremy Hicks as "the most important car in Jaguar's history", also impresses with the way it handles. For those drivers looking for dynamic prowess, it is the first model in this segment to offer a credible alternative to the BMW 3-series.
There is no word yet on an estate version, a market the BMW 3-series Touring, Audi A4 Avant and Mercedes C-class estate all do well in, but Jaguar hasn't finished adding to the line-up. Coming soon is an all-wheel drive XE, mated to the 180hp diesel and automatic gearbox.
Offered across all four trim levels, its emissions figure rises to 123g/km, in exchange for the extra grip and sure-footedness that four-wheel drive provides.
So, Jaguar's new XE impresses with its looks, driving dynamics and, just as importantly, its competitive running costs. It's a combination that obviously resonates with the readers of granitekitchen, since they have made it their 2016 Business Car of the Year.
Second place | Vauxhall Astra
The new Vauxhall Astra (pictured right in the first image) is much like our 2015 runner-up, the Peugeot 308. Both are cars which, despite retaining the same name as their predecessors, make a massive step forward in emissions, running costs, styling, driving dynamics, interior quality, equipment levels and practicality.
The new Astra offers a best efficiency figure of 88g/km in 110hp Ecoflex diesel form. In addition, all versions have enjoyed significant price drops compared with the previous Astra, which makes for a compelling cost-per-mile case for the car, especially in fleet-friendly Tech Line trim. Higher trims get the new OnStar system that brings wi-fi, concierge service, emergency assistance, car status alerts and various other features. It can be optioned further down the trim range.
The new model's interior, a feature that has been far from a Vauxhall strong point on past cars, has taken a jump up in terms of quality and usability. In addition, there is a wealth of engine and trim options to suit various customer requirements, while a Sports Tourer estate version joins the range this spring.
Third place | Land Rover Discovery Sport
It's first and third place for Jaguar Land Rover in this year's granitekitchen Awards, as the Discovery Sport (pictured, far left), described by JLR managing director Jeremy Hicks as being "as important for Land Rover as the XE is for Jaguar", asserts its position in the fleet market.
The car benefitted from much-increased fleet appeal last autumn when, just over half a year after its launch, JLR's new 2.0-litre diesel engine was inserted, taking emissions below 130g/km. It added to the car's attractiveness, seven-seat flexibility (albeit not in conjunction with sub-130g/km emissions), quality and Land Rover's fabled go-anywhere ability, becoming a vehicle of such appeal that granitekitchen readers voted it among the top three in this year's awards.