With prestige compact saloons like the XE, the vast majority of buyers go for diesel power. Two choices are offered, both 2.0-litre units with either 161- or 178bhp. The former will be the most popular due to its low CO2 emissions and fuel consumption, but its performance isn’t quite as impressive as its efficiency. There’s a decent slug of torque once you hit the mid-range, but it feels a shade lazy below that and runs out of puff towards the top of the dial. If you specify the optional eight-speed automatic in place of the notchy six-speed manual, your performance feels strangled further because the gearbox is rather hesitant in switching gears. That said, the auto’ does swap cogs pretty smoothly, making it a more relaxed and pleasurable car to drive than the manual. The more powerful diesel has similar characteristics, but the extra punch it delivers mean that the various hesitancies in performance aren’t quite so pronounced. The diesels aren’t quite as refined as the ‘Ultra’ diesels from Audi, but they’re quiet compared with the noisy units fitted to the Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3 Series. You do feel a bit of vibration through the controls, though. Bizarrely, petrol buyers have more choice. There are two turbocharged four-cylinder petrols with 197- and 237bhp, both mated to the auto’ ‘box, and we’ve tried the more powerful of the pair. It’s no slouch, and delivers a broad spread of power, but can sound a little strained when you work it hard. The S, meanwhile, has the same 335bhp supercharged V6 found in the XF sportscar, and it sounds a lot more menacing. The acceleration it gives is just as fearsome, polishing off the 0-62mph dash in just 5.1 seconds and providing blistering on-the-move pace. This is a car that will get you from place to place seriously rapidly.