Ride, Handling & Performance
Interior Comfort & Practicality
Technology & Safety
Value & Ownership
If there was ever a car that deserves a wider audience, it’s the Jaguar XE. Despite presenting a package that’s competitive in its segment, it hasn’t quite captured the imagination of luxury buyers.
When the XE originally launched, it was saddled with considerable expectations. Jaguar had done its homework and given the XE the juice to stick it to the Germans. What followed was largely anticlimactic.
The 2020 Jaguar XE brings the first significant update to the model since it hit the market five years ago.
Locally, Jaguar has mercifully trimmed the XE range to just two variants: R-Dynamic SE and HSE. Both are exclusively powered by the 2.0-litre 221kW/400Nm Ingenium turbocharged petrol engine matched to an eight-speed automatic that drives the rear wheels.
Our car is the range-topping XE R-Dynamic HSE which is priced from $71,940 plus on-road costs. At that price, it’s taking aim at the BMW 330i.
Standard kit across the XE range includes electric leather seats, front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera, autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, DAB+, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Stepping up to the R-Dynamic HSE adds 19-inch alloy wheels, Touch Pro Duo infotainment, blind-spot monitoring, high-speed emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, 18-way front seats with driver’s memory, an electrically adjustable steering column and a Meridian audio system.
Along with simplifying the line-up, Jaguar has devised five option packs to make personalising the XE easier, you can read the details by clicking here.
The design has always been attractive thanks to its masculine stance and elegant proportions. It’s more engaging to look at compared to a BMW or Audi.
For 2020, Jaguar has borrowed elements from the F-Type sports car to give a sportier appearance. There are larger front apertures, new LED headlights, a redesigned rear bumper and slimmer all-LED tail-lights with an updated signature. These changes combine to give the XE a lower and wider look.
Inside is where the biggest leaps have been made. There are better materials throughout, new door cards, upgraded sports seats, and the latest Touch Pro Duo infotainment system.
The most noticeable change is the beautifully sculpted steering wheel from the electric I-Pace, it’s a real work of art, and in our opinion one of the best tillers in the business. Not only is it lovely to hold, it’s also gorgeous to look at.
The good news doesn’t stop there, the driving position is excellent, the digital instrument binnacle is crystal clear, and the new pistol gear selector leaves the old rotary dial for dead.
While the updated infotainment system is a welcome addition, it can't match BMW’s OS7.0 we recently tested. The Jag’s graphics look old when compared to the latest German systems. It’s not a deal-breaker, we were content to rely on Apple CarPlay for our navigation and entertainment needs.
Where the XE’s cabin really comes unstuck is the back seat. For a car riding on a 2835mm wheelbase, legroom for those in the back can be tight to non-existent depending on the driver. If those up front are over 180cm tall, the backs seats are rendered useless. This will knock the XE off the shortlists of buyers needing to carry rear-seat passengers.
Things don’t improve much in the boot, the Jag offers a 410L luggage capacity which is below the Mercedes-Benz C-Class (435L), BMW 3 Series (480L) and Audi A4 (480L).
It’s best to consider the XE as more of a coupe with a 2+2 configuration. It’s a hefty price to pay for the exterior’s beautiful lines, but them's the breaks.
The empire does strike back when the engine starts. The XE was born a sharp, sporty handler and it remains so. To its core, it’s a genuine sports sedan that encourages you to give it a boot full.
Thanks to a rigid chassis, body control is excellent regardless of speed. It’s beautifully balanced and shows the poise of an Olympic gymnast when pushed.
Jaguar’s suspension engineers have held up their end, remarkably, the car remains comfortable over imperfections without compromising the XE’s sporty feel.
The confidence-inspiring stability of the XE plays well with the perfectly judged throttle response and steering to show a playful side in the corners. The rear will step out with very little effort, it’s lovely and exactly what a sports sedan should be.
It’s worth noting, our car was optioned with Jaguar’s Configurable and Adaptive Dynamics technology. Both of these options are part of the Dynamic Handling pack for $2090.
The tech allows you to configure the car’s transmission, throttle response and steering weighting to your taste. In the context of the total spend, keen drivers should tick the box.
All 400Nm are available from just 1500rpm, so it gets off the line with ease. There’s no lag, it just goes. We are a fan of this engine, it’s useable power is the perfect match to the XE’s chassis, suspension and steering package. It’s got all the thrust you need.
At times, the eight-speed ZF transmission was overly busy. To a large degree, the dynamic driving mode puts an end to the jumping around by holding onto each ratio for a fraction longer.
Now the XE isn't just a corner carver, it’s also a talented highway cruiser that offers a refined ride with very little wind whistle or tyre roar. It’s a nice place to enjoy a long stint behind the wheel making it an option for those wanting a GT car.
We were lucky enough to cover 602km during our test week, returning a combined fuel consumption figure of 8.3L/100km. Not bad when you consider the athletic driving the XE was subjected to.
In terms of ownership, Jaguar offers a pre-paid service plan for $1950 that covers the XE for five years or 102,000km, whatever comes first. This is very competitive when compared to what rivals charge.
With a standard three-year, 100,000km warranty, Jaguar is off the pace. The majority of mainstream brands now offer a minimum of five-year coverage. Rival Lexus offers a four-year warranty while Mercedes-Benz and Volvo have recently moved to a permanent five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. The pressure is now on Jaguar Land Rover, BMW and Audi to lift their game.
The XE is one of those brilliant cars that is underappreciated. Its breadth of ability isn't properly reflected in the sales data.
Unfortunately, the rear seats are the concrete slippers that hold the XE back. For some, that will rule it out before the driving experience comes into play.
If you don’t need to regularly carry people you like in the back, the XE is an excellent car to drive, it has the dynamic ability to stick it to the BMW 3 Series.
Throw in the cracking engine, the refreshed exterior and the updated cabin and this is the quintessential luxury sports sedan.
Finally, Jaguar is a long way off the market saturation point of its German rivals, so there’s still an air of prestige when it comes to the British marque. The fact that they are not on every street makes the car feel that extra bit special, which in turn makes the driver feel that extra bit special. And isn't that what a luxury car is supposed to do?
2020 Jaguar XE R-Dynamic HSE Specifications
Price from $71,940 plus on-road costs Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol Power 221kW @ 5500rpm Torque 400Nm @ 1500-4500 rpm Transmission eight-speed automatic Combined Fuel Consumption 6.9L/100km Tank Capacity 63L Performance 0-100km 5.9 seconds Length 4678mm Width 2075mm Height 1416mm Wheelbase 2835mm Weight 1633kg Turning Circle 11.2m Service Intervals 12 months/16,000km Warranty three year/unlimited kilometre
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