Back in 2017 Jaguar brought the XE to our shores as the most ‘affordable’ Jaguar in the country. Don’t get me wrong, affordable doesn’t necessarily mean CHEAP. The XE was however left behind in the most volatile car market in the world as its 3 best friends, the C-class, 3 series and the Audi A4 were way more futuristic in terms of equipment on offer, if not the driving dynamics. Fast forward to a new decade, we now have the new Jaguar XE which promises to be exhilarating to drive and tick all the right boxes.
After 1,000 km in 4 days with the Jaguar XE Petrol, here are my 2 cents on it:
z+ The Best Handling car I have driven till date. Period. Forget the 330i M sport, Heck it given gives an inferiority complex to the GLC 43 AMG in this department.
+ Ultimate styling, crafted with perfection. Forget heads, people turned their body to stare at it at every signal and colourful roads of Pondicherry. Those matte grey alloys added to the deadly character of the car.
+ Phenomenal Quality everywhere, those seats, that God-made steering wheel, those knobs and stacks are great to use just like a typical member of the JLR family
+ The 8-speed ZF transmission has s slight lag, which can be easily ignored. This gearbox has a sedate behaviour in the Eco mode than the Sport mode which makes the lag slightly more noticeable
+ The engineering team deserves an Oscar for replacing the lethargic, feather-light steering of the previous XE with this brilliantly tuned unit.
+ Super intelligent, definitely more than me. For eg, Once you slot in reverse, both the wing mirrors lower down to give a better visibility of the pavement while parking
+ Talking about the handling again, took a turn on the Bangalore-Chennai highway at a speed of 163 km ph and this was planted on the road like they are made for each other.
– The XE loves speed breakers, so much that I lost the count of number of times she kissed those massive humps of TN, of course, slightly
– This might be a Beta statement valid for this media car: I wasn’t happy with the unreliable front parking sensors. They failed to function in 2 instances and I ended up touching a crate of coke bottles once which left a minor scratch on the bumper. Will investigate if this is across other units produced too.
– The rear seat isn’t the best place to be in. Although it offers excellent under-thigh support (Hope MG ZS EV is reading this), the low placement of seat and humungous transmission tunnel for the 5th passenger are a let down. Strictly a 4 seater.
– Not the most user-friendly car in terms of accessing basic functionalities like temperature controls, in-built navigation, android auto connectivity etc. It takes time to get going
What’s new in the Jaguar XE 2020?
- Front and rear styling tweaks, including a larger front grille and redesigned rear diffuser
- Standard leather seats
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility
- Standard LED headlights, and upgraded interior materials.
- InControl Touch Pro Duo infotainment system; it adds a second touchscreen that handles the climate-control system and other vehicle controls, as well as a digital gauge cluster, digital rearview mirror, and a wireless-charging pad for phones
The headlamps are slimmer and wrap themselves around more aggressively, the grille has grown larger by adding more width and the bumper has been redesigned to look sleeker with larger apertures to vent air. The Jaguar badge in the centre of the grille is new, incorporating Jaguars new ethos leaning towards sustainability and safety. The headlamps are now full LED. They also have a new LED graphic element that gets animated when the indicators are switched on.
At the rear, the taillights have also grown slimmer and have a new graphic element incorporated, with redesigned bumpers enveloping scooped out lower air dams. One new inclusion is that al Jaguar cars will have a new nomenclature system, indicating the engine type and power output in it. So the car I drove was the D180 with a smaller badge below it indicating the trim level. There are new alloy wheels options available as well sized at 17 inches.
Jump inside though and the interior is where most of the changes have taken place. Gone is the outdated infotainment system and instrument cluster, replaced by large digital screens that really give it a modern look. It even has Apple CarPlay, which has been long overdue for Jaguar Land Rover.
Move inside the car and the changes are a bit more evident. There were three areas that were critically touched upon. These were the steering wheel, the centre stack and the wraparound dashboard. Starting from the steering wheel, it’s now got slimmer redesigned arms that house similar control buttons as before, except they are more stylized than before. The instrument binnacle behind the steering wheel now sports an interactive display.
Interior quality isn’t something Jaguar has been renown for in recent years, and while the inside of the XE is generally okay, with soft-touch materials in key places, it’s far from outstanding.
Things were improved during a mid-life facelift in 2019, but the plushness of the leather and how solidly the interior panels feel bolted together is still a long way behind a BMW 3 Series – let alone an Audi A4. The XE does edge the Alfa Romeo Giulia for interior quality, though.
There are completely new door cards, a refreshed centre console and a new steering wheel. Jaguar has also done away with the rotary gear selector, replacing it with a more traditional centre shift system, which it believes presents a sportier feel. I’m not really sure about that; I had a bit of a soft spot for that more practical and space-saving rotary dial.
Space & Practicality
If your highest priority was space, probably, you wouldn’t be reading this. XE is not the most spacious car in its segment and by a significant margin, I mean. If you thought sitting in the front was an issue, get set for a nightmare in the backyard. The biggest noticeable problem of all is the low slung seats which make you dream of the back seat of your Rover. While the under-thigh support is undoubtedly good, it does suffer from some serious shortcomings in the knee room and leg room department. Don’t get me wrong, its not as bad as the previous gen 3 series.
The trunk is reasonably deep with a low liftover height, but cabin storage is skimpy. The nooks are small, and the door pockets are suitable for maps only. Car seat anchors are very prominent, but the limited backseat space will be a problem if you’re trying to install a bulky rear-facing child safety seat. The trunk may also pose a problem if you want to do some heavy lifting with the big suitcases courtesy airport trips or your weekend trip to the nearest 9-hole golf course.
Having said that, its a no brainer that sedans aren’t bought for space or practicality either because when you tank up the fuel and hit the throttle hard, all the shortcomings are evaporated in the atmosphere.
I know, you were waiting for this, so do I. The XE is one of the cars that scream to be driven and driven faster around the corners because the handling of this machine is just mind boggling. Trust me, it gives some serious inferiority complex to cars a segment above when it comes to the driving dynamics.
Power and torque delivery is smooth and the rear-wheel drive setup with Jaguar’s lightweight aluminium chassis (the car weighs just around 1500kg), offers a package that is nimble and very responsive to corners. It’s a driver’s cars, and that’s what Jaguars are all about. It offers a great deal of feedback through the wheel and, as we spent hours punting it through highways of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry’s streets , it was a competent drive that inspired a sense of confidence to push harder and harder into corners. The car remaining utterly composed at all times. Taut, responsive steering and firm, well-modulated brakes also help the XE to meet the expectations of an athletic luxury sport sedan. You can choose between various Drive modes – Comfort, Eco, Dynamic and Rain/Snow – and I found that even in Comfort the XE provided plenty of driving entertainment.
In terms of suspension, there is a double-wishbone setup at the front, while the rear rides on an integral link arrangement. Jaguar composes the XE’s vehicle architecture mostly of lightweight aluminium in order to keep weight down, and my test vehicle included the Dynamic Handling Pack with a configurable adaptive suspension.
Pick the #jaguarxe over #bmw330i if:
- You want the BEST handling car you could drive for 60 big ones
- You want a much much better place to live in (Interiors are leaps and bounds better)
- You want a car with excellent braking. I don’t remember the last time I drove a car with brakes like this. Mahindra, please hire their Brake engineer. Those Goodyears did not move a millimeter in the curviest roads of TN at good speeds. Excellence!
- You want a Brilliant package of Excellent craftsmanship, Performance, Built and a great
- You love the seamless integration of Android auto/Apple carplay. Hey BMW, when are we getting one?
- You plan to keep the car for atleast 7 years. The depreciation of XE is much more significant than the 3 series in the used car market
- Brownie point: You want a car that’s a head turner. If you keep the 330i and XE next to each other, it looks like the XE will eat the 330i for breakfast
- * Please pick the Red, incase you decide to *
- Slightly more powerful (+8 bhp) but a whooping 200 kg lighter car
- You want a mean acceleration machine, the 3 is quicker by 0.7s
- Reliability is your priority
- You want to drive around in one of the best gearbox
- You want a better driving position with better front under-thigh support
- You have 3 people to onboard on the rear seat, although difficult but still better than XE
- You want a better clarity rear view camera
- You fancy gorgeous looking alloys
- Last but definitely not the least, if you love a car that drinks relatively less. The 330i would take you atleast for 2-3 km more for every litre of petrol it drinks. Infact, slot it in the eco mode you could have some unbelievable figures of 17+ kmpl for sedate driving on a highway
Should you buy One?
This is probably the first proper facelift of the Jaguar XE and its not surprising that it has received it after ages, especially considering how often its friends receive the update. Having said that, the XE is leaps and bounds ahead in terms of drive-ability, yes its better than the BME 330i M Sport too! If I had to pick a car for my weekend drifting sessions in the MMRT or BIC, I know where to head for. It ticks all the right boxes, has bundles of features while falling short of comfort in the rear seat but its elder sibling the XF does more justice in this department but its been quite sometime we haven’t heard about its facelift in India, Jaguar? Are you listening? 😉