By Nauman Farooq
The Jaguar XE first showed up back in 2016 with a big task on its hands… it had to fight to win over clients from the BMW 3 Series, the Audi A4, the Mercedes-Benz C-class, and the Lexus IS.
In order to compete properly, the XE was offered with a range of engines, from the base four-cylinder, to the peppy V6. Jaguar even made a brilliant super sports sedan version called the XE SV Project 8 which featured a V8.
So, in theory, there was an XE for everyone!
However, sales figures tell a different story. Looking at US data, the XE didn’t even find 10 percent of the buyers that BMW and Mercedes-Benz found, and with the trend forever seemingly going towards SUVs and CUVs, it would not have been much of a shocker if Jaguar had decided to axe the XE from their line up!
Rather than give up, Jaguar decided to update the XE for the 2020 model. They’ve streamlined their offering by eliminating the option of the supercharged V6 and V8 (the latter, which was found in the Project 8, was limited to just 300 units globally anyway). They’ve also freshened up the styling, and made changes to the interior. Question is, will it work this time to conquest sales over its rivals?
Time to find out!
Styling: The styling update is subtle – I mean, only those who know cars will be able to tell if they’re looking at the new XE or the old one. The biggest difference is that the headlights and tail lights are much slimmer now, giving the car a sleeker look.
Will it attract more buyers with its refreshed styling? That only time will tell!
Interior: Step inside, and to anyone that has spent a good amount of time in the old XE, will clearly see the improvements in the new model. Everything now sits where they should, especially the window switches – you no longer need to stretch to get to them.
The infotainment system has improved thanks to a larger screen that is much more responsive to your touch than it used to be, plus it now has a double-screen setup, with the lower screen mainly for climate control – although, it is very configurable, and you can control audio functions from it, too. Couple that with the instrumentation also on a TFT screen, and you now have three screens in front of you – so if you like analog gauges and buttons, this car isn’t for you!
In the center console, the gear selector used to be a rotary knob, but now is a lever. Given the extra screen below the main infotainment screen, I think the older rotary gear selector would have been better, as it took less space.
Space inside is the same as before, which means its plentiful for those in the front, but not a lot of legroom for those in the back.
The best thing in here is the new steering wheel, which is not only great to look at, but really nice and meaty to hold, too.
Overall, the interior is nicer than it used to be, so a step in the right direction.
Powertrain: Only one engine is offered on the 2020 XE – but in two configurations!
Under the hood is a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder unit, which in the base ‘SE’ trim serves up 247 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque.
If you opt for the ‘R-Dynamic’ trim, as my tester, you’ll then get that same engine tweaked up to produce 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.
Performance & Driving Dynamics: Regardless of the power output, both XE models have an electronic speed limiter that will not let you go past 195 km/h – which to be fair, is fast enough. The more powerful ‘R-Dynamic’ is quicker though, taking 5.7 seconds to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h – the ‘SE’ would take 6.5 seconds.
In short, both XE trims are plenty quick for everyday running about. Engage “Dynamic” mode and the new XE really impresses – although, to be fair, having driven the old supercharged V6 models, the older cars had more grunt, and also sounded better.
As you would expect from a Jaguar, the ride and handling is brilliant! It attacks corners, and pulls out of them with composure and gusto – the standard all-wheel drive system helps massively in this area. Its eight-speed automatic gearbox is excellent, with perfectly matched gear ratios and quick shifts – this is a sports sedan that is more fun to drive than some sports cars.
Fuel Economy: In my fuel economy test (where I drive a car 170 km on the highway + 130 km in the city) the 2020 Jaguar XE P300 averaged 10.6 L/100 km. Compared to the old XE P380 with the V6 engine –that I tested last year- it is a gain of 1.7 L/100 km (as that car had averaged 12.3). I was hoping the difference between the two would have been greater than it actually is.
Also remember to feed your Jaguar premium fuel, so running costs are high – but then, all luxury cars in this class ask for premium fuel.
Pricing: The 2020 Jaguar XE SE has a base price of $49,900. The R-Dynamic model is yours from $55,800. That makes the XE more expensive than its rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz – but the differences are quite marginal.
Verdict: Kudos to Jaguar for not giving up on the XE. It would have been far easier to have killed off the model, but they instead invested to give it another fighting chance.
The 2020 Jaguar XE is a lovely car, but I wish there were more engine options, especially ones with more cylinders – I really hope to get to sample the Project 8 someday, that’ll be a dream come true!