RE: Jaguar XE MY2020: Driven

RE: Jaguar XE MY2020: Driven

Wednesday 10th April

Jaguar XE MY2020: Driven

A nip here and tuck there give the XE its most significant update yet



Despite the inexorable advance of the SUV, the compact executive saloon sector is still huge for the manufacturers involved - see how many 3 Series, C-Classes and A4s are sharing the outside lane with you for proof of that. Some have succeeded in muscling in on the Teutonic trio - Alfa Romeo most notably, with the Giulia - while other adversaries have been left floundering. Nominate your own contenders there...

The Jaguar XE has, since its launch in 2015, rather felt like a contender with unfulfilled potential. Parts of the car were superb; other parts were, well, slightly less than superb. Now it's mid-life facelift time, a perfect opportunity to regroup, tackle those qualms head on and properly take it to the established class leaders. Goodness knows the car needs to be good, what with the brand new 3 Series just launched and an A4 refresh just around the corner.

By now you'll probably be aware of what the facelift comprises, though it's worth reiterating a few points. There's a new look that Ian Callum sums up as "slightly meaner and more assertive" (but definitely not aggressive), a simplified range - 180hp diesel, 250hp or 300hp petrol, S, SE or HSE spec, all autos - a significant interior overhaul and some new equipment. Par for the facelift course, essentially.


What hasn't been touched - certainly not sufficiently so to warrant any inclusion in the press material - is the chassis. And that's absolutely fine, because the way the XE drives remains the very best facet of its character. By a margin. James Bond will always be debonair and elusive and, well, James Bond, regardless of the actor carousel; let's hope an XE always remains this good to drive no matter what else is altered.

All variants are available with rear- or all-wheel drive, passive or adaptively damped suspension, plus a variety of wheel sizes from 18- to 20-inches. And while there wasn't opportunity on the launch drive to test cars without Jaguar's Adaptive Dynamics option that brings the fancier dampers, spec seemingly makes precious little difference to the drive: there are distinct traits, sure, but all XEs exhibit that rare blend of dynamic poise, flow and engagement that apparently eludes rivals. That they always have, granted, but it's definitely a point worth stressing.

Hand on heart, the rear-wheel drive 250 petrol tested was probably preferable to the equivalent 180 diesel, feeling a little fleeter of foot, keener to turn and a tad more supple. Yet both proved more than agreeable company on the - admittedly quite flattering - roads of southern France, and experience suggests the outcome will not change back in the UK. The XE's trick is located in it being satisfying, precise and direct to drive briskly, while never losing sight of that overarching executive saloon remit. So it does supportive, cosseting and refined as well, aided by the kind of beautifully calibrated control weights that make the business of pointing an XE down the road seem like a genuine pleasure.


Sound familiar? It is. But whereas previously all this loveliness was used as the cherry-topping for an inconsistent sundae, now, suddenly, you find yourself in an interior worth savouring too. Ian Callum himself conceded that the cabin left the car a bit short before, but that's no longer the case. Now it feels like it's fair to say that your immediate surroundings are befitting of the rest of the XE.

Borrowing technology and bits from the I-Pace - most notably the steering wheel with new controls, optional Touch Pro Duo infotainment and digital dash - immediately makes the environment feel more modern (as well as logical), while the reduction in hard plastics (and commensurate increase in soft, squishy, expensive ones) has made the XE interior feel more premium - loath though we are to use the phrase. There's a sense of occasion now, parts like the metal gearshift paddles, knurled dials and more vivid displays lending some much-needed theatre that simply wasn't there before. Of course the rear quarters are still a bit cramped for human adults, though no longer is this is a cabin to make excuses for. The XE is a car customers could now conceivably buy because of the interior, not in spite of it as may once have been the case.

With the bar admittedly set high, it's a little more difficult to heap quite so much praise on the Ingenium powertrains. With memory of the old supercharged V6 still fresh, the four-cylinder turbo will never quite match it for emotional appeal and swiftness of response, leave alone outright performance. Even leaving that aside, the P250 2.0-litre is not remarkable among its direct rivals, lacking the verve of Alfa's competitor four-cylinder or the sharpest calibration of ZF automatic. Broadly speaking it's very good - but if it were as good as the rest of the car, it would be markedly better than it is.


Without much experience of diesel execs, it's challenging to state anything too definitive on the D180 XE, although for what it's worth the car never felt quite as strong as 317lb ft would suggest - and maybe not as hushed as you'd hope for in a Jaguar saloon. Again it seems decent enough, although certainly nothing about half a day in its company suggests that it's preferable to either of the petrol-burning units.

Even allowing for merely competitive (rather than class-leading) engines, this is patently the most desirable XE yet thanks to those interior and technology upgrades. For all the good reasons you'd like to think of, it feels like more of a Jaguar than it ever has. The problem? The problem, to put it bluntly, is that the XE still finds itself where it started - in arguably the most competitive market segment there is, surrounded by rivals who have all conspired to hit a rich vein of form at about the same time.

While it is unequivocally back in contention for class honours, where precisely the Jag ranks among them is impossible to know for certain on the basis of this first drive. But by retaining what made the XE so good before while addressing much of what was less desirable, Jaguar has certainly created a more complete, more appealing and simply more likeable junior executive car. Given the high perch that it already occupied, that's a fine achievement.


SPECIFICATION - JAGUAR XE P250
Engine:
1,997cc, four-cyl turbo
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 250@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 269@1,300-4,500rpm
0-62mph: 6.5secs
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 'from 1,611kg
MPG: 'up to 42.2'
CO2: 'from 154g/km'
Price: £n/a

SPECIFICATION - JAGUAR XE D180
Engine:
1,999cc, four-cyl diesel
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 180@4,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 317@1,750-2,000rpm
0-62mph: 8.1secs
Top speed: 142mph
Weight: 'from 1,640kg'
MPG: 'up to 57.6'
CO2: 'from 130g/km'
Price: £33,915









Author
Discussion

mrclav

Original Poster:

766 posts

163 months

Wednesday 10th April
quotequote all
It might just be me but even with the interior improvements etc this car just seems a little 'meh'? Were I a young, ambitious exec with a company car choice the Alfa would get the nod.

GTEYE

1,300 posts

150 months

Wednesday 10th April
quotequote all
The current XE, XF and E-Pace are all a bit bland - there’s nothing really that says “Jaguar” - whereas a 3 or 5 Series are unmistakably BMW.

Ructions

3,344 posts

61 months

Wednesday 10th April
quotequote all
GTEYE said:
The current XE, XF and E-Pace are all a bit bland - there’s nothing really that says “Jaguar” - whereas a 3 or 5 Series are unmistakably BMW.
But the 3 or 5 series are also everywhere. I like the XE, prefer it to the bigger XF, like the look of the new interior as well. That god awful disc for selecting gears had to go.

Kawasicki

5,942 posts

175 months

Wednesday 10th April
quotequote all
Good looking car and fun to drive too. To sell big volume in this sector isn’t easy, I wish Jaguar success.

StescoG66

1,039 posts

83 months

Wednesday 10th April
quotequote all
Cracking looking car and having driven the first gen great to drive too. This and Giula should sell by the container load but somehow don’t. A travesty
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Arsecati

149 posts

57 months

Wednesday 10th April
quotequote all
GTEYE said:
The current XE, XF and E-Pace are all a bit bland - there’s nothing really that says “Jaguar” - whereas a 3 or 5 Series are unmistakably BMW.
And to a lot of people, the very fact that it is NOT a BMW, is the best fact of all! I'm not in the market for this class of vehicle, but if I was, I would veer towards either this or a Giulia, purely because they are NOT one of the German trilogy (and this is coming from someone who does actually drive one of the German trifecta!). wink

hammo19

1,932 posts

136 months

Wednesday 10th April
quotequote all
Really like Jaguars but sorry not this one. To me it always looked like a poor attempt to shrink the XF to fit the competition. A totally different shape and approach may have worked better but I suspect Jaguar should have stuck to its larger exec car roots. It’s not sold well because it was never going to appeal to a younger market like the Alfa does.

loudlashadjuster

3,204 posts

124 months

Wednesday 10th April
quotequote all
Kawasicki said:
Good looking car and fun to drive too. To sell big volume in this sector isn’t easy, I wish Jaguar success.
I feel I have to post this on every new Jag article, but in my experience the dealers have a lot to do with this. I love the looks and approach of current Jaguars but where Merc & BMW always make you feel welcome, happy to discuss the cars without any pressure and to make test drives available etc., Jaguar (and Alfa), at least the dealers local to me in South Bucks, always had too much of the old-fashioned 'spiv car dealer' about them.

Slightly cheesy overtone about the whole interaction, felt like I was having to prove myself as a serious buyer (in my 40s, rolled up in recent Merc saloon - what else should I do to appear like their target market?), far too eager to rubbish rivals rather than accentuate the positives of their own offerings (competitors are never mentioned in the German showrooms), and in the case of Jaguar I was refused a test drive until I was prepared to sign on the £42k dotted line! Whisky Tango Foxtrot?

I really wanted to buy a Jaguar but really couldn't faced with that kind of attitude. Here's hoping they get the picture before it's too late.

Johnnytheboy

17,570 posts

126 months

Wednesday 10th April
quotequote all
Article said:
Some have succeeded in muscling in on the Teutonic trio - Alfa Romeo most notably, with the Giulia...
Really? I see plenty of XEs on the road, whereas - apart from my brother's Quattro Formaggio, I've seen about three Giulias.

Leggy

846 posts

162 months

Wednesday 10th April
quotequote all
I’ve not compared lately but the CO2 for the diesel looks really high.
If it’s not low enough company car drivers will run a mile from it due to the high tax they’d have to pay.
Surely a large part of the market for this type of car?

s m

17,263 posts

143 months

Wednesday 10th April
quotequote all
Johnnytheboy said:
Article said:
Some have succeeded in muscling in on the Teutonic trio - Alfa Romeo most notably, with the Giulia...
Really? I see plenty of XEs on the road, whereas - apart from my brother's Quattro Formaggio, I've seen about three Giulias.
Have to agree Johnny - rarely see a new Giulia ( always looking to spot one of the 500bhp ones as well ) up here in the Welsh Marches - lots of XEs though

simonbamg

232 posts

63 months

Wednesday 10th April
quotequote all
Arsecati said:
And to a lot of people, the very fact that it is NOT a BMW, is the best fact of all! I'm not in the market for this class of vehicle, but if I was, I would veer towards either this or a Giulia, purely because they are NOT one of the German trilogy (and this is coming from someone who does actually drive one of the German trifecta!). wink
i'm CONFUSED by your STATEMENT

Harry_523

94 posts

39 months

Wednesday 10th April
quotequote all
Is this what everyone's going to drive after brexit? biglaugh

This sounds like it has all the right ingredients though. Chassis better than the 3 and C, interior better than Alfa's, engines on par with all of them. Go and buy them people!

forester2945

24 posts

97 months

Wednesday 10th April
quotequote all
The really interesting option will be if the new in-line 6 petrol @ 400bhp (currently in the Range Rover Sport) will be offered in the XE, that would make a very interesting match to the chassis and new interior.

(Personal opinion and purely subjective - I find the colour of the leather interior really weird - looks a bit baby-poo brown to my eyes)

GTEYE

1,300 posts

150 months

Wednesday 10th April
quotequote all
Leggy said:
I’ve not compared lately but the CO2 for the diesel looks really high.
If it’s not low enough company car drivers will run a mile from it due to the high tax they’d have to pay.
Surely a large part of the market for this type of car?
You’re right 320d is from 110g/km - 130 for the Jag is a bit off the pace...and for the company market this REALLY matters.

GTEYE

1,300 posts

150 months

Wednesday 10th April
quotequote all
simonbamg said:
Arsecati said:
And to a lot of people, the very fact that it is NOT a BMW, is the best fact of all! I'm not in the market for this class of vehicle, but if I was, I would veer towards either this or a Giulia, purely because they are NOT one of the German trilogy (and this is coming from someone who does actually drive one of the German trifecta!). wink
i'm CONFUSED by your STATEMENT
And it seems 99% of the target market marches past the Jag and Alfa dealers straight to the German brands...

Limpet

3,288 posts

101 months

Wednesday 10th April
quotequote all
Great. Now get Jaguar to sort the dealers out. As someone above said, I've never felt welcome in a Jaguar dealership. I don't expect to be fawned over and have my boots polished, but I do expect to be given the time of day, and treated like a prospective customer. I also don't expect the alternative cars I am considering to be rubbished, to for it to be implied that I'm stupid for even looking at them. It's very much "buy a car, or Foxtrot Oscar".

Based on the Jaguar owners I do know (who by, and large are a pretty satisfied bunch), the after sales sucks as well. Failing to address a squeaking steering column on a year old XF three times, and then on the fourth, coating the underside of the dash and pedals in spray grease, is one example.

Mr_Sukebe

228 posts

148 months

Wednesday 10th April
quotequote all
Not mentioned in the article, but probably more pertinent is whether Jag have solved the electrical gremlins?
Pretty much every time I read forum comments about XEs (and for that matter, similar aged XF and Land Rovers), the threads are often awash with horror stories of poor electrics.

It's certainly enough to put me off, despite me thinking that the car is stunning looking.

RSchneider

82 posts

104 months

Wednesday 10th April
quotequote all
Always wanted to like the XE (and XF). Good to hear that the interior materials have been improved. Still it is an uncomfortable mess ergonomically (door shape, window sill shape, placement of air vent, hard plastic on central console where the knee rests , etc). Even if one overlooks that for the sake of style, the engines and drive train remain the weakest point. Partially because these cars are heavy, but also because the inline-4 engines (at least the ones I drove) where all uninspiring, weak and loud. At least not too thirsty. And Jaguar's calibration of the all-wheel drive is off, just off. Unfortunately I never drove an XE or XF with RWD only. And the company made a big mistake cancelling the V6 petrols, effectively taking themselves out of the premium segment. Always want to like Jaguar but ... :-(

Nerfbat

66 posts

66 months

Wednesday 10th April
quotequote all
I like Jags, and have had two XF's. I would have had a third, but unfortunately they just can't seem to offer competitive deals.

I ended up buying a 530D instead of a new XF as it turned out to be massively cheaper than the equivalent Jag with all the incentives that BMW offer, and I'm afraid that unless Jaguar can somehow match the deals that competitors offer they'll be struggling .