2020 Jaguar XE First Drive Review
The Jaguar XE receives a revamp for the 2020 model year, so can it compete against the likes of the BMW 3 series, Mercedes-Benz C class and the Audi A4?
The curtains are up. The Jaguar XE has received a mid-cycle update and with that Jaguar aims to take on the fabled German trio. Even though the sedan had not been updated since its Indian debut, it built its own fanbase. Eventually, however, it was pushed down the ranks as its competitors, the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Audi A4, that kept getting their yearly updates. But now that the baby Jag has got a much-needed facelift and added tech, it has a chance to revive the marquee, for what it's worth.
Now, the 2020 XE that we drove has come in a newly-christened P250 guise and it finally feels like a sports sedan. While we gave you a full rundown of the XE's 2020 version in terms of its changes, let's see what we couldn't do then. Drive.
In the car and on the go
Even though the core architecture has remained the same, the interior is where most of the changes are and understandably so, considering it was the weakest until this lovely XE. The first thing I fell in love with as soon as I stepped into the car was the big, chunky, three spoke flat-bottom steering wheel (the same one as on the I-Pace) with backlit controls and the brushed aluminium elements on the spokes. The beefy steering- mounted shift paddles and the metal tips on the indicator stalks added to the appeal and oh, the return of the paddle shifters is so pleasing! Shut the door and it responds with a quality ‘Thud.’ The 12.3-inch screen fills the driver's gauge cluster and sports some of the prettiest digital gauges as well. The comfortable driver's seat sits at a perfect height with the window pane and the dashboard line, tucking you into the car and giving you a good vision of the surroundings.
Once in the driver's seat, you’re welcomed into the refreshed cabin thanks to the luxurious combination of the new texture, trim, colour and even quality of materials used all over. The centre console has the new 10-inch Touch Pro infotainment system, the old-school climate control dials and the toggle switch that lets you select from different drive modes without taking your eyes off the road. Gone is Jag's rotary shifter, and in comes the F-Type-esque ‘SportShift’ pistol-like gear knob and it is a good thing. All these elements add to a complete cabin that feels so cozy and cocoon-y, yet the Jag does not let that sporty vibe take a back seat even after comparing it with the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The Jaguar XE has ‘Sporty’ written all over it, especially with the yatch line that runs through the cabin and the black colour scheme. Everything is put together so well you can't wait to click that seat belt in and press that engine start / stop button to get straight to business.
And once you do that, the engine says ‘Hey’ with a nice sporty growl, the turbo-four is supremely good, especially when you feel the punchy, linear throttle response followed by so much torque that it gives the entry-level XE a new life at low RPMs. However, put it in the Eco mode and the throttle response obviously slows down to seek efficiency. Then there is the Dynamic mode that unfurls those 247 horses and 365Nm of torque which is quickly transmitted to the final drive by the 8-speed gearbox. You are tempted to accelerate even more with the chunky new paddle shifts behind the steering wheel though. Put her into a corner and it will sprint through it, thanks to how composed the link between the turbocharged engine and the gearbox feels, as does the suspension, which teams up to deliver a smooth and direct path throughout the corner. But when it comes to the steering, it is neutral, missing some crucial feedback yet it does not miss on the precision, especially on the chicanes. It could’ve been a bit more communicative. Of course, this is a boon for those who like lighter controls, someone who seeks à la mode, more premium yet comfortable, more than a canyon-carver. But it does not mean the drive isn’t sporty. It is. It feels tight and firm, around the corners, but not uncomfortable, especially with the chassis that feels so predictable. Hence, calling it a well-balanced car would not be incorrect, as it strikes the right chord between its dynamic capability and daily comfort.
Let’s not forget, the XE has got this update after a long time (considering how frequent its German rivals have received updates) So, first of all, the Ingenium engine suits the XE really well, along with how it has held its wonderful driveability, comfort and road-holding capability together, making it a car that is not only as engaging (hence sporty) as the BMW 3 series, but is as comfortable as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class as well, as far as the results of this mid-cycle freshening is concerned. Jag has played the rubber band effect with the new XE. They kept pulling it back for the much-needed updates for these many years, but once they did, they shot it far ahead of its German rivals. And considering what it takes to just be competitive in this class, the XE seems to have started on just about the right note after a while. Why? The bang for your buck is the XE’s strong point, besides the fact that it packs the best of the German world, I think that’s why the angry look on the facia of the Jaguar XE, isn’t it Jaguar?