Jaguar XE Review: Up-to-date electronics finally round out the smallest Jag

Cosmetics and a tech update make this a desirable sedan, but don’t try carpooling in it.


The Jaguar XE is probably the car I’ve driven most from the stables of the Indo-Brit manufacturer, starting with the old petrol motor, on to the newer diesel and finally this — the new P250 armed with a turbo-petrol 2.0-litre motor for 2020.

The 2000cc engine size continues to be wildly popular for petrol and diesel motors, and we expect to continue seeing more of them now that the date for BS6 norms to come into effect is just around the corner. For 2020, the updated XE comes with petrol as well as a diesel engine options.

 Jaguar XE Review: Up-to-date electronics finally round out the smallest Jag

Tech updates (finally)

My first experience with the old XE was unusual, especially coming from a background in tech reporting. Back then, the infotainment system was one only the designers could love (if even them). Jaguar insisted on something called “InControl apps” to extend the smartphone integration of the car, and the Apple CarPlay functionality was janky and stopped working after the first connection. It felt tremendously incongruent for a luxury car, so much so that they removed smartphone integration for a while. Thankfully, Jaguar has done a complete about-face in this regard, with the new infotainment system — dubbed “Touch Pro”. It’s based around a 10” touchscreen that’s bright and fluid, and did not put a foot wrong in our days of driving the XE.

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The 10” Touch Pro system is smartphone friendly and responsive, finally.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is back with the Touch Pro system, and works perfectly. Thanks to recent updates to Siri, using voice to control basic smartphone integration is finally a reality, and worked well using the car’s internal microphones. The new XE also provides wireless charging, though not wireless CarPlay. We understand that this will appear in future JLR vehicles soon. For 2020, onboard navigation, as well as a wifi hotspot, are available, though we didn’t have a chance to test these. Does anyone use on-board wifi in cars? Why would anyone, I wonder?

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Driver binnacle is also all screen

Rounding out the tech additions, there’s now a driver attention monitor to help drowsy drivers, as well as a lane departure warning, which vibrates the steering wheel and shows an indication on the driver’s screen that the car is straying. I tried this, and it worked a bit like going over those white rumble strips. It’s enough to alert a distracted driver, but not as comprehensive as lane-keeping cruise control as in some other cars.

Form before function

I tend to make hipster choices, and the Jaguar XE immediately appealed to me. It’s fairly recent — having come out in 2014 — quite sporty, looks fabulous and has enough quirks to keep the pedestrian luxury buyer away. The P250 model that we drove had the new “Black Exterior Pack” applied which provides a dark chrome grille and blingy bits. It’s a bit boy-racer, but looked good on the car while remaining on this side of accessories-market chic. A standard-sized sunroof is available and — for this segment  — practical, tall tyres. Typically, we’ll see low-profile tyres on luxury vehicles to amp-up the “sporty” vibe, but this typically results in poor ride quality. Not so with the new XE. With tall, 255/55-R17 tyres on satin dark-grey rims, ride quality is very good on broken urban roads, and supply when the surface gets better. However, despite the blacked-out look of the model we tested, the wheels do look a bit unfortunate on this otherwise hot-looking car. I suppose one can’t have it all.

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A tall tyre profile afford a supple ride

Continuing the theme of being unable to have it all, you also can’t have very much space in the Jaguar XE. This is surprising, considering it is in the same ballpark as all its peers in terms of overall volume. It’s quite compact on the inside. The rear seat has very little kneeroom for normal-sized passengers; you’ll get more space in some hatchbacks. Even up front, it is possible to raise the seat so that tall drivers will hit their heads on the roof. However, in the interest of science and investigative reporting, I decided to surprise some random carpoolers with a ride in the Jag. Providentially, only one showed up, taking the front seat, where he was quite comfortable. He was a finance guy though, so his assessment of value was naturally pessimistic. Let’s just give it a pass.

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Flat loading bay makes the boot practical

On the go

With 245hp and 365Nm on tap, the Jaguar XE is no slouch, and stops just short of being exhilarating. That said, drive control modes are available, ranging between Snow, Eco, Comfort and Dynamic. There’s an 8-speed automatic transmission, and it feels a bit old-school compared to recent peers. In comfort mode, it tends to be a little slow to react, while in Dynamic mode with the transmission in ‘Sport’, the entire experience feels taut but abrupt. Interestingly, Jaguar has eschewed their traditional (and very convenient) dial to change gears, opting for a more traditional stick. The previous dial rising out of the console was nice and dramatic.

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The Jaguar XE’s console is clean and contemporary, and in line with its Range Rover cousins

The new petrol motor is quite quiet, but sounds lively in Dynamic mode. Handling, just like previous XE models, remains good, and I have no doubt the diesel, with its extra torque, will break traction whenever you want it to. With the new tyres, ride quality is balanced, and this is a nice car to drive fast, without making a stop at a physiotherapist.

Niggles

Overall, I found little to complain about in the 2020 Jaguar XE, with the tech problems worked out. There are a couple of issues remaining, however. The XE allows for different driver “profiles” that can be tied either to the key, or a paired mobile phone. I chose to tie my new profile to the key, and without warning, the car switched to a previous driver’s profile from the menu. I lost my carefully-adjusted seating position. The profiles feature is nice, extending to things like AC controls, but I feel like it could have been more intuitively implemented. After all, we’ve had multi-user operating systems on computers for decades.

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AC controls like we’ve seen in Range Rovers before

The air conditioning also seemed to be slow to react, and did not feel like it achieved the set temperature in any reasonable span of time. I had to routinely set it to a lower temperature setting to be comfortable, or blast it on max for a while before reducing it. The AC still feels more Brit than Indo in this iteration.

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Indicators now sweep ala Audi

At Rs 46.33 lac ex-showroom, the Jaguar XE P250 SE is on the upper end of it’s price segment, bested only by the new BMW 330i in terms of price and outright engine horsepower. It’s a nice refresh, now using up-to-date electronics and those popular animated turn indicators to keep it contemporary. It will appear to those who prefer to stand out from the crowd, as well as possibly leaving extra passengers standing outside the car. All-out performance junkies would be better served by the BMW, while those after prestige and comfort might like the Mercedes better. The A4 is a bit long in the tooth to run with these cats for now.

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