by Sebastian Cenizo
If you're going to build a small luxury sedan, you'd better make it a damn good one. This is a segment filled with phenomenal vehicles like the BMW 3 Series, Alfa Romeo Giulia, and Genesis G70. When the Jaguar XE came out, it was an impressive machine. However, the rest of the world has moved on, and now the Jaguar has to be an innovative and tech-friendly car with plenty of luxury and style. For 2020, one engine is available in two states of tune. The 2.0-liter turbo four-pot equipped to the base model sends 247 horsepower and 269 lb-ft through an eight-speed automatic to the rear wheels. All-wheel-drive is an option on the base version, but the top R-Dynamic trim gets it as standard, along with a hike in output to 296 hp and 295 lb-ft. But with no V6 and aging tech, the XE is rapidly falling behind newer, more accomplished rivals.
The XE has been comprehensively updated for the 2020 model year, with new headlights and taillights along with revised bumper designs and a new front grille. In addition, the manual gearbox has been killed off and so have the V6 and diesel engine options. To help make up for this, more standard features have been added. These include leather upholstery, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The options list has also been updated, adding a dual-screen infotainment system to the available features, along with wireless charging and a digital rearview mirror.
The XE falls in line with the new design language interpretations of the modern Jaguar, now featuring slimmer LED headlights and narrower taillights. The subtle fender grille returns too, along with dual-exit exhaust pipes. 18-inch wheels are standard across the range with 19s optional, and all models are also treated to a panoramic sunroof. The R-Dynamic trim gets treated to a sportier body kit with more aggressive side skirts, with the front grille also getting a Satin Chrome surround, and 20-inch wheels can be specced on this model.
The Jaguar XE is pretty much what you'd expect in terms of sizing and dimensions, with a length below 200 inches and width of just more than 80 including the mirrors. From bumper to bumper, the XE measures 184.2 inches with a wheelbase of 111.6 and the width across the body is 77.4 inches excluding the mirrors. Height for the base rear-wheel-drive model is 55.7 inches, while the all-wheel-drive variants are 56.1 inches tall. Curb weight varies depending on spec and drivetrain, with the base model starting at 3,385 lbs and the all-wheel-drive variant tipping the scales at 3,500 lbs. The top-spec R-Dynamic AWD model weighs in at 3,560 lbs.
As standard, you can have Fuji White or Narvik Black at no charge. Caldera Red costs $300 extra, or you can opt for one of the metallic options at $610. These include Santorini Black, Indus Silver, Caesium Blue, Portofino Blue, Eiger Grey, Firenze Red, and Yulong White. Each model also gets access to premium metallic options of Carpathian Grey and Silicon Silver at $1,325 each.
The Jaguar XE is no longer available with a diesel engine. While that is a problem for those who seek economy, Jag has also killed the dreams of gearheads with the axing of the V6 engine too. To rub salt into the wound, no 2020 Jaguar model comes with a manual gearbox. No, for 2020, you get a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot and an eight-speed auto. In the base mode, this produces 247 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque, and whether you opt for the optional all-wheel-drive system or stick with the standard rear-wheel-drive setup, 0-60 mph is still claimed to be 6.2 seconds.
The other option is the R-Dynamic model, a trim that comes exclusively with all-wheel-drive and features an increase in output to 296 hp and 295 lb-ft. However, thanks to a lack of launch control and increased weight, claimed 0-60 times are only 5.4 seconds. Interestingly, real-world testing has shown that the base model and this top trim are actually very similar, so the R-Dynamic comes across as a bit of a waste here. Whichever trim you opt for, top speed is limited to 155 mph.
The base model produces 247 hp and 269 lb-ft from its 2.0-liter turbo four-banger. With no manual transmission, you only have an eight-speed automatic with paddle-shifters at your disposal. Although the engine produces average outputs that neither raises the hair on your neck nor puts you to sleep, the gearbox is at least excellent, hanging onto gears past its quoted redline and only changing up at 6,500 rpm. The engine itself is, as mentioned, not offensive, but it is certainly helped by that transmission, with the auto helping fill the gaps in power and making the car feel a little quicker than it is. However, we can't help but lament the loss of the V6, as the 2.0-liter turbo in the base model is notably flat and devoid of character, never really inspiring spirited driving.
The R-Dynamic S offers a little more oomph from the same 2.0-liter turbo, with 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. However, its increased mass almost completely cancels out the power advantage. Since it comes with all-wheel-drive as standard, acceleration from the line is only a little better, but the overall experience is surprisingly a bit more enjoyable, with a more attractive exhaust note and a generally improved eagerness to overtake.
While rivals like the BMW 3 Series and Alfa Romeo Guilia exist, the current chassis setup on the Jaguar XE is simply not the best. However, that's not to say that the Jaguar is bad - it's just not quite as dynamic as those German and Italian powerhouses. The electric steering setup returns remarkable levels of feedback, something that even BMW has failed to consistently get right. The standard suspension setup is also adept at absorbing bumps and divots in the road while still keeping body roll to an absolute minimum. There is also an adaptive suspension setup available as part of a handling package, but the stock suspension tuning is absolutely brilliant. Even with all-wheel-drive, the XE resists the urge to nose-dive into understeer and handles impressively. Braking is also confidence-inspiring and easy to modulate. If you do opt for the aforementioned Dynamic Handling Pack, the front discs are increased to 13.7-inch rotors (standard on the R-Dynamic trim), thus further enhancing your stopping power. This package also allows you to play around with the throttle response, shift points, suspension, and steering setup. The news isn't all good, however, as tire noise intrudes on cabin serenity on some roads. The all-wheel-drive models are also a fraction less agile than they could be.
While we may lament the economy lost by culling the now-bygone diesel engines, the 2.0-liter turbo gas engine we're left with isn't too unkind to polar bears either. Naturally, the most offensive trim is the heaviest - the AWD R-Dynamic. This model returns 22/30/25 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. The all-wheel-drive base model is notably better, scoring 24/34/28 mpg on the same cycles. Surprisingly, the base model that is some 115 pounds lighter is barely any more frugal, improving only on the city score with 1 mpg more. All models get a 16.6-gallon gas tank, allowing the most economical models to return an estimated mixed range of around 465 miles between fillups.
2020's Jaguar XE has an interior that is vastly improved from that of older models. Gone are the masses of hard plastics and in their place are much-improved soft-touch materials. The interior is still not class-leading, nor is it even close, but far better than it used to be. A dual-screen infotainment system is also now available, and heated front seats are also on the options list. However, rear space is at a premium, and the front seats are the only ones taller individuals should attempt to use. To help make up for its shortcomings, a head-up display and a 12.3-inch digital driver display are available.
The Jaguar XE is a five-seater, as most cars in this segment are, but the rear of the cabin is very cramped for taller individuals. If your body type is of notable girth, you won't want more than one companion joining you back there either. In the front, the power-adjustable 12-way seats are a little better, and legroom and headroom are far more accommodating. Getting in and out of the car is also not too bad, and large windows aid decent visibility all round. While the German and Italian rivals in the segment offer a near-perfect driving position, this Brit is not far off, although some may wish for a slightly better thought-out cabin design, as door handles and window switches are awkwardly placed.
All new Jaguar XE models now come with leather upholstery as standard, with the top-trim getting perforated leather and contrasting stitching as a bonus. Ebony, Ecru, and Light Oyster are the leather colors you can have at no cost on the base S model, with Windsor leather available at $2,150. The R-Dynamic model drops the Ecru color in favor of a stunning Mars Red, and Siena Tan is also available. Again, Windsor leather can be specced in all available colors for the same price. Headlining can be had in either Light Oyster or, for $275, Ebony Morzine. The dash and door trims come in Gloss Black as standard, or you can have Meshed Aluminum or Monogram Aluminum for $200. Also available are various wood veneers for $400 or gloss carbon fiber for $1,300.
With an average-sized trunk measuring 14.5 cubic feet in volume, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the Jaguar XE is a relatively practical vehicle. Yet, despite some competitors having smaller trunks, the XE's cargo area is one of the worst in its segment, with a small, awkward opening and an odd shape that is not conducive to fitting luggage or other larger items. Trying to fit two large suitcases in the trunk of the Jag is something to avoid if you have any valuables or fragile items in the bags.
In the cabin, the door pockets are shallow but long, and the center console, in which the cupholders reside, is at least fairly large. Under the center armrest is another useful bin, while the average glovebox can hold the owner's manual and a couple of other small items.
Every XE comes with LED headlights and heated mirrors, as well as 12-way power-adjustable front seats that are trimmed in leather. Auto high beams and rain-sensing wipers are also included, as is lane-keep assist, a digital rearview mirror, ambient lighting, and parking sensors. You also get dual-zone climate control, hill start assist, cruise control, a drowsy driver monitor, and a panoramic sunroof. Heated and ventilated 16-way power front seats are available, as are options like a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, a heated steering wheel, a 12.3-inch interactive driver display, and wireless charging. A 360-degree parking camera and a parking assistant can also be had, as well as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, keyless entry, a power trunk lid, and adaptive dampers. Heated rear seats are also available.
The XE's standard infotainment system is comprised of a 10.2-inch touchscreen, with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and HD Radio. This is connected to a six-speaker sound system as standard. Optionally available is a secondary 5.5-inch screen that takes care of features like the climate control system, freeing up more room for things like your navigation maps. SiriusXM can be added for $300. Also available are a choice of two Meridian audio upgrades, the first of which adds 10 speakers and the second of which features 16 speakers. Each Meridian system also comes with a subwoofer. Sadly, despite the attractive graphics, Jaguar's infotainment systems continue to be buggy and laggy, and this detracts from the experience of enjoying the car.
Thus far, the Jaguar XE has fortunately been free of recalls since 2018, when an early February recall found a fuel leak in the engine bay, while another late in October of 2017 was issued for a faulty instrument cluster that would go blank.
In terms of the warranty, Jaguar offers five years or 60,000 miles of complimentary scheduled maintenance, limited coverage, and powertrain coverage.
Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA has tested the Jaguar XE to determine its safety rating, but with an impressive number of standard and available features, the small luxury sedan should perform well.
Standard safety features on the Jaguar XE include the obligatory rearview camera, with this Jaguar featuring the display in the rearview mirror. It also features lane-keep assist, parking sensors, auto high beams, hill start assist, a drowsy driver warning, and a number of airbags. These include frontal, side-impact, and rear head airbags.
Optionally available are a head-up display, a parking assistant, a surround-view camera, adaptive cruise control with traffic sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and forward-collision alert with high-speed emergency braking.
The Jaguar XE offers a very different take on the small luxury sedan, with unique styling and an interesting interior. The 2.0-liter turbo engine fitted to the car is a good performer, and the eight-speed automatic that is the only transmission option is a good companion for it. However, the interior is still not up to scratch when compared to its rivals, with most materials still not truly fitting the luxury bill. It has its strengths, with good handling and a decent ride, but the small details that matter are simply not good enough. The trunk is awkwardly shaped and inconvenient to use, and features like ventilated front seats, adaptive headlights, and tri-zone climate control are missing from the car. You also have to pay extra for the useful options as part of packages, some of which require even more spending. In addition, the infotainment system is as quick and sharp as a member of The Rolling Stones after a heavy weekend. Stick with the BMW 3 Series or try out the Alfa Guilia. The British have got this car all wrong.
Pricing on the XE, or P250, starts at $39,900, with the available all-wheel-drive system adding $2,000 to that price. This excludes a $995 destination charge. The R-Dynamic trim, also known as the P300, is only available with all-wheel-drive and starts at a base price of $46,295 before fees and taxes. Fully loaded with all available features, you can get the XE to over $68,000.
The Jaguar XE comes in two trims for 2020: Base and R-Dynamic.
The base model is standard with rear-wheel-drive, with an all-wheel-drive system available as an option. A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot sends 247 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, with no manual transmission available. LED headlights, parking sensors, 12-way power-adjustable front seats, parking sensors, and dual-zone climate control are standard. A 10.2-inch InControl Touch Pro infotainment system features a six-speaker sound system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and navigation. The interior is dressed in leather upholstery, and the car itself rides on 18-inch alloy wheels.
The R-Dynamic model features a unique body kit with more aggressive side skirts, bumpers, and wheels. While each model has the option of 19-inch wheels, the R-Dynamic can be fitted with 20s. This model also produces more power, with 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque and all-wheel-drive is the only drivetrain option on this trim. It also gets a special steering wheel and perforated leather upholstery with contrast stitching. Satin Chrome gearshift paddles are also included, as are sport seats and a special Meshed Aluminum trim detail on the doors, center console, and more. In addition, you get 13.7-inch brake disc rotors in front and various badges.
A number of additional packages and standalone options are available for the 2020 Jaguar XE. One of the easiest boxes to tick is for SiriusXM satellite radio, which costs $300. That said, this should probably have been thrown in for free. The Technology Pack costs $1,950 and adds a secondary 5.5-inch touchscreen below the main infotainment screen. This controls climate settings and a few other basic car functions. The package also adds wireless charging, a 12.3-inch configurable driver info display, and a head-up display. The Drive Pack costs $1,700 and adds adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and high-speed emergency braking. However, you have to add approach lights to the mirrors, thus bringing the real cost of this package to $2,060.
If your heart is set on this boorish British sedan, we'd opt for the base model. It doesn't make as much power as the top trim and it is equipped with rear-wheel-drive as standard, but adding weight to the XE does not benefit it. In addition, the more powerful engine makes little difference to acceleration, and with a lighter body and rear-wheel propulsion, handling will be more fun. We would, however, consider adding the Park Pack. This requires adding wireless charging, a head-up display, pro navigation, a 12.3-inch digital driver display, and the dual-screen infotainment system, but also gifts you a surround-view camera and automatic parking. With these additions, the base XE is still less than $45,000.
If you absolutely must have a British sedan with luxury aspirations, the XF is a much roomier and easier to live with companion. In addition to the option of a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 with 380 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque, the XF also boasts a 17.8 cubic-foot trunk and a far more comfortable interior with more space and a slightly more premium feel. It also has an even better ride and retains the option of a diesel engine if you seek maximum fuel economy. However, like the XE, its quality is not as great as that of German rivals and the fastest V6 supercharged model is not as quick as it should be. Overall, each of the Jaguar products has its own highs and lows, but we'd opt to minimize expense in this case and stick with the cheaper, more nimble, XE.
The Audi A4 has a base price that is over $2,000 lower than that of the entry-level Jag XE. However, its 2.0-liter turbo four-pot produces just 188 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. It's also a front-wheel-drive car in base form, but this helps it have a larger trunk that is 0.9 cubic feet more voluminous than that of the Jag. Most importantly, however, the Audi feels far more solid and has a genuinely upscale interior. The infotainment system in the Audi is also far more responsive and offers standard satellite radio, a WiFi hotspot, and the option of an excellent Bang & Olufsen sound system - all while providing XE-rivaling real-world acceleration despite lower engine outputs. In addition, the A4 range as a whole has a much more fun chassis and the engine feels a lot more powerful than its rating suggests. Overall, the Audi A4 is simply a better car, and we'd much rather live with it every day than the Jaguar.