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Jaguar boosts XE’s appeal for today’s buyer

S.Muralidhar | Updated on December 05, 2019

More tech and features in the cabin and a facelifted exterior mean the entry sedan is now better equipped to take on the German trio

The Jaguar XE allowed the British brand to foray into the entry luxury sedan segment. But its sales numbers weren’t anything worth writing home about. Taking on entrenched competitors from the stables of the German three luxury car makers wasn’t easy.

And while the XE inherently had the necessary muscle to deliver the kind of performance that makes it equally convincing, the problem was that the current model didn’t feel special enough. What it missed out on was more features and new tech to wean buyers away from the competition.

So, for the 2020 model Jaguar has gone ahead and filled those gaps. It has dealt with the issue by loading the XE with new features and some updated tech to arrive at a more modern and exciting new package.

But since the XE wasn’t lacking in potential “under-the-bonnet”, the ‘doctor’ apparently hadn’t ordered any changes to the powertrain or the mechanicals of the car.

What you see in these pictures is the updated, refreshed 2020 XE, which in addition to a rash of new additions inside, also gets some exterior design changes that are meant to make it look more stylised, sporty and aggressive.

Refreshed exterior

The previous XE’s design was classic Jaguar with Ian Callum written all over and that front referring back to the other Jag models of the present and past. But it was missing some of the design character that buyers of today, especially in the emerging new car markets, seem to expect. Most of the changes to the exterior are subtle and largely revolve around the front and rear fenders. The XE now looks beefier, though the only engines on offer are smaller 4-cylinder Ingeniums. The V6 is not offered any more with this model; even in other markets worldwide.

At the front of the 2020 XE, the fender has been redesigned with new larger air scoops on either side. The tighter fender design also leads to slimmer headlamps and the brand trademark J-Blade LED DRLs within. The front now looks more like the XF, thanks also to the slightly wider bonnet grille. At the rear too, the tail-lamps have become slimmer with an updated LED signature graphic. The turn/ directional indicators are now animated. The rear fender also gets some changes to keep it a tight unit and the chrome tailpipes have been separated. The exterior design changes make the XE look more squat and planted. The India-spec models get 17-inch rims, though the car is offered with 21-inch rims in other markets.

More tech inside

The cabin of the new XE gets a more comprehensive list of additions to make it more modern and tech-laden; perfect for geeky young buyers. The layered dashboard with its curved top design wrapping around the entire cabin and extending into the door panels was a design feature I really liked and it is good see that the dash been retained as is. The facelift brings more soft-touch panels and newer veneers. The door panels have also been revised with fresh material and sport larger storage spaces for bottles. The two big changes to the cabin that really amp up the new XE’s interior are both driver focused features. The new steering wheel with touch pads has been borrowed from the I-PACE, and it brings with it tactile touch controls and ‘hidden-until-lit’ graphics. The pre-facelift model’s rotary drive selector knob that used to rise from the centre console after starting the engine is gone and in its place is the conventional short stick style gear selector that has been borrowed from the F-Type. Manual gear selection using the stick and/ or the steering mounted paddles should be possible now.

Also new to the cabin of the XE is the 10-inch infotainment system with smartphone connectivity options. A lot of other additions like wireless charging, lane-keeping assist, smart settings for driver positions, a high-def digital instrument cluster, park assist, an air quality sensor etc will be available in the India-spec models. WiFi connectivity and related services like real-time traffic info will also be part of the package. The XE is now even more driver focused than before. So, you may not be able to enjoy the full suite of new features if you are mostly going to be driven around by a chauffeur.

Same powertrains

The two-litre Ingenium engines that were offered with the earlier model have been retained for the new XE and also in the same state of tune. With engine size becoming less relevant for their vehicles, car makers are using power rating for identifying variant nomenclature. So, the diesel is badged D180 and the petrol gets the P250 tag based on peak outputs of the respective engines. Both the engines are paired with a 8-speed automatic gearbox. The P250’s 1,997cc petrol engine delivers 248hp of peak power and 365Nm of torque. The D180’s 1,999cc diesel engine generates 178hp of power and 430Nm of torque. Powering the rear wheels, the performance remains unchanged with both engines. Both of them are refined mills offering strong, progressive acceleration and decent power-to-weight ratio.

My test mule was the P250 and I was driving around the relatively narrow roads in the vicinity of Gaydon and Stratford-upon-Avon in the UK. The handling and ride quality remains unchanged and will be so for the India-spec variants too. Nice planted feel and a firm but not rigid suspension set-up helps in dynamic handling and an unruffled ride. The XE’s aluminium architecture gives it a lot of inherent strength.

Bottom Line

With this facelift, the Jaguar has turned on the heat. The XE delivers a more luxurious cabin — a key metric for the brand‘s customers. There is more to play around with in the cabin and there is more value being delivered by both the trim variants — S and SE. Ex-showroom prices are marginally lower for the new XE’s S and SE variants (prestige and portfolio equivalent) and start at ₹44.98 lakh.

Published on December 05, 2019

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