While it may look similar, the changes to the 2019 Jaguar XE have added value and refinement, along with a far simpler range. But can it keep up with the new competition in this segment?
If you had walked into a Jaguar dealership last year to buy a Jaguar XE, you most likely would have walked out totally perplexed and confused.
That's because there were 15 models on sale across five engines and four trim levels – enough to send potential buyers into an Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz dealership before even setting foot in a car.
Realising this, Jaguar has adopted a far simpler strategy in Australia with the 2019 Jaguar XE by simply offering one engine and two trim levels, also using this opportunity to pare back the number of option packages to just five.
Kicking off from $65,570 (plus on-road costs) with the XE SE, the entire Jaguar XE range will come with a single engine variant, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged '300PS' engine that produces 221kW of power and 400Nm of torque mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Official combined fuel consumption comes in at 6.7 litres of fuel per 100km with a minimum 95RON fuel rating required.
One step up lands you at the top-specification XE HSE, which is priced from $71,490 (plus on-road costs). Both vehicles will also come standard with the Jaguar R-Dynamic package that adds an aggressive styling edge to Jaguar's luxury saloon.
Standard equipment in XE SE trim includes 18-inch alloy wheels, leather-clad seats with electric adjustment up front, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, lane-keeping assistance, DAB+ digital radio, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support.
HSE R-Dynamic adds 19-inch rims, the InControl Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, Meridian sound system, high-speed autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, 18-way electronically adjustable front seats with memory settings on the driver's side, and electric steering column adjustment.
Visually, the XE hasn't changed a great deal, but the changes that have been made to this facelift really focus on attracting more aggression and style from the package. Styling inspiration was drawn from the F-Type to create slimmer full-LED headlights, along with a new LED theme on the tail-lights.
The nip and tuck at the front was followed by a similar minor design change at the rear, with an integrated diffuser designed to show off the tailpipes a little more. Also, take note of that aerial on the roof – more on that in a moment.
The interior is where the bulk of the changes have taken place. The XE picks up a similar technology set-up to the I-Pace with a 10.0-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard atop the dashboard, and the option of a secondary screen beneath the infotainment system for climate controls. The dashboard features a soft-touch leather-esque material, while ahead of the driver is a 12.3-inch screen with critical vehicle functions.
It feels like a premium interior, and while there isn't a great deal of leg room in the second row, the first row feels spacious and airy. The addition of a simplified climate-control cluster and the introduction of the steering wheel from the I-Pace, which integrates buttons that illuminate when in use as opposed to all the time, means the value proposition quickly adds up.
That aerial pod mounted to the roof has a dual purpose, doubling as the housing for the optional ClearSight rear-vision mirror. The mirror can be used both as a regular mirror or a high-resolution rearward-facing camera. It works incredibly well and is by far the best one we've sampled to date, offering excellent clarity and visibility during all light conditions.
While you can still order optional items individually, Jaguar has bundled most of the features into packages to make the process a little easier. These include the Dynamic Handling Pack ($2090), which adds improved brakes with coloured calipers, a boot lid spoiler, and an adaptive dynamics system.
The Cold Climate Pack ($1010) adds headlight washers, a heated windscreen, and a heated steering wheel to the car. Ticking the Technology Pack ($2160 SE, $1710 HSE) adds a head-up display, solar windscreen, digital instrumentation display, wireless smartphone charging, and a rear-view camera in place of the interior mirror. It also includes the Touch Pro Duo infotainment unit on SE models.
If you want hands-free boot operation, keyless entry, and more power sockets you'll have to opt for the Convenience Pack ($1050 SE, $750 HSE). Lastly, the Premium Interior Upgrade Pack ($1010) includes illuminated sill plates, metal-covered pedals, and configurable ambient lighting.
Jaguar has really nailed the ride and handling balance with the XE. While the mechanical changes have been limited to just minor tweaks, we found the ride to be excellent even on the 19-inch alloy wheels fitted to our test car.
Up front there is a double-wishbone set-up, while the rear rides on an integral link and, in the case of our test vehicle, adaptive dampers that further improve the ride with the ability to switch between comfort and dynamic ride settings.
The roads on our drive route were incredibly smooth, so we'll have to wait until we get back to Australia to properly assess the ride, but based on our first impressions, Jaguar has nailed the balance between comfort and sport modes.
As you tip the car into a corner, the 1523kg body remains flat and the front end bites down as you throttle out. This smooth ride is matched to some of the most direct and communicative steering we've come across for a while. The steering calibration offers precise feedback through the wheel and makes placing the car on the road easy as the pace picks up.
Unfortunately, we only had access to the P300 all-wheel drive (Australia will only get the P300 rear-wheel drive), but based on our first impressions, it'll be a hard task for Audi, Mercedes-Benz or BMW to match the XE for handling dynamics in this price bracket.
The non-all-wheel-drive version is lighter and as a result will feel quicker. The 265mm-wide tyres on the rear offer ample traction for the four-cylinder XE to power out of corners with ease, while the brakes offer excellent communication through the pedal.
It may sound like an overly glowing assessment of the XE, but it really surprised us as an all-round package on these smooth French roads. It's genuinely difficult to come up with any constructive criticism that's worthy of mention.
Jaguar offers the XE with a three-year, 100,000km warranty with service intervals that occur every two years. Servicing can be pre-purchased for $1500, which provides coverage for five years or 130,000km.
The revised Jaguar XE improves upon what is already an impressive package. It delivers performance and handling, but most importantly it now feels like a luxurious sedan that fits the Jaguar premium brief. If you had previously discounted the XE because of range complexity, we'd recommend giving it another crack. It's sure to impress.