When I typically see someone driving a luxury sedan, I usually smile and nod in approval. These people know they are onto something, and they know the rest of the world is not. You can almost make out a smirk on their faces as they pass by dozens of luxury SUVs.
Midsize luxury sedans stand out, and the reason for that is sad. People simply just aren’t buying them in numbers like they used to. Sedans, especially luxury sedans, like the Alfa Romeo Guilia, Volvo S60, BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 have a sense of style, comfort, class, and more often than not, more practicality than SUVs.
Some manufacturers still have faith in the humble sedan. Jaguar is one of them, with three sedans in its range: the XJ, XF, and the 2020 Jaguar XE, the most affordable in the line-up. And good news, choosing an XE has now become simpler, as Jaguar has moved from 14 specifications to just two: R-Dynamic P300 SE and R-Dynamic P300 HSE, boasting the same 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The XE R-Dynamic HSE starts from $71,940 before on-road costs, and over the $65,670 SE it gets 19-inch wheels, electrically adjusted steering column, perforated Windsor leather sports seats, Meridian sound system, adaptive cruise control, park pack (includes 360° parking aid, rear traffic monitor, park assist), and drive pack (with blind-spot assist, adaptive cruise control, high-speed emergency braking). As Jaguar is famous for its options, here is a rundown of what was fitted on this XE, bringing the total before on-road costs to $82,320.
- Premium Upgrade Interior Pack (illuminated metal treadplates, bright metal pedals, configurable ambient lighting) – $1010
- Dynamic Handling Pack (configurable dynamics, Adaptive Dynamics electronically controlled dampers, red brake calipers with 350mm front brake discs, boot lid lip spoiler) – $2090
- Sliding Panoramic Roof – $1900
- Technology Pack (smart rear-view mirror, solar attenuating windscreen, wireless mobile charge pad, head-up display) – $1710
- Black Exterior Pack – $840
- 16-way electric front seats with heating and driver's memory – $650
- Privacy glass – $650
- Split-fold rear seat w/- rear armrest (40-20-40) – $460
- Powered boot lid – $450
Let’s take a look at the interior package. It’s much improved since its refresh. There are nicer touch points on the dash, and everything just seems to be put together better and more strongly.
The pattern on the door trim resembles snake scales, and looks and feels pretty cool, too. The indicator stalks and metal paddle shifters look classical, as does the steering wheel, especially when the control displays disappear when the car is turned off for a much cleaner appearance.
The driver information screen is crisp and displays all you will ever need, but most of the time your eyes will be glued to the head-up-display. The 10.0-inch Touch Pro Duo infotainment system is seamless and responsive, and the built-in satellite navigation is quick and easy to use.
Bizarrely, the parking sensors and park assist controls are through the screen and are not physical buttons. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, but if you’d like to up it a notch, a digital TV can be optioned for $1620.
The climate control can take a bit of getting used to – turn the dial for temperature, pull the dial out for fan speed or push it in for seat ventilation. No doubt it’s designed to save space on the console, but it is a strange design. The rest of the controls/modes are operated through the secondary touchscreen.
Storage is adequate. The door pockets are narrow and not very deep, and the glovebox lid doesn’t open very far to get bulkier items in. However, it does have a strap at the back to secure the instruction manual and a plastic ring clip for a pen, because how many times has a pen got stuck in the glovebox hinges? Clever.
The central armrest has flocked storage with room enough for a phone and wallet, and also hides a Micro SIM card insert, two USBs, and one 12-volt connection. You would struggle to fit a drink bottle in there, but they would belong in the two different-sized rubber-gripped cupholders, where another 12-volt socket sits nearby.
The back seats really aren’t a place for an adult to be for a long trip. Firstly, getting in you fall back into the seat, and getting out, you need to slide your bum up the seat and then climb out. Very awkward, indeed. Toe room under the front seats is almost nonexistent, the head room is tight, and the leg room is adequate. Get a tall driver, and your knees could easily be touching the back of their seat.
But, the seat base is long, there’s a fold-down armrest with cupholders, a 12-volt socket, and rear vents to make the journey more comfortable. For the grandkids, there are ISOFIX points and map pockets to store any kiddie things.
A powered boot lid is fitted as a $450 option, with two shopping bag hooks and a space-saver wheel rounding out a spacious 410L boot.
The 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine pumps out a decent 221kW and 400Nm, with all that power and torque sent to the rear wheels. Its top speed is 250km/h, and with a claimed 100km/h time of 5.9 seconds, it reaches it while pumping out a sweet exhaust note, too.
I spent the majority of the week on 100km/h freeways, and it was very comfortable to be in. Apart from pushing the electrically adjustable lumbar support out, as my back did start to ache a bit, the seating position is wonderfully low and feels sporty.
Adaptive cruise control can be set at 2km/h increments, but it can be temperamental. It can easily build up speed downhill, and a couple of times it made some strange noises when it had to slow suddenly. Noise suppression is fantastic, which makes for a relaxing drive, too.
Integrated in the radio aerial on the roof is a camera that can be turned on and viewed via a switch on the rear-view mirror. Because rear window vision is limited, the camera is a welcome and smart feature. Turn it on while on a four-lane freeway and you can see every lane. Don’t treat it as a reversing camera, though, as you don’t get a feel of depth perception and there are no guidelines.
Driving the XE around town, the eight-speed automatic transmission can be a tad jerky when slowing down as it goes through the gears. The engine start/stop feature is rattly and rough, and shakes the whole car when it starts back up. Any sleeping passengers would be no more.
Find some roundabouts or tight corners, and this is where the XE shines. It handles amazingly with minimal body roll, and it will have you forgetting it’s a luxury sedan in the blink of an eye. I would recommend strapping that handbag in for a wild ride, too. And if you want to up your game, switch the driving mode to Sport, and the instrument dials turn red, the steering becomes more direct, there’s increased accelerator responsiveness, and the exhaust gets louder, with a touch of synthesised sound through the speakers.
But, as much as the paddle shifters look and feel swish, they really aren’t that fun to use and don’t add to the ‘sporty’ experience of the XE. The ride on the 19-inch alloy wheels dealt with the best of Australia's bad-quality roads with no fuss, too, firming up the suspension when turned to Sport mode.
The claimed combined fuel economy from Jaguar is 6.7L/100km. On the freeway, we saw it drop to as low as 7.0L/100km and as high as 8.9L/100km around town. Push it to its limits and the reading will hover around 14L/100km.
The warranty is three years or 100,000km, or you have an option of pre-purchasing servicing for $1750 and that bumps it up to five years or 130,000km, which is probably worth doing. It was last safety-tested in 2015 and received a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Don’t be a sheep and follow everyone else down the SUV path. Be a shepherd and lead, because if you want something a little different with superb styling, cool tech, and a dynamic driving experience, it’s worth taking a look at a medium luxury sedan like the XE.