EXHILARATING is one of a few adjectives that can be used to describe the 2020 Jaguar XE R-Dynamic HSE, but it’s not the only one that we would use. The new and refreshed version of the XE is Jaguar’s latest offering to the mid-sized sedan category.
Tagged as the P300, the XE R-Dynamic HSE runs a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged engine, built by Land Rover, Jaguar’s partner company. This is matched to an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Compared to the launch series of the XE that was first offered to the Australian market back in late 2014 and early 2015, the Series II model, if you will, has been cosmetically and internally revamped and modernised.
The XE competes with the 3-series BMW line, the C-Class Mercedes line, the A4 Audi line as well as the IS Lexus line. Big shoes to fill considering the C200’s luxury and refinement, while the A4 and 330i are both very good all-rounders.
We won’t compare the XE to the M-series, the AMG-class or S-line cars from those manufacturers though. This is after all a luxury compact sports sedan, and not completely performance based.
At first look, the XE is a thing of beauty, with our version of the car in Firenze Red, a bright and vibrant tone which really suits the sharpness of the front, the sleekness of the sides, and the sporty F-TYPE styling of the rear.
The slimmer headlights with in-built daytime running lights are reminiscent of Audi and Mercedes and although small, it fits the styling on the aggressive front end, along with the grille.
The rear has also been redefined with new tail lights, and a fresh bumper and diffuser to complement the look, with a dual exit exhaust now placed symmetrically.
Inside the cockpit, we’re greeted by an abundance of technology. A plethora of screens, three to be precise, will grab your attention. The customisable digital instrument cluster surpassing the age-old analog versions of the past.
Whether it be a speedometer, tachometer and navigation or completely removing the dials and immersing yourself in your media, the choice is yours. In the centre console, the 10-inch upper screen caters for navigation, media, and smartphone connectivity.
The 5.5-inch lower screen behaves as a shortcut for your connected smartphone, as well as the main control unit for the car’s climate control system. Leather seats with 16-way adjustment, and a redesigned and ornate steering wheel also feature.
The latter’s streamlined concave design gives the controls a sporty feel and the previous rotary gear selector has now been replaced by Jaguar’s trigger-activated SportShift gear selector.
Leg room is a major factor when deciding on a new car too, and considering the XE is the smaller brother of the XF and the luxurious XJ, there is sufficient leg room in the rear, assuming the passengers in those seats aren’t taller than 1.8m.
Although the car is quite long for a compact luxury sedan, the interior can sometimes feel a bit cramped and compact in places. Nevertheless, it’s plush and the leather seats make the ride in all five seats quite enjoyable, not once making you feel claustrophobic.
But one of the most prominent features included in the XE is the optional Meridian surround sound system, which makes the driving experience all the more pleasurable, with 16-speakers throughout the cabin, plus a sub-woofer.
Bluetooth and hot-spot capability are standard through all the models with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. A wireless charger is also an available option if you don’t like having USB cables tangled all over the cabin.
The XE performs well on the road too. It feels planted around corners with minimal body roll. The ride is comfortable and luxurious, but simultaneously sporty and thrilling. So thrilling in fact the car beckons you to drive it some more after you’ve exited.
Thrilling is another one of those adjectives we mentioned earlier. The electronic steering is quick and responsive, with an excellent turning circle. The suspension is firm but not to the point where a slight bump in the road punishes your entire body.
The drive-feel sits on the knife’s edge of performance and luxury, so if you like a bit of luxury but a little bit of performance too, then it’s worth adding to the shopping list.
The 2.0-litre turbocharged flat four makes 221kW and 400Nm, ensuring the car picks up speed quickly and efficiently. Long gone are the days of having to shift down a gear or two to get up a steep hill.
Able to hit 100km/h from a stand-still in 5.9 seconds, there is plenty of power and performance in the car for a range of activities, whether it be a quiet drive to the local shopping centre, or a spirited one through winding mountain roads.
Though Jaguar claims it has a combined fuel efficiency of 6.7-litres/100km, we were unable to get our XE below 10.0-litres/100km. Maybe it’s just too much fun to drive spiritedly, but with a 63-litre fuel tank, the XE can become expensive to refuel.
Unfortunately Jaguar do not offer any alternatives to the petrol engine and transmission pairing, with all XE models sharing the same setup. It is a real shame they discontinued the supercharged V6 available in previous vehicles.
Loaded with safety features, including multiple front and side airbags, emergency braking, blind spot assist, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and even speed limit sign recognition, the XE boasts a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.
The car will monitor the tyre pressures for you and parking has never been easier with the high quality reverse camera, paired with the parking sensors. The cruise control system is a dream to use, being easily set, reset or cancelled.
Key-less entry means you’ll never have to use the keys to lock or unlock the doors.
This car turns heads everywhere it goes, but it’s practicality should not be overlooked and overshadowed by the performance or luxury aspects of the vehicle. There are ISOFIX points in the rear for when you want to have the whole family along for the ride too.
Jaguar offers a large range of extras to suit potential buyers, from a cold climate package which includes heated washer jets and a heated steering wheel, to a dynamic handling package which includes customisable handling, red brake calipers and a boot lid spoiler.
The ClearSight interior mirror and heads up display are also nice additional extras that add a little flair to the whole package and should definitely be considered.
The 2020 Jaguar XE R-Dynamic HSE has a list price of $71,940 plus on-roads. It’s a sensational luxury and performance vehicle, that at the same time is also subtle and practical. Good looks and brand power are just a bonus.
Our test vehicle was supplied by Jaguar Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Jaguar XE R-Dynamic HSE, contact your local Jaguar dealer. Images courtesy of J_Hui Design/Photography.