Review: 2020 Jaguar XE R-Dynamic HSE

Jaguar is one of the most recognised brands in the automotive industry. For many years the brand has been synonymous with luxury, performance and elegance. But does that sentiment still ring true with the 2020 Jaguar XE R-Dynamic HSE?

Can I just start by saying the vehicle line up from Jaguar these days is absolutely brimming with exciting products – from the stunningly beautiful, electrifying I-Pace, through to the latest F-Type Coupe and Convertible, and let’s not forget the F-Pace SUV – especially the one with the SVR badge on the back. There is not a single car in their entire line up for 2020, that anyone with half an ounce of passion for cars in general, would look at and go “yeah, not a fan of that”. In fact, you might think Jaguar cars are just a car to be seen in, not a car that motoring enthusiasts actually want to drive. Driving one however, will make you learn that’s totally wrong.

The XE sports sedan is no different. Not only has it been given a bit of a refresh for 2020, but Jaguar has also simplified the model line up from fourteen specifications, down to two – R-Dynamic P300 SE and R-Dynamic P300 HSE. Both models come fitted with a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine that develops 221kW and 400Nm, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Our test vehicle was the range topping R-Dynamic P300 HSE, finished in gorgeous Caldera Red over light-oyster Windsor leather with ebony contrast stitching, Black Exterior Pack, sitting on 20-inch 10-spoke wheels finished in Satin Grey with contrast Diamond Turned finish over Red brake calipers. Even just reading that specification build is enough to excite the senses.

Starting on the outside, the vibrant red paintwork really highlights the revised front bumper with the larger front grille, flanked by those slimmer LED headlights with DRL function. The rear has been treated with a new style diffuser with dual exit exhausts, as well as new LED tail lights – hinting at the family connection to the F-Type in style. It’s instinctively eye-catching and stylish, and not overdone. Call it styled by Goldilocks if you will, not too much, not too little. Just Right.

Inside the cabin is where you will think you are sitting in something that should cost a lot more than the XE R-Dynamic HSE does. Benefiting largely from the unique interior elements originally found in the I-Pace, the cabin has a very rich feel about it, and is decked out with high quality material and seriously nice touches such as leather and aluminium mesh trim. The concave style steering wheel in the 2020 XE is one that we absolutely fell in love with (and think would be worthy of being a collectors item in the future) – with control displays that disappear into gloss black when the car is turned off.

There are four screens in the XE, a 12.3-inch customisable digital instrument cluster, a 10.0-inch screen to handle your navigation, media and smartphone connectivity (complete with AppleCarPlay and AndroidAuto), as well as a smaller 5.5-inch unit that acts as the main control uni for the climate control. The fourth screen is incorporated into the rear view mirror, a feature first unveiled on the 2020 Range Rover Evoque. The “ClearSight Rear View Mirror,” as Jaguar calls it, changes at the flip of a switch between an actual rear view mirror to an HD display that shows off an unobstructed 50-degree view of what’s behind the car. The 2020 XE is the first in it’s class to offer this technology, and it’s definitely a “must have” option for the $405 additional cost in our opinion.

Safety is also high on the standard inclusion list on the 2020 Jaguar XE, featuring multiple front and side airbags, emergency braking, blind spot assist, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and speed limit sign recognition. The 2020 Jaguar XE has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.

The climate control can take a bit of getting used to, especially when trying to figure out where to adjust the fan speed. Pro Tip, simply turn the dial to change temperate, and then pull the dial toward you and turn to adjust fan speed. Push the dial in and you will access the seat ventilation. It’s definitely clever, and once we got used to it we thought it was an absolute winner and a standout for saving space and clutter on the console.

Storage in the XE is fairly reasonable, however we did find the door pockets not very deep or wide enough to store larger items. The storage bin located at the central armrest will store your phone and wallet, and also houses two USB connections and one 12-volt connection, and if you needed space for water bottles, there are two different sized rubberised cupholders sitting underneath a retractable roller door in front of the central armrest. A wireless phone charger pad sits in front of the Jaguar SportShift selector for added convenience to your daily commute.

Boot capacity comes in at a fairly spot on class average of 455L and is a fairly deep one, deep enough to accommodate a set of golf clubs for your mid-week tee off. Spend an additional $460 and you can get 40:20:40 Folding Rear Seats with Centre Armrest. If not, they are fixed into position.

The rear door openings we found to be a bit small, which did make fitting a child seat a bit more awkward than usual, and the doors themselves are fairly long which makes opening them in tight car parks a bit tricky.

Seating wise, there is plenty of space up the front with the driver and passenger seats providing great levels of comfort and adjustment, but a fair bit less space in the rear, made worse so by a wide tunnel that runs the length of the floor thus limiting the foot space for the middle rear passenger. Shorter drivers would want to lift the seat base because the windscreen pillars are fairly thick – especially at the base, which can cause sizeable blind spots.

It was a sad day indeed when Jaguar dropped the V6 from the engine line up from the XE, but this new turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol unit that develops 221kW and 400Nm is an absolute pearler. With a well balanced chassis, minimal body roll and an eight-speed auto that is both smooth and unobtrusive, you’re in for a real treat; especially when you flick it into “Dynamic Mode”. It most definitely feels quicker than the acclaimed 5.9 seconds from rest to 100km/h, along with the subtle turbo spool noise, just enough to remind you that you’re in something with a bit of power. Fuel Consumption was claimed at 6.9L/100km, but we felt that the car encourages more enthusiastic driving, meaning our own recording was a bit higher. That being said though, when you are cruising on the highway at 100km/h like a law abiding citizen, in eighth gear, your tachometer is hovering around the 1750rpm mark, just purring along. There is definitely reason to believe Jaguar’s efficiency claim.

Driving dynamics were a great highlight in the previous generation XE, and we’re glad to say that it hasn’t changed with the new model. Whilst we were fairly happy with the gearbox in the XE for majority of the driving that would be conducted in this car; it is really smooth and smart enough to make it’s own decisions when left in auto mode, it would have been nice to have a bit more “sharpness” between gear changes, switching between gears on a spirited drive that required relatively quick downshifts did appear to take longer than I’d usually like (compared to a 3 Series BMW as an example) which is a real shame because the rest of the driving dynamics from the “little red Jag” as my wife called it, were simply sublime.

Our test model also came equipped with the “Dynamic Handling Pack” which adds Configurable Dynamics, Adaptive Dynamics, Red Brake Calipers, 350mm Front Brakes and a subtle Rear Spoiler, at a cost of $2090, and trust me when I say those brakes had no trouble bringing the car to a stop. I found them a little bitey at first when trying to make a smooth stop, but that’s not something I would honestly complain about much if I’m honest. All in all, the 2020 Jaguar XE R-Dynamic HSE has all the right stuff to make your boring highway crawl into the city an absolute breeze in great comfort, and you can take great pleasure in knowing that when the opportunity presents itself, you have a chassis and powertrain that is both eager and capable to take the longer, twisty back road instead.

The steering is well weighted, precise and quick to react to driver input, and it must be said that the suspension setup offers tremendous levels of grip. It also helps that majority of the architecture for the XE is made from lightweight aluminium to keep weight down. If you are the sort of person who, like myself, tends to buy vehicles that have a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde personality, the XE R-Dynamic HSE P300 is definitely one for you to look at – smartly dressed in it’s Ermenegildo Zegna Bespoke Suit, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s just a good looker, simply meant to be admired while parked along James Street in New Farm at one of those wellness cafe-come-wellness spa’s that sell kale, water and colonics. But thankfully, you’d be wrong. Because this car, has what it takes to meet and in some regards exceed the expectations of an athletic luxury sport sedan.

One thing that Jaguar has also been famous for, is their options list, and our test model came relatively fully loaded at a Price As Tested of $81,040 plus On-Road Costs. Without any options, a standard (but still seriously well equipped) XE R-Dynamic HSE P300 will set you back $71,940 plus on-road costs.

Below is the full options list that came fitted on our XE R-Dynamic HSE P300:

Dynamic Handling pack (Configurable Dynamics, Adaptive Dynamics, Red Brake Calipers,350mm Front Brakes, Rear Spoiler) – $2,090
Technology Pack (Smart Rear View Mirror, Solar Attenuating Windscreen, Wireless Device Charging, Head Up Display) – $1,710
Matrix LED Headlights with Signature DRL – $1,350
20-Inch, 10 Spoke, Satin Grey with Contrast Diamond Turned Finish – $1,300
Black Exterior Pack – $840
Caldera Red – $700
Privacy Glass – $650
40:20:40 Folding Rear Seats with Centre Armrest – $460

Make no mistake, the 2020 XE R-Dynamic HSE makes a compelling argument to be considered as an alternative choice in the entry-level luxury sedan category. It faces a pretty big battle against its competitors such as the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, but the updates for 2020 have definitely brought more ammunition to the fight. Those wanting a car that not only offers the allure and dynamism of a true luxury sports sedan, brimming with a sense of mystery, but is also proud to hold a Royal Warrant of Appointment, the 2020 Jaguar XE is an undeniably attractive choice.

Our Test Vehicle was supplied by Jaguar Land Rover Australia, contact your local Jaguar dealer for more information.

Jaguar now also offers the XE with a five-year, unlimited km warranty. (includes factory 3 year warranty plus 2 additional years.)

Quick Specs:

Price: from $71,940 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol
Output: 221kW/400Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Fuel: 6.9L/100km (ADR Combined)
CO2: 153g/km (ADR Combined)
Safety rating: Five-star ANCAP (2016)

  • 8.5/10
    Value for Money (Price, Packaging and Practicality) - 8.5/10
  • 8.5/10
    Driving Dynamics (Engine, Chassis and Drivetrain) - 8.5/10
  • 9/10
    Exterior Styling - 9/10
  • 8.5/10
    Interior Styling, Safety and Technology - 8.5/10
  • 8/10
    X-Factor - 8/10
8.5/10

Summary

Whilst it might be up against some of the world’s toughest rivals in the segment, the 2020 Jaguar XE is an impressive all-rounder, proper fun to drive with plenty of impressive and highly desirable features, especially after its mid-life facelift. 

What we liked:

It’s one of, if not the best looking vehicle in it’s class.

The absolutely beautiful interior with updated infotainment is terrific.

Punchy and eager turbocharged engine with an exceptional chassis. 

Great overall ride comfort.

What we didn’t like:

Gear changes can be a bit slow when you’re on a spirited drive.

Rear occupants can feel a bit cramped, especially if they are considered “tall”.

Long rear doors can be a pain in cramped parking centre bays.

Climate control switchgear can take a while to get used to. 

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