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Andy Harris
Motoring and Property Editor
9:01 PM 7th December 2019

Jaguar’s XE Gets A Makeover

Jaguar’s compact saloon is some four years old, time then for a few improvements to keep it competitive.

I am not sure that there was much wrong with the previous model, but in a world where increasingly we rely on and desire the very latest technology in our cars, this was an area that did need addressing.

Out go the old touchscreens and in their place now sits the latest Touch Pro Duo setup. Three screens are now fitted to amaze and delight and with a little familiarity, it is none too intimidating to use.

The instruments are displayed in a customizable 12.3-inch panel, whilst the central 10.2-inch touchscreen controls the infotainment and navigation functions.

Below this sits a smaller screen for the heating and seat functions, a tad complicated perhaps.

I rather liked the rotary gear lever that used to rise majestically from the centre console. It was easy to use but has now been replaced by a more conventional lever.

My test car came in high-specification HSE R-Dynamic guise, a 180PS diesel engine and all-wheel drive. The four-cylinder motor was mated to a smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox, with steering wheel paddles for ultimate control. This combination is good enough to allow the XE to complete the 0-60mph sprint in under eight seconds.

In ‘sport’ mode, the gearbox kicks down quickly allowing for swift bursts of acceleration when required. It is not the most sonorous engine, but with 430Nm of torque, it rarely needs to be fully extended.

Up to 46.4mpg is promised for the combined cycle and during my unusually quiet week of mainly local running, I recorded 37mpg. Cold weather and lots of shorter journeys clearly paid their part.

My last day with the Jag saw an exceptionally heavy overnight frost, with many untreated minor roads. Having sampled the XE’s AWD system before, I ventured out undaunted and enjoyed a few memorable hours on some spectacular roads.

Never once was traction an issue and on one exceptionally tricky ice-covered descent, I used the XE’s hill descent function to keep things under control. It’s impressive in operation, making the AWD XE an ideal all-year-round mode of transport.

As compact saloon cars go, the XE was always one of the more engaging to drive and if anything, the car’s dynamics are now even sharper, yet not to the detriment of ride quality. Even in dynamic mode, and with 19-inch alloy wheels, the suspension has a remarkable ability to deal with the very nastiest lumps and bumps.

The fact that the XE’s underpinnings can do this and yet deliver razor sharp handling is impressive indeed.

HSE trim want for very little, but there is still scope to personalise. The test car boasted some £6,000 of options and if I were specifying the car to taste, I would pick them all. The sunroof (£1,200), Tech Pack (£1,470) which includes head-up display and wireless charging, and 16-way heated electric front seats are perhaps the most notable.

So, are there any downsides to XE ownership? Space in the rear for taller passengers is at a premium and if you regularly travel with all seats occupied, then Jaguar’s larger XF saloon is likely to be a better bet.

Having owned quite a number of Jaguars during my motoring career, including an AWD X-Type, the XE is very much a Jaguar at heart. Great to drive and with a premium interior, it’s a car to buy with both head and heart. I liked it a lot and if you enjoy driving, you will too.

And the recent updates ensure that the XE is now equipped to do battle with its rivals and if was in the lucky position to buy a compact sporting saloon car, I know where my money would go!

Fast Facts

Jaguar XE HSE R-Dynamic AWD
From £42,835 On The Road
180PS 2.0-litre 4-cylinder diesel engine
8-speed automatic gearbox
0-60mph in 7.8 seconds
Maximum speed 140mph
Combined economy 46.4-41.6mpg
NEDC emissions – 138g/km CO2