Home > Auto > Cars > Jaguar XE 2020 first drive review: Prowling with renewed purpose

The XE from Jaguar has been quite a favourite among buyers looking into the entry-level luxury sedan space in India. The right DNA of sporty performance, assured drive, decently luxurious cabin, plethora of creature comforts - all packed into an exterior package that commands attention made the XE an instant hit back in 2016 when it was first launched here. That it was the most affordable Jaguar was a big selling point as well. So, when most things come together effortlessly to make for a good machine on wheels, the challenge to better that good becomes even more daunting.

Trust Jaguar to go hunting on just that daunting of a trail.

Designed to dazzle

Jaguar XE 2020 gets several design upgrades. (HT Auto photo)
Jaguar XE 2020 gets several design upgrades. (HT Auto photo)

If looks could kill, the XE would be right up there in the 'Most Wanted' list. In its 2020 form factor, the car gets even more stunning with noticeably thinner, sharper LED head lights dominating the front fascia. The designers at Jaguar have made the front grille - which now has a fresh Jaguar badge - bigger as well as stretched the air dams on either side of the bumper.

While this accentuates the XE's sporty profile, there is quite an uncanny similarity to a muscle car, say Mustang, courtesy a bumped up bonnet with sculpted lines down the center.

The sedan sits on 17-inch alloys while the rear profile continues to adhere to the new philosophy of keeping key elements sharper than before. So, the tail lights have been made sleeker and the rear bumper reworked around the air dams. Also in a first, Jaguar cars will have the variant mentioned clearly on the rear profile.

The rear profile of Jaguar XE 2020 gets a makeover. (HT Auto photo)
The rear profile of Jaguar XE 2020 gets a makeover. (HT Auto photo)

Indulgent interiors

For all the changes to the design on the outside, the real difference between the outgoing XE and the 2020 XE is just how much more premium sitting inside the latter is.

A new steering wheel greets the driver immediately upon entering while the wraparound dashboard has been pushed up by a bit and now gets a leather finish to add to the plushness.

The center console near the armrest has been re-designed and now appears wider, housing the new gear stick which has been taken from the F-Type. The placement of most buttons and knobs are carefully planned to ensure that everything of need is within reach and requires minimal effort. The physical buttons for the three drive modes - Eco, Comfortable and Dynamic - have now been replaced by a single flick-switch unit which negates the need to take eyes off the road. Move a bit back and under the cover tray are cup holders which have been redesigned to accommodate bigger mugs.

The new XE gets a much more luxurious cabin. (HT Auto photo)
The new XE gets a much more luxurious cabin. (HT Auto photo)

The obvious highlight here though is the large, now wider touchscreen which houses the plethora of apps, NAV, multimedia and car information details. Under it are two large dials for climate control. In many other foreign markets though, these knobs are absent and there is a touch-screen interface here. While it would have further added to the opulence, not having the screen in India may be as much a user-centric decision as a cost-saving one.

The XE 2020 does continue to suffer from space constraints though and four passengers - especially the ones at the rear, are sure to feel a tad bit cramped. Getting in and out of the car remains back-breaking as ever with a ground clearance that deserved a bump up even if at the cost of the sporty look from the outside.

Driving to delight

The XE 2020 remains firmly committed to the 2.0 litre petrol and diesel engines it has always had, and that's a good decision. There were no complaints against the two engines and how the car performed, and on the contrary, massive praises. The new XE remains every bit as planted and sporty to drive as it has always been. It remains steady at high speeds, moves into corners with ease and hardly minds patches of road breaks.

It is amply clear then that what Jaguar wanted to achieve with the new XE, they have. The car looks even better than before, the cabin is several leaps above what was on offer before and the drive is as good as ever. At a starting price of 44.98 lakhs, the 2020 XE - offered in S and SE variants - remains a solid proposition in its segment which also has the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 and the 3 Series from BMW.