Jaguar XE 20t Review

After a long wait to get behind the wheel of the new Jaguar XE, I was finally handed the keys at the end of last year, and with them, the chance to get acquainted with Jaguar’s most affordable car.

I was familiar with the vehicle I was given to drive, having seen it on a number of Instagram accounts, and had previously assumed it was the top of the line car due to its exterior styling. Obviously this was Jaguar’s intention, and I soon found out it wasn’t the car I’d expected to be driving, but the 2.0 litre variant. For potential buyers and customers of the 2.0 litre model, this misconception might be well received, I on the other hand, was a little disappointed. Nevertheless, at an impressive $60,400, the XE I drove was an enjoyable piece of kit and a worthy entry point to the luxury car market.

Jaguar XE 20t

The XE was introduced to take on the German manufacturers, in an attempt to steal some market share away from BMW’s 3 series, Audi’s A4 and Mercedes-Benz’ C-Class. I won’t comment on comparing the XE to any of these vehicles, as I’d need to drive them all side by side,  but I will tell you that all I could think about for the week I had the car, and following my time in BMW’s top tier 3 Series was, ‘wow I’d like to peg the XE S and BMW 340i against each other.’

Jaguar XE 20t

Exterior wise, you can already gauge my sentiments, the XE looks good (well I think so anyway). Especially in the colour combination I drove. The only people who won’t like the look of the car will be those who purchase the more expensive variants and the XF – at a glance I really struggle to tell the two apart. Great for XE owners, not so great for XF owners. Inside the cockpit is handsome, but not as luxurious as I had expected it to be, in fact probably the least luxurious out of all its German rivals. In saying that however, I did find the cabin design to be engaging, well put together, and functionally thought out. In short, with firm but comfortable seating, and an intuitive infotainment system, it’s a perfectly lovely place to spend many hours of your day.

Jaguar XE 20t

The area that the XE excels in, is its ride. The steering is wonderful, and the chassis is beautifully balanced. The driving position is also great, allowing you to pull the steering wheel towards you, while your hunkered down nice and low in your seat.

Jaguar XE 20t

Here is where my perception of the vehicle gets a little shaky. I thought the XE in the 20t guise was under gassed. It wasn’t that 147kW 2.0 litre turbo wasn’t capable, I just don’t think it suited the car. When pushed, the car felt spritely, agile and responsive, but also a little unsure of itself, often confused about which gear out of the eight to select when the foot went to the floor. I ended up spending the majority of my time in the car in Sport mode, and when I required any sort of performance out of it, I was using the paddles to find as much torque as possible, and really squeezing every last drop out of it. The 25t variant above the 20t gets the same 2.0 litre engine, but tuned differently to 177kW, I think it’s safe to assume that it would have a little more character. Either way I think a lot of people will look to the running costs of the Diesel we reviewed last month of the entry petrol engine. 

Whilst this segment of the luxury car industry is arguably the most important, and the biggest in the world, it’s also the one I find least appealing. Personally, I rank performance above all else when discussing automobiles, and at $60k I’d expect a bit more than the XE 20t delivers – I however don’t speak for the vast majority of car buyers. The Jaguar XE 20t is a great car, not for pushing the limits, but for fulfilling desires of sophistication, and status at a relatively low cost. Similar to the gorgeous new girl you’re dating, who impresses your mates, and is great with your parents, but lacks the oomph you desire to form an obsession.

Jaguar XE 20t

Head to Jaguar to spec your own XE.

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James is the Founder and Editor of The Versatile Gent.

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