2020 Jaguar XE First Drive Review

by Lawana Perkins | Posted on Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

It’s tough out there for compact sports sedans, even top contenders like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Jaguar resorted to a big-winged, bestial XE Project 8 that toppled a Nürburbring record to try and gain some attention, but the regular 2020 Jaguar XE will have to attain relevance on its unwinged charms against stiff German competition. We piloted the updated underdog through jagged hills above coastal France to see how its improvements stack up.

2020 Jaguar XE

For 2020, the XE receives a few subtle but effective styling tweaks — a resculpted front bumper, a wider and more purposeful grille, and a rear bumper with slimmer LED tail lamps that make the backend appear wider and more aggressive. Aerodynamic efficiency is slightly improved or equal to the previous model, depending on equipment.

The added torque of the bigger turbo aids in the midrange and upper end of the power delivery, but there’s also a subtle tradeoff in handling, as the mandatory all-wheel drive setup in the more powerful car adds 115 pounds of mass, which puts the P300 at 3,560 pounds. Both models turn in with a good, sharp response, and exhibit excellent body control and feel.

Which bring us to the aforementioned German competition. The XE can’t compete in shuttling around four full-sized adults comfortably — the rear quarters are simply unimpressive. And if you’re craving a driving experience to the soundtrack of a soulful engine, the XE’s two flavors of turbocharged fours don’t delight the senses with the bliss provided by the Alfa Romeo Giulia’s raucous 280 hp turbo four.

But the XE’s interior improvements and chassis strengths do conspire to elevate the Jaguar well beyond its previous generation’s offerings. The 2020 XE isn’t a conventional choice — it’s an outlier, but also a bit of an underdog. And if the XE already appealed to you, the 2020’s enhanced charms might present a solid case for straying off the beaten path.


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