JAGUAR XE R-DYNAMIC SE
As the dust settles after a range cull, will the XE’S true worth be recognised?
THERE’S SOMETHING about the Jaguar XE that hasn’t grabbed the attention, and wallets, of the buying public, despite it being one of the most appealing drives in the premium mid-size sedan segment. Just 528 registrations were recorded for the XE last year,
down from 729 in 2017. Meanwhile, class sales leader, the Mercedes-benz C-class, shifted more than 13,600 units in 2017-18. Jaguar hopes to have found the fix by radically readjusting its local offering as part of the model’s first midlife update.
Cosmetic changes are subtle tweaks front and rear, enhancing the already handsome looks, while the interior has been graced by the infotainment system and steering wheel from the Jaguar I-pace, as well as a new gear selector, spelling an end to the fiddly rotary dial.
Also gone are all except one engine configuration. Previously, XE buyers had to choose between five different engines, spread across 11 variants. Now, just two variants are offered. The last engine standing is the punchiest of the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol units, badged P300. It produces a healthy 221kw/400nm and sends power to the rear wheels via the carry-over eightspeed ZF auto.
Trim levels are now limited to either SE or HSE badges – $65,670 and $71,940 respectively. The base S grade is history. Both variants come fitted with Jag’s more aggressive R-dynamic styling pack as standard.
So, should you be parting with an extra $6270 for the higher-grade XE? HSE buyers score an electrically adjustable steering column, 16-way adjustable heated front seats (SE buyers have 12-way adjustable pews), 19-inch alloy wheels (up from 18s for the cheaper variant) an 11-speaker sound system, and the Touch Pro Duo infotainment system spread across two 10.0-inch touchscreens on the centre console. The SE gets the same software on a single 10.0-inch screen, and a reasonable list of convenience equipment. But if you want high-speed autonomous emergency braking, blindspot monitoring and adaptive cruise control on the SE, you’ll need the $1340 Drive pack.
Thankfully, the XE’S dynamic appeal remains untainted, retaining classleading steering and an impressively compliant ride.
Crucially, though, it’s the range rationalisation that should result in more customers opting for a test drive before giving up out of confusion. Hopefully JLR’S Australian operation applies a similar strategy to its other flabby model lines. Sometimes, less really is more.