The 2020 Jaguar XE facelift made its debut in Malaysia towards the second half of last year. It is available locally in a solitary R-Dynamic variant. It is the most fun I've had in a rear-wheel-drive sports saloon yet!
So far in my yet short-living automotive journalist (if I can be called that) vocation, I have had two vehicles that I've had trouble returning. My love for the Volvo S60 T8 is well documented hence it is no surprise but I never saw myself falling for a Jaguar!
After having the car over the weekend the question that kept lingering was "Why don't we see more of the XE on our roads?"
Unfortunately, Jaguar in Malaysia has the same conundrum as Audi. They both offer CBU vehicles competing against a sea of CKD challengers. So like Audi, Jaguar has to be smart in packaging their vehicles, offering the luxury and prestige of a Jaguar at a price point that is palatable. It is no easy task.
But boy, oh boy did they hit the nail on the head with the XE!
Look, it ticks off all the boxes of a premium, opulent, classy marque - it is sophisticated yet elegant, bold without being garish, subtle yet imbued with presence.
But that is not where it excels in - it is the drive in which this Jaguar XE pounces, lithe and limber as its namesake!
It is a car that begs to be driven hard, it is most rewarding over B-roads, chuck it around a corner, and awe at its torque vectoring abilities. Just when you think the rear is about to step out, the rear tyres offer up more grip as you crest the apex of the turn. Stopping power is equally impressive with vented 350mm front discs and 325mm rear discs providing improved resistance to brake fade especially when pushed hard.
From the moment you get into the XE and get strapped in, you're in flight mode. From the very low floor which means you just might knock the air-con vents as you climb in, to the SportShift gear selector that is shaped like a plane sidestick controller. The Jaguar XE makes no pretensions and it wants you to know that!
Make no mistake, however, it will comfortably carry four. I had my wife and son in the rear for a road trip to Kuala Selangor and they had very little to complain about. My wife did remark that the car was a little low which made ingress and egress a little cumbersome. Boot space at 455 litres is bigger than the Volvo S60's at 442 litres but smaller than both its German rivals that come in at about 480 litres or so. Being so low to the ground made it easy for me to load and unload items from the boot. Cabin refinement is top in class even at speeds of 150km/h. Conversations can be had between the front and rear passengers without having to raise voices over tire roar.
The infotainment unit in the XE now features a Touch Pro Duo system with crisp crystal clear dual touchscreens. The top 10-inch display gives you access to infotainment, navigation, and media functions. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported. The 5.5-inch lower unit provides climate control options that are adjustable via dynamic rotary dials. Wireless charging is also available.
The XE will get up to cruising speeds with ease even in Comfort mode and comfortably amble along at speeds above the national speed limit but like I've intimated above, that's not where it shines. It comes alive like the red lights on the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster when you toggle the JaguarDrive control switch to Dynamic.
The steering gets sharper, the gearshifts quicker, the exhaust rumble bass-ier. It is in Dynamic mode that the integral link rear suspension (that according to Jaguar promises sharp response and handling whilst at the same time retaining a refined ride) comes alive. The integral link setup coupled with the front double-wishbone suspension ensures that most sought after 'feedback' every 'driver' looks for. The Jaguar XE is a driver's car - there are no two ways about it.
In a sea of 3's, and C's - the XE stands out especially in Santorini Black with a Siena Tan leather interior. It's a head-turner!
For the German badge loyalists or those who think with their wallets then this Jaguar isn't for you and that's fine really but for those of you who treasure exclusivity, then you owe it to yourself to take the XE for a test drive. After all, it is where saloon meets sport.
Oh yes, if you need to crank up the volume to some Metallica while you're carving those B-roads then the 6-speaker, 125W amplifier Jaguar sound system makes the car into a concert with you being centre stage.
*Thinking out loud - wouldn't it be cool to put the BMW M340i, Mercedes-AMG C43 Sedan, Volvo S60 T8 and Jaguar XE P300 R-Dynamic up against each other? Hmm...
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