The new Jaguar XE Chequered Flag on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Jaguar XE Chequered Flag on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2020 Jaguar XE.

We review the 2020 Jaguar XE Chequered Flag edition with great anticipation that soon turned to a real grá for this lithe and lovely cat. Fresh from a 2019 facelift, Jaguar’s compact saloon invites more customers to the brand with contemporary luxury and first class engineering.

Jaguar Ireland is turning our attention in the direction of the Chequered Flag edition of the XE. It adds an impressive list of standard equipment along with some sporty styling additions, all available from a competitive €47,005.

What’s so special about the Jaguar XE?

Let’s rewind a little to put this XE into some context. Jaguar is a small brand compared to the other heavy hitters in the premium segment but buyers of premium cars should do themselves a favour and check out what’s available from the brand. To date, Changing Lanes has spent time with Jaguar’s new breed of SUVs; that will be the ground-breaking F-PACE of 2016 and the E-PACE follow up of 2017.

But what about the classic Jaguar saloon? The XE was in fact an all-new model for the brand back in 2014, joining the XF and XJ in Jaguar’s premium saloon range. Just like competitor brands, the XE was about attracting younger buyers to the brand with a modern compact saloon that oozed class and sporty appeal. Let’s remember this is the brand that lives by the tagline ‘The Art of Performance’.

The Jaguar XE Chequered Flag is on sale priced from €47,005
The Jaguar XE Chequered Flag is on sale priced from €47,005

What’s new for the 2020 Jaguar XE?

The Jaguar XE has great presence on the road and the 2019 facelift offers some satisfactory updates to appearance to keep things modern. New front and rear bumpers feature as do all-LED headlights and tail-lights with distinctive ‘J-blade’ LED signatures. Chequered Flag editions get black 18” alloys and exterior pack.

However, it’s inside where the XE really does sell itself beautifully. Open the door and you will be met by a stylish and classy cabin full of leather and other contemporary magic. We loved our test car’s cream leather and panelling. The contour-hugging front seats are mounted low, creating a sports-car like driving position. The raised centre console also adds to the sportiness.

The 2019 facelift reaped dividends for the brand in this segment. Soft-touch materials, premium veneers and all-new door trims feature as does a revised centre console, new gear shift selector, and a new steering wheel shared with the I-PACE electric SUV. It features hidden-until-lit graphics and tactile switches for intuitive control of key functions.

The interior of the Jaguar XE Chequered Flag
The interior of the Jaguar XE Chequered Flag

More technology for the interior

The Chequered Flag edition also benefits from a swish new Touch Pro Duo infotainment system with 10″ touchscreen. Apple Car Play and Android Auto sync easily but the native system is quite impressive. The twin-screen system also includes a 5.5″ lower touchscreen with two physical dials for things like ventilation and other functions. It looks great and it is actually one of the easiest on the market to use. Wireless phone charging is available for the first time too.

Other standard features on the Jaguar XE Chequered Flag are 14-way electric heated front seats, illuminated metal tread plates, configurable ambient lighting, front and rear parking sensors and reverse camera.

In Ireland the Jaguar XE is available at present with petrol and diesel engines form the brand’s Ingenium range of engines. The 2.0-litre turbo diesel puts out a healthy 180 hp. There is also a 2.0-litre petrol available with 250 or 300 hp.

The Jaguar XE strikes a fine balance between comfort and performance
The Jaguar XE strikes a fine balance between comfort and performance

On the road in the Jaguar XE!

Jaguar has a fantastic heritage in motorsport and building performance-oriented road cars. Yet can they package this supremacy in a compact saloon? We were keen to find out. In fact the XE appears to do it better than any rival in its current iteration. Much of the on-road performance is down to the Jaguar XE’s lightweight aluminium intensive body structure. Aluminium makes up 75 per cent of the body and combines with classic sporty rear wheel drive and sophisticated integral link rear suspension. The XE is the most agile in its class, a playful mate for keen drivers. The steering is wonderfully weighted with loads of precision and steering feel. No interruptions, this car is an excellent communicator on the road.

Jaguar has achieved a fine balance between comfort and performance in the XE. Despite a sporty oriented drive this car covers the road phenomenally well. Automatic transmission comes as standard and we liked the slickness of shifts in association with the 2.0-litre diesel in our test car. This engine is another fine point. Refinement is very good and performance, one of the best. It’s swift and responsive with 430 Nm of torque, achieving 0 to 100 kmh in 8.1 seconds. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was a competitive 5.5 l per 100 km.

Enthusiastic drivers will also find a Dynamic mode that amplifies the car’s sporting character, with faster gear shifts, sharper throttle response and increased steering weighting. We kept the car in Comfort most of the time and we were happy with the experience behind the wheel. Other modes include Eco or Rain, Ice, Snow Mode. Jaguar also includes All Surface Progress Control (ASPC) in the spec, a useful driver aid based on Jaguar Land Rover’s experience in off-road traction systems. It’s like a low speed cruise control system and helps XE drivers to electronically gain traction in seconds, ideal for use on low-grip surfaces, such as snow-covered roads.

Diesel and petrol engines are available in the current XE line-up
Diesel and petrol engines are available in the current XE line-up

Did you like it all?

So was there anything we didn’t like about this car? With the XE there is a compromise to be made on interior and boot space. This is the smallest car in its class when it comes to interior space. Rear legroom is on the tight side compared to rivals. The saloon style boot restricts practicality somewhat. There is over 410 litres available, but like for like, it is less than what you find in rivals.

The Jaguar XE is a smooth operator that comes up behind you, overtakes you and you never realised it was just so good. Seductive looks and the prestige of the Jaguar badge should put it on your shortlist as a mid size sports saloon. Yes we can call it a legitimate sports saloon because it really does feel like one. Even with a four cylinder diesel engine!

Once you get behind the wheel you will love the Jaguar for its classy interior and incredible on the road performance and agility. The 2019 facelift keeps the XE very competitive in its segment with the addition of the latest infotainment. The Chequered Flag edition is very tempting for the level of standard kit and price; when you compare it to rivals of similar spec it seems well-priced.

The XE feels smaller inside than rivals but if space is not a priority, then enjoy one of the most fun and sporty compact saloons on the market right now.

Jaguar XE Chequered Flag on sale now
Jaguar XE Chequered Flag on sale now

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Jaguar XE 2.0 D Chequered Flag
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
180 hp
Torque: 430 Nm
8.1 seconds
Top speed: 228 km/h
Fuel economy: 4.9 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 130 g/km
Motor Tax:  €270 per year