The medium sedan market has not been a great space for Jaguar in recent decades. The Ford Mondeo-based X-Type didn’t come close to rivals like the BMW 3 Series and while the XE has fared better, the market has not taken to it as well as Jaguar would have liked, particularly in the face of the upswing in demand for the brand’s SUVs.
Recent news that Jaguar will create a next generation of the XE means the company has no intention of giving up, with the new model expected around 2022, but in the meantime, the facelift will launch in SA in September or October 2019 and we’ve driven it in the UK.
Design changes to make it look sharper and more athletic definitely hit the spot. The deep front bumper and narrow LED headlights with J-blade daytime running lights make it look meaner than the old model. The rear gets a new bumper and slim taillights more in keeping with brand styling changes that began with the F-Type. The changes might not seem like much but they give the XE a more sporty look to blend with its executive character and are even more pronounced on R-Dynamic versions.
Inside there are more obvious changes including the switch from the rotating gear dial to the Sportshift gearstick from the F-Type. The centre console has been extensively revised with fewer buttons and the option of the Touch Pro Duo system from the electric I-Pace. The instrument cluster has a fully digital display.
It’s also available with the ClearSight rear view mirror that debuted on the new Range Rover Evoque and that shows you the view from the back of the car via a camera with adjustable views in the rear mirror.
The new XE is a good looking vehicle, particularly with its wide haunches that actually make it look, even in standard guise, more athletic than its rivals from Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Some of the interior changes take away the unique Jagness, particularly the switch from the transmission selection dial and there’s no denying that the cabin has become a little dated in its architecture and design. It’s simple, uncluttered yet with tech in all the right places.
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