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New Jaguar XE takes on the German beasts

January 23, 2020 08:30 IST

In the luxury sedan market, which is dominated by the German trio of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, it has always been a challenge to find an alternative that offers a similar experience -- until now.

With its new, second generation entry-level sedan, the XE P250 SE (top-end variant), Jaguar-Land Rover brings a car that offers a driving experience geared for those who enjoy being behind the wheel, says Pavan Lall.

Jaguar XE 250

In the luxury sedan market, which is dominated by the German trio of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, it has always been a challenge to find an alternative that offers a similar experience -- until now.

With its new, second generation entry-level sedan, the XE P250 SE (top-end variant), Jaguar-Land Rover brings a car that offers a driving experience geared for those who enjoy being behind the wheel.

The vehicle has a sleek silhouette that tapers aerodynamically as it slings toward a well-defined nose marked by the car's logo in red, one that you also see emblazoned on the rims of the wheels.

 

Former Jaguar chief of design, Ian Callum, who stepped down last year after being with the company for two decades, once said: "A true Jaguar is something that exists to enjoy and indulge in, both aesthetically and dynamically." The XE SE comes fairly close to adhering to this descriptor. 

Jaguar XE 250

When it comes to looks and styling, the XE is a sharply designed small four-seater sedan that is perfect for city driving.

It's easy to zip in and out of small lanes in this car which scores brownie points on roads that are used to seeing entry-level sedans made by Audi, Mercedes-Benz and the Bimmer.

The car, which has plush but muted interiors kitted out in luxurious leather, is fitted with gizmos that include an entertainment console and premium sound systems.

I drove an all-black version that looked like a fast-moving machine even when stationary.

Jaguar XE 250

Punch the start button and the XE's smooth two-litre Ingenium petrol engine, which is built in aluminium, comes to life with trademark Jaguar smoothness.

The power effortlessly thrusts the heavy sedan into motion with the kind of torque you'd expect in any fast car.

This then makes the XE a perfect machine for the executive looking for a set of wheels that are understated but loaded with power.

On the road, the XE is well planted and nimble, and at least on city streets driving never feels unwieldy, over- or under-powered, which is a delicate but necessary balance to achieve.

Despite many automobiles leaning towards aluminium for building cars, there is no substitute for that solid, heavy feeling you get when going for luxury cars because it does weigh in on how the suspension of the car reacts, how pothole-riddled roads impact the ride quality and on the sound insulation.

On all these factors, and more, the new XE scores highly but that doesn't mean it isn't light-weighting.

Jaguar XE 250

The BS VI-compliant XE comes built with a lightweight aluminium chassis and double wishbone front suspension that supports commendable handling and manoeuvrability while aiding fuel efficiency.

A few days after my moving around in the XE, I noticed that the fuel needle had scarcely moved despite my having activated the dynamic mode, which pushes such cars to perform at sportier levels. So, its range per kilometre is competitively high.

I was also pleasantly surprised to note that unlike the earlier XEs that I have driven this one feels heavy, well-planted and armed with substantial torque in its driving arsenal -- something that is noticeable when hurling along a freeway.

Jaguar XE 250

First launched in 2015 as a rival to the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series, the XE disappointed buyers who were expecting a minimalised version of the luxury limousine to be a real alternative to these cars.

The new XE is a giant step closer to meeting that initial expectation. There is, however, one major area for improvement and that has to do with the seating.

The rear seat is a tight squeeze and almost difficult to use when the front chair-back is pushed back far. The message could potentially be that this is a car built for drivers, but in a market like India the rear seat is not an area any manufacturer can afford to ignore.

Jaguar XE 250

That said, the new XE offers significant tech. Think auto-dimming power fold, heated door mirrors with memory, approach lights and even a wireless device charging station in the front cabin.

Other nifty touches include a pop-out washer in the front of the headlights that have the Jaguar motif engraved on them.

There's also a small projector under the door handles that beams a light, a kind of a halo that reads "Jaguar", on the ground when the car is opened in the dark. Very Batman-like, very cool.

Jaguar XE 250

This car is manufactured, or rather assembled, in Pimpri in Pune but its pricing is still fairly steep when compared to top-of-the-line competitors in its segment that include the likes of the BMW 3 Series.

The bottom-line is that this range of XEs is a more evolved, confident rendition of its earlier avatar, and if the company can crack its pricing and sort out issues like rear seating, it has a potential winner on its hands.

Photographs: Kind courtesy Jaguar India


Pavan Lall is a journalist with Business Standard. He can be contacted at money@rediff.co.in.

Pavan Lall in Mumbai
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