IF YOU’VE just put your order in for a new BMW 3-series or Audi A4 you may want to look again at the Jaguar XE; the refreshed-for-2019 version has just been unveiled and its all-new interior is packed with a load of cool tech.
The most interesting development is the rear-view mirror, which optionally now uses a rear-facing video camera to display what’s going on behind the car via the frameless high-definition display.
Jag says the advantage of using a camera is that the rear view isn’t obscured by tall passengers, poor light or rain on the rear window (wipers would have been too simple a solution, clearly).
Jaguar says it’s a first for cars in the XE’s segment but, although we can think of one production car in America with something similar, we’re struggling to think of any sold in the UK. The Ford Transit, of all things, uses something like it, but that system isn’t nearly as slick.
The subtle-but-high tech interior upgrades continue with the addition of a smartphone wireless charging pad, a fully-digital driver instrument panel, and a new dual-touchscreen infotainment and air conditioning controls — shared with the pure-electric I-Pace.
The XE’s new steering wheel also comes from the I-Pace, and features “hidden-until-lit graphics” and capacitive switches that work more like a smartphone screen rather than traditional push buttons.
The new XE also borrows from another of Jaguar’s stable: the gear select is lifted straight from the F-type sports car and replaces the dial select switch that raises out of the centre console of the current XE and XF.
In addition, there’s almost no sign of hard, scratchy plastics in the cabin — we found it used behind the steering column, but almost everywhere else is covered with leather, soft-touch plastics, chrome elements or veneer inserts (around the gear selector, for example). The door pockets have also been redesigned to accommodate larger items, such as water bottles.
As standard buyers of the new XE will get electric leather seats, front and rear park aid, rear camera and lane keep assist, Android Auto and Apple Carplay, traffic sign recognition and lane keep assist, among other goodies. But splash a bit more cash on higher trim levels and options packs and the tech includes a full-colour head-up display, electric steering column adjustment, additional power sockets and multi-colour ambient lighting.
For some reason Jaguar hasn’t deemed keyless entry a standard feature on all trim levels, which is odd, as you’ll find it on most rivals. Given the security concerns around keyless tech, though, you might be quite pleased not to have it on your XE.
The design is being simplified into two strands: a luxury model and an R-Dynamic model, with a sportier look. Changes to the exterior are even more subtle than those to the interior, though, with the new shape making it look wider and lower than before, with more muscular lines and improved aerodynamics, as well as new all-LED headlights and tail-lights.
Design Director Ian Callum told those of us attending the car’s unveiling in London that he enjoys refreshing cars mid-life, as it’s only once his cars launch, and he sees them on the road, that he notices “what’s wrong with them”.
Under the bonnet is a choice of 250ps and 300ps petrol engines, or a 180ps Ingenium diesel, which Jaguar claims is good for up to 57.6mpg and despite the negative press for diesel fuel, represents the “most cost-effective and environmentally-friendly option” for drivers that travel more than 12,000 miles a year.
Jaguar also says the XE D180 RWD model is RDE2-compliant in a segment-first, meaning company car buyers won’t have to pay a 4% supplement to Benefit-in-Kind tax.
Four-wheel drive is also available, with the flagship petrol AWD model capable of hitting 60mph from standstill in 5.4sec.
Jaguar’s product chief refused to give anything away on the on hybrid or a rumoured plug-in version, other than to say that from 2020, every Jaguar Land Rover will have some sort of electrification.
He also strongly denied rumours that the XE and and larger XF saloons would be combined into a single model, due to limited demand in the face of a rise in popularity of SUVs.
“The XF has had some tough times,” he admitted, “but the segment is quite resilient when it comes to fleet [sales], and they’re on three-year cycles so we expect them to come back. We have about a 10% market share now and wee expect to consolidate that with the updates to this car [XE], and then next year with XF, when it becomes five years old.”
Despite all the XE’s updates, pricing is fairly similar with comparable versions of the outgoing model, with the entry-level XE starting at £33,915 and the D180 R-Dynamic S priced at £36,145 — £670 cheaper than the 19MY XE R-Sport equivalent while adding around £1,100 of extra equipment, Jaguar says.
If you’re interested, the order books are now open and deliveries are slated to begin in April.