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Jaguar XE 20d Prestige Review

The most-affordable of Jaguar’s new XE, specifically the diesel 20d Prestige we have on test here and its petrol 20t twin, play a slightly different, though complimentary, role. They’re not merely to lure buyers to the Jaguar fold, but also to entice shoppers new to the premium car ownership experience, many of them younger than Jaguar’s traditional buyer demographic.

There’s full leather-faced trim throughout, 10-way electric adjustable front seats, ambient interior lighting, 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment and an 11-speaker 380-watt Meridian sound system as enticing flash; 75-percent aluminium construction, torque-vectoring-by-braking chassis smarts, blind-spot monitoring, autonomous low-speed braking and automatic parking assist as solid underlying substance.

It does seem, however, that Jaguar put major effort into ensuring the base XE lives up to its Prestige namesake by strategically – if not downright surgically – placing the most effective bells and whistles in areas of most benefit. Most notably in design, finishes and textures. In the XE, impact is everything – and its execution is, for the most part, successful.

In exterior design, the XE’s impact centres on shape, those HID bi-xenon headlights and lashings of chrome – the latter seemingly following the brief of “whatever C-Class has got, add a bit more”, particularly around the side window trim. The styling robs the XF unapologetically, looks menacing nose on – particularly in another car’s rear-view mirror – and suitably upmarket, though it does appear as if everything forward of the B-pillar received a more intensive and aggressive design brief than the rear of the vehicle.

Regardless of personal stance on door count, the XE is, by definition of design tradition, a coupe. And that sloped roofline behind the first row, while certainly imparting suitable sportiness, particularly viewed in profile, certainly presents a few practicality shortcomings when it comes to second-row accommodation. Shortcomings (which I’ll touch upon shortly) that aren’t initially noticeable if you’re blindsided by the XE’s blockbuster interior design.

Published: Wednesday, September 30, 2015

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