New Jaguar XE P250 2021 review

The Jaguar XE compact executive saloon gets tech tweaks ahead of its swansong

  • 4.0 out of 5

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    The updated XE really feels like a desirable product on every front, yet in just a few years Jaguar will axe it, with a compact executive saloon not likely to return to the line-up as the British brand turns to full electrification. Still, if you want to buy a slice of what will soon become a chapter in Jaguar’s history, there are few models out there as good as this. The updated infotainment for this 2021 version of the XE plays a big part in that.

    The world waited a while for a properly competitive baby Jaguar. It received it in 2015 in the form of the XE, but a decade after its launch Jaguar’s compact executive saloon will be removed from sale as the British manufacturer’s range becomes all-electric from 2025.

    However, that’s not stopped Jag tweaking the formula in the meantime, and following the XE’s facelift a few years ago it’s been updated once again, with new infotainment, featuring the latest connectivity technology and over-the-air software updates, plus a revised powertrain line-up.

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    • We’ll start with the former because it’s an area that this XE’s predecessor needed some improvement in. The new Pivi Pro system is much snappier in its responses, lagging less behind your inputs. But you also expect technology from a car like this, and it’s the upgraded 10-inch touchscreen set-up that helps the revised Jaguar in this respect. It features not only built-in satellite navigation, but Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity too. It’s just a slicker system that lifts the XE’s nicely appointed cabin.

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      The leather is soft, the metal finishers feel expensive and while build quality isn’t on a par with an Audi A4’s or even the BMW 3 Series’, it’s solid enough. The climate control panel and a few other details, such as the gearlever and the digital dashboard, give it a premium look and feel though.

      There are lots of features too, with full LED headlights, 19-inch alloy wheels, electrically adjustable leather sports seats, a 3D surround-view camera, cruise control, plus a good level of safety and driver- assistance tech that you’d expect from a sporty compact executive saloon.

      One area where the XE has never been lacking is in its dynamic ability. The steering has superb precision, and the Jaguar’s new-shape steering wheel is sporty and feels nice in your palms.

      The front axle darts towards apexes, while the XE’s chassis offers the kind of composure that inspires confidence to push it harder. In most circumstances and unless you push it particularly hard, it always seems to have something in reserve, and the opportunities where you can do the latter are few and far between. You might not want to either, because although the 247bhp P250 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine is punchy enough – helped more by its 365Nm of torque – it can sound a bit raucous at higher revs.

      The gearbox mostly keeps the revs down and the noise therefore at bay, but if you’re aggressive with your inputs, stabbing at the throttle, the transmission does kick down and holds on to gears. The metal shift paddles are sweet to use though, and the gearbox switches smoothly from one ratio to the next, focusing on a syrupy change rather than a rapid snap between gears.

      Despite its ability to change direction with precision and engage its driver, the XE doesn’t sacrifice comfort, even on its larger alloys. They do create some noticeable roar on the motorway, but the suspension smothers bumps well at higher speed and keeps things calm on the move.

      This MY21 update adds the option of a mild-hybrid powertrain with the 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine, but this P250 doesn’t benefit from any form of electrification.

      It’s shame, because a slight boost to efficiency to reduce the Jag’s 187g/km CO2 output would help further when it comes to its company car tax band rating, an important point for a car in this class when diesels are penalised quite heavily, MHEV or not. However, it would have to come down a long way to drop below the highest 37 per cent Benefit-in-Kind rating.

      At least the XE is as stylish as ever, with the design updates a few years ago adding to its appeal, especially in sporty R-Dynamic trim. However, herein lies the conundrum, because the XE is not long for this world and the reasons to buy a combustion-engined Jaguar are few and far between given the firm’s future plans for all-electric power.

      Model: Jaguar XE P250 R-Dynamic Black
      Price: £33,010
      Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol
      Power/torque: 247bhp/365Nm
      Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive 
      0-62mph: 6.7 seconds
      Top speed: 150mph
      Economy/CO2: 35.6mpg/187g/km
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