Latest engines and crucial cabin overhaul for Jaguar's saloon contenders
By Sam Sheehan / Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Jaguar is bidding to keep its core models fresh in the face of new competition with the significantly revamped XF and XE. Following the just-updated F-Pace, the 2021-spec saloons each get the latest Pivi Pro cabin technology inside higher grade cabins, and earn a new mild hybrid diesel in the latest engine lineup. The XF finally swaps its characterful V6 range-topper for a 2.0-litre petrol, but thanks to the four-pot's tougher internals and the latest in turbo technology, it has the same peak output of 300hp.
The same four-pot heads the refreshed XE range as well, meaning there’s no straight-six replacement for the old XE S and its much-missed 380hp V6 powerplant. Boo. Peak performance is decent in the 300hp 2.0, though, with the 0-60mph dash taking 5.6 seconds in the XE and 5.8 seconds in the XF. Still, the emphasis is clearly on efficiency, and that’s best illustrated by the introduction of identical mild hybrid diesels. Using JLR’s Ingenium 2.0-litre oil burner and a starter generator, the 204hp setup is capable of up to 58.5mpg and as little as 127g/km of CO2.
As for the third and final offering, it’s a more conventional 250hp version of the four-pot petrol, which, like all of the other motors, comes mated exclusively to an eight-speed auto. However,unlike the other two, it’s rear-wheel drive no matter the trim. Those wanting maximum traction can get all-wheel drive versions of the 300hp XE and XF, while the MHEV diesel version of the latter also gets both driveline options. Comprende?
Where it gets a bit confusing is in sprint times; the quickest of the bunch are obviously the AWD 300hp cars. But with the diesel, the rear-drive XF is quicker than its all-wheel drive alternative by two tenths, at 7.3 seconds to 60mph. Presumably, it’s to do with the added weight of a front-driven axle and the less performance-focussed delivery of a mild hybrid. It certainly suggests a more laid-back demeanour with the addition of new noise cancelling cabin technology.
It seems the XF in particular has taken the biggest step forward in interior quality, with JLR’s very latest architecture shoehorned into the aluminium bodied X260 along with much plusher materials. PH was shown a 2021 XF’s cabin recently and the softer seat cushions, much tidier dash design and plethora of new design details really do lift the ambience, as does the addition of an 11.4-inch curved touchscreen, sharp digital instrument cluster and soft-touch leathers. The XF also gets a new two-tone steering wheel, 3D leaper perforations on the seats and the same cricket ball-style stitching as the F-Pace.
The XE, too, has received some changes, with a 10-inch touchscreen embedded into the dash alongside the new Pivi Pro software and an optional lower touchscreen for the ancillaries. The setup is not as visually impressive as the curved display of the XF and F-Pace, but when specced with the digital instrument cluster, it means the XE cabin has about as much screen surface area as you could reasonably ask for in a car of this size. Of course its seating position and compelling handling are the real boon of Jaguar's mostly aluminium four-door. None of that’s set to change with the revamped model.
Same goes for the updated XF, which in both saloon and Sportbrake bodystyes retain double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension setups, alongside claims of near 50:50 weight distribution. Both saloons receive altered exteriors including new LED lighting and wider front grilles, but their looks are tweaked rather than transformed. Compared to the increasingly brash competition, both remain refreshingly understated. Particularly when dressed in HSE trim, and in the new Portofino Blue that’s being added to the colour palette. Buyers can also choose a darker shade of British Racing Green for 2021.
On that note, orders for both updated saloons are being taken now, with prices for the XE starting at £29,635 for the 250hp petrol, £30,205 for the MHEV and £36,035 for the 300hp range-topper. The price order shuffles a bit for the XF, so the same variants cost from £33,935, £32,585 and £39,255 respectively – or, if you prefer estates, the XF Sportbrake opens from £35,990. In pricing terms, it means the whole Jag saloon line-up continues to rub shoulders with the nearest German rivals, which is obviously key to their ongoing competitiveness. In a few weeks we'll know if that goes for the driving, too.
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