By on May 27, 2020

2020 Jaguar XE P250 S

2020 Jaguar XE P250 S Fast Facts

2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (247 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 269 lb-ft @ 1,300-4,500 rpm)

Eight-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive

25 city / 34 highway / 28 combined (EPA Estimated Rating, MPG)

N/A city, N/A highway, N/A combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $39,900 (U.S) / N/A (Canada)

As Tested: $55,940 (U.S.) / N/A (Canada)

Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States and N/A for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared. Because the XE is AWD only in Canada, we cannot make a direct comparison.

Ever since Jaguar launched the XE a few years ago, I’ve held high hopes for it. As much as I, like most auto journalists, dig the BMW 3 Series, I’ve always pined for more compact luxury sport sedan competition.

Mercedes has the C-Class, sure, and Lexus’ IS has often been a solid challenger, especially in certain trims. But the more the merrier, I say, and this particular Jag had a chance at contention.

At least, that was my thought based on a limited drive at a media event, although I didn’t get a great bead on handling, since this mini-junket took place near downtown Chicago. I do remember thinking the interior design, especially the gauges, looked old and tacky – too old and tacky for a luxury vehicle, even one that’s relatively affordable.

Fast-forward a bit. The XE’s insides have been updated and modernized, and the powertrain lineup has been enhanced. I finally had my hands on one for a week, instead of 20 minutes, and I was curious to see where the XE fit in the luxury sport-compact sedan class.

2020 Jaguar XE P250 S

We don’t have the resources for instrumented testing here at TTAC, unfortunately, but I can report that on public roads, the XE performs well. It’s swift to accelerate, sharp to handle, and the ride is sports-car stiff. It does flirt with the harsh side of the line.

[Get new and used Jaguar XE pricing here!]

It felt a tad lighter on its feet than the all-wheel-drive 330i xDrive I’d driven previously, no doubt in part because my XE tester was rear-drive. Indeed, the XE is lighter than both the rear-wheel and all-wheel-drive 330i. Gee-whiz electronics involving the various drive modes no doubt helped, and yes, Dynamic mode is more fun. Oh, by the way, you Canuck readers can only get the XE with AWD.

I was having a hard time finding fault with the XE, even with the base engine – a 2.0-liter turbo four that makes 247 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic gets the power to the rear wheels.

The Jag even looks sleek and sexy, a real head-turner, even in grey. Jag has built a winner, I thought.

2020 Jaguar XE P250 S

Then my family ruined the buzz.

See, this was pre-pandemic times, and I had to drive my parents across town. Along with some stuff. At that point, I realized how cramped the rear seat and relatively low on space the trunk is.

That’s a problem, because sports sedans, even compact ones, still have sedan in the name. Buyers have kids, and pets, and in-laws, and friends to haul around. As well as the stuff we all accumulate in modern life. Pet carriers, car seats, groceries, luggage, the usual. Jaguar designers seem to have been so focused on making a good driver’s car that they forgot about the passengers. It’s not just a seating issue, as the cargo space is less than what BMW offers.

The numbers, on paper, are close, at least when it comes to rear-seat room, but that didn’t seem to help in the real world. To be fair, I didn’t have rear-seat passengers with the last 330i I drove, but it did feel a bit roomier when I parked my tall and overweight frame back there to take pics.

At least the interior is modernized, bearing the highly digital experience that has become familiar across JLR’s lineup over the past few years. A well-integrated infotainment screen sits on top of a mostly digital HVAC display, with two big knobs for temperature adjustments and a volume knob being the only knobs in sight. It’s a good look, and not terribly difficult to learn, but I do wonder how expensive repairs will be once the warranty expires.

2020 Jaguar XE P250 S

The gauges are also digital, and the steering wheel buttons are haptic touch and light up only when needed. It’s a bit corny, but it works, aesthetically. Again, I do have concerns about future repair bills. And not just because of the history of electronics and British cars.

It’s a pretty little thing, with sloping, rounded lines and a minimalism that keeps things simple. It’s a cliché to talk about Jaguar sports cars looking like jungle cats on their haunches, ready to pounce, but it sort of fits here. It’s a sleeker look than what the 3 Series offers, and I rather like the 3 Series’ classic lines. More importantly, it doesn’t go too far in the direction of bro racer, as the IS arguably does.

My test vehicle came with standard features such as 18-inch wheels, torque vectoring, moonroof, leather seats, dual-zone climate control, push-button start, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, USB, lane-keep assist, and driver-condition monitor.

A Technology Pack ($1,950) added a rearview-mirror camera, head-up display, and wireless cell-phone charging. A Drive Pack ($1,700) brought forth blind-spot assist, adaptive cruise control, and high-speed emergency braking, while a Dynamic Handling Pack ($1,615) tacked on a rear spoiler, adaptive and configurable dynamics, 350-millimeter front brakes and red brake calipers. Another package ($1,365) added navigation, Wi-Fi, traffic-sign recognition, and adaptive speed limiter. Keyless entry and a power gesture-activated trunk were part of yet another package ($1,200), along with an electronically adjustable steering column and extra power outlets. Yet another option pack included a heated steering wheel ($620), and a different package added parking aids such as a 360-degree camera ($600).

Other options included black exterior styling touches ($375), satellite radio ($300), premium audio ($800), 19-inch wheels ($1,400), power-folding mirrors ($360), the grey paint job ($610), heated and cooled front seats ($1,500), and uplevel leather seats ($650)

All told the car cost $55,940, including the $995 destination fee.

2020 Jaguar XE P250 S

The XE is a sleek sporty sedan that does a lot right, and could serve as an alternative to the usual suspects – unless you need to haul rear-seat passengers or a lot of cargo often. It’s a good car with one big flaw.

Flawed as it may be, its on-road dynamics make up for it quite a bit. Perhaps not enough to move this Jag into serious contention for compact-luxury class supremacy, but it’s not an also-ran, either.

That will be good enough for some. Which may be good enough for Jaguar.

[Images © 2020 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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43 Comments on “2020 Jaguar XE P250 S Review – Close, but No Cigar...”


  • avatar
    Garrett

    Here’s the biggest problem with this car: the Alfa Romeo Giulia.

    Pricing is similar, both in terms of real world and MSRP.

    Giulia has better styling, handling, and power.

    If you’re going to be a non-German luxury car, you need to have something special to offer. Unfortunately, there isn’t really anything here that elevates it above an Alfa or Volvo offering.

    Shame.

    If they would at least cram an I6 in it, or have some really compelling styling…well, that would do something.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      What’s more reliable, though?

      • 0 avatar
        MPAVictoria

        Given as I purchased a steeply discounted dealer loaner version of this car about 6 months ago I am REALLY hoping it will be the Jag.

      • 0 avatar
        Garrett

        They both have a warranty, so what does it really matter if you are buying new?

        Neither will leave you stranded.

        • 0 avatar
          blppt

          “Neither will leave you stranded.”

          Not quite—IIRC, a major car magazine’s long termer QF crapped out on them and left them stranded. Plus another one crapped out on them before they could complete testing.

          It seems like the 2.0T models are more reliable though (which would be the model to compare this Jag to)—all the disaster stories i’ve heard about the Giulias have been the TT V-6 models.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @Tim:
        Reliability battle – Jag vs. Alfa?

        (Scratches head)

        You got me…it’s kind of like pitting “Catwoman” against “Battlefield Earth” for the Worst Picture of All Time award.

      • 0 avatar

        “What’s more reliable, though?”

        Camry, Toyota?

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      Exactly what I was thinking, Alfa does better with the “if your willing to gamble on reliability” buy it not BMW. Though with BMW reliability Alfa has a good chance of being the more reliable choice.

      • 0 avatar
        Tstag

        The problem with the Alfa is the Switchgear which is a generation behind the Jag.

        If Jaguar wanted to stay in this class I think they’d probably fix all the things they got wrong in this vat, like the slightly too generic styling, legroom and I’d bet they get the interior right from day one.

        The problem for Jaguar and Alfa is that there are fewer and fewer people who want cars like this and not enough people buying the XE and Giulia to give them an incentive to have another go.

        In short both Alfa and Jaguar needed to catch a break to justify spending more on this class. They can’t so will focus in SUVs.

        In a sense I can’t help but feel as a car enthusiast it’s partly our fault for not giving the new guys to this class a chance.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Well, as you basically say, neither Jaguar nor Alfa Romeo really has the money to compete with the German brands. A facelifted A4 is due any day now, the C-Class is well-regarded, with a new generation on the horizon that’s sure to be even better, and the latest 3 Series is amazing.

          Meanwhile, the Giulia, S60 and XE are dead in the water, the Q50 and likely the CT4 are doomed to be also-rans, and Lexus is trying to eke a couple more years out of the aging IS.

          The one I’d watch is the G70. It’s become the darling of the auto journalists, which may be enough to push it into the upper echelons of this class. That said, I think it will require a significant investment in the interior electronics come facelift time, if they want to stay on pace.

          • 0 avatar
            Garrett

            Having come from a 3-series, the Giulia is far superior in terms of driving experience.

            Frankly, BMW is dead to me from the “I want an engaging car that makes me forget just how much money I’m wasting on a car” standpoint.

            The Giulia’s biggest problem is the Germans. It’s the Stelvio.

            I literally was going to buy the Giulia, drove a Stelvio afterwards, and there was literally no SUV penalty that I could detect. That included me pushing them both hard in the turns, to the point where the guy from the dealership commented that nobody else drove quite as aggressively on a test drive there.

            If I was going the QV route, Giulia vs Stelvio becomes a different sort of exercise, but for the “base” 280hp engine, both are fantastic driving experiences. One of them simply has a lot more room without a perceived penalty in speed and handling.

            Meanwhile, I’ve driven a Mercedes GLC as a loaner, and it was horribly cheap feeling compared to the Alfa. The paddle shifters sucked (with automatic default back to regular shifting), the turn stalk rattled, it felt pokey, steering was bland, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            Tstag

            I’d like to know how many cars in this class Lexus shift globally. In Europe they sell next to nothing so I suspect they are in the same boat as Jaguar and Alfa.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          Switchgear a generation behind? Sounds like a feature, not a bug.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Weirdly enough, Jaguar/Land Rover does have their I6/MHEV Ingenium powertrain, but they’ve decided not to stick this in the facelifted XE for some reason, even though prior years offered a supercharged V6.

    • 0 avatar
      redapple

      $60,000 (or more with taxes and fees)
      This Jag has long list of options.
      Rip off Special i guess. Lots of nickle and diming me to death.
      $300 for a SiriusXM radio? Really?
      I m no GM fan but my base 2012 Equinox had a free SiriusXM radio.

      • 0 avatar
        MPAVictoria

        Annoying as this is unfortunately all of the European luxury makes do this.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        I drove a FIAT 124 today. It was part of a 300ish dollar package.

        But yeah, it was free in my Fiesta ST.

        Incidentally the FIAT/Alfa dealer has given up. All of the FIATS and Alfas were shoved in a corner (not many) and looked like they’d been under a tree for some time…they had that crud when you opened the trunk and hood and the showroom had a Hellcat and a used Mercedes…no products from the dealers actual brand. Still it was like 5 grand off the 124 without even trying (think those are current rebates)

        • 0 avatar
          bobbysirhan

          The Miata’s engine is infinitely more desirable. Five grand off the Fiat? Life’s too short.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          For some reason I was looking at new Fiatas yesterday. Yeah, those discounts are no joke. Top trim Fiats and Abarths available at the cost of a Miata Sport (the lowest trim). And the Fiatas have an actual color palette. Too bad the engine, shifter, and steering just don’t compare to the Miata.

    • 0 avatar

      Alfa Julia – better styling? I am not convinced. This Jaguar is more elegant.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    The styling is so generic. No one will say, “look a Jaguar!”. or even “nice car’. It needs to be different and pushing the envelope in a good way. The old Jags looks like Jags, even if a lot of people didn’t like that style.

    • 0 avatar
      Cactuar

      Exactly what I was thinking. It’s a generic modern design.

      I still do a double take when I see a 2008-era X-Type or XJ.
      Those were proper British sedans and had so much class.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Yeap. I have a 2004 Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas, and I love the look. The redesigned one kind of lost me, because it looks like a curvier Audi.

        • 0 avatar
          MPAVictoria

          As an XE owner I am obviously biased but I have to disagree. I think they are beautiful cars with just right proportions.

          • 0 avatar
            Garrett

            But there’s nothing “Jag” about it.

            Put a Ford or Mazda badge on the front and people wouldn’t bat an eye.

        • 0 avatar
          jkross22

          Kyree, you don’t like the new to 2010 XJ? Wow. I like the old school Jags too, but the swoopy kinda French look to the new one is tasty. And the interior design looks really good.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I completely agree with 65corvair. I saw one of these not too long ago and couldn’t figure out who made it. That should NOT happen with a Jag.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      It’s better looking in person. The grey paint isn’t as sharp as other colors, and the day I photo’d the car, the weather was quite gray, too.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    It’s the badge, for 56 large I’d be looking at something from HK to insure a little reliability

  • avatar
    gtem

    I test drove a few cars in this class, 328xi with the 2.0T, Q50 with the 3.0TT, didn’t get around to the Audi A4, as I was already bored to tears. I’m sure the actual handling limits, acceleration, etc, etc are the best they’ve ever been, but all these cars are just so sanitized with dead steering and muted and/or artificial engine sounds, it’s hard to get excited about them IMO. I’ll just keep driving our 2012 Camry 4cyl if that’s what the current state of things is. May as well get on the electric bandwagon and buy a Tesla.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Try out a Charger Scat Pack.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Ajla you’ve read my mind. Not a Scat Pack, but I’m seriously window shopping Charger R/Ts right now (’15+ to get the 8spd). Tried to justify a Challenger with “it’s got a very usable back seat and trunk” but getting kiddos in and out of the back seat every day… probably not worth it.

    • 0 avatar
      Danddd

      I would agree on your assessment. I have a 2016 3 series wagon. It was the best wagon choice IMO at the time. My wife’s ’14 V6 Accord is 90 plus percent of the 3 series capabilities, but at much better price and I have to say slightly better steering feel. With out the steering feel, more antiseptic overall and the higher prices, I just don’t get these cars anymore.

  • avatar
    MPAVictoria

    Always fun to see a car I actually own reviewed here. I purchased a pretty steeply discounted 2018 Jaguar XE 25T AWD that has been used as a loaner car about 8 months ago and so far I am pretty happy with it. Mine is kitted out pretty similarly to the car being reviewed here with a couple of interesting differences:
    1. My XE has the standard non-adaptable suspension
    2. My XE has 18 inch wheels
    3. My XE is AWD
    4. My XE is pre-facelift so no Apple Carplay and old fashioned traditional gauges.

    Basically I would agree with most of what Tim has to say in his review. The car handles really well, has plenty of power and, imo, is very attractive. The backseat and the trunk really are small for the segment but when you don’t have kids or much to haul around it doesn’t matter all that much.

    I would say that I feel like the ride in my car is actually really smooth for a sports sedan. It certainly has a better ride then the 2012 Volvo S80 it replaced. It could be that the smaller wheels and traditional suspension are making the difference.

    I choose the XE after looking at a lot of the other competitors in the segment. The C Class and the 3 Series were both too expensive with the options I wanted (even used). Additionally the XE was more fun to drive (and better looking imo). My partner vetoed the Alfa (which is too bad as I think they are beautiful cars) and the ATS. I never liked Audis much and the S60 has a really harsh ride. None of the Japanese options in this area are really competitive. I wish I had looked more closely at the G70 though….

  • avatar
    5280thinair

    These had come on the market shortly before I was shopping this segment nearly four years ago. At the time I found both the Jag’s exterior and interior to be bland and boring. Looks like they’ve done something about the interior but, unlike Tim, I still find the exterior to be too generic.

    At the time I bought an A4 as it was sportier than the C300 and much nicer inside than the 328. Also, it had CarPlay/Android Auto which some of the others didn’t have yet. The other players in this space have seen some upgrades since then so my choice might be different we’re I making it today.

    Regarding reliability, in a bit over 3 years of ownership my A4 has suffered from a few intermittent issues with the infotainment center and the parking sensors (which the dealership hasn’t been able to reproduce.) No issues that have interfered with my ability to use the car.

    Garrett above asked why care about reliability of you’re buying it new (with regards to Alfa being a competitor.) The answer, at least in my case, it’s a that I value my time and having to take the car into the dealer often is not acceptable (even with a loaner, it can be.a pain.) The Giulia’s reputation there is terrible, with cars being out of service for extended periods of time waiting for parts to be delivered from Italy.

  • avatar
    CadiDrvr

    Jaguar certainly nailed the handling part of their current lineup. I had the opportunity to drive all the current lineup, except the F-type last summer, while waiting on a part for my 2011 XF. (I purchased it new, and aside from a few annoyances has been mostly trouble free until the fuel pump control module chose to fry its circuits.)

    While the handling is certainly there, and the 2.0T Ingenium engine certainly has the power to move them, I found it be incredibly course, loud, and unrefined, certainly not what you’d expect in a luxury car. I also found the interiors to be incredibly cheap. I “forgave” the XE and E-Pace since they’re the entry level models, but the XF and F-Pace were horrible. The F-Pace was the most offensive, cheap plastics everywhere, the entire center console was “loose” and there was a rattle somewhere in the cargo area, all with 525 miles showing. YES, I tried to track down the rattle but had no success. The suedecloth headliner did nothing to dress up an interior that was otherwise populated by plastics that would make the cheapest Nissan/Toyota/Hyundai/Kia look like models from their respective luxury brands. The XF was better, in that it didn’t have any squeaks/rattles, but the material quality was again embarassing for a luxury brand. The XJ was classic Jag, and my complaints with it were that it was the short wheelbase, so it didn’t have the rear-seat tray tables, and the a/c couldn’t keep up with the southern heat/humidity.

    If I needed to replace my Jag, it certainly would NOT be with one of the current models. Fortunately mine is a garage queen and while 9 years old only has 45,000 miles.

    • 0 avatar
      MPAVictoria

      I got to say that I quite like the interior of the XE. The design is cohesive and the materials are pretty class competitive imo. Yes the lower parts of the door are hard plastic but all the places you touch are quite nice particularly the seats and the steering wheel.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Yeah I think I’d just go buy a Stinger.

    And your title has me thinking about my humidor… and watching the last episode of “GRANT” on the History Channel.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    “talk about Jaguar sports cars looking like jungle cats on their haunches, ready to pounce”…on your checkbook

  • avatar
    jkross22

    This class of car is too expensive for what they all offer. Sure they drive sporty, but so does the Accord Sport and the Jetta GLI, and those 2 do it for 15-25k less than this class AND offer more room. Kia Stinger does too for around $42k.

    You used to be able to rationalize leasing or buying one of these 10-15 years ago, but not anymore. They are now little more than fancy badges, cutesy screens and 2 day old danishes while you’re waiting for them to be fixed.

  • avatar
    Terry

    I have to tell you, I absolutely LOVE reading these articles. Each one I read one makes me enjoy my ‘19 Mazda CX-5 Signature(250 HP/310 Ft Lbs for $11k less than the underwhelming Jag. Thanks you!!!

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “P250 S”? Uh, okay.

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