Jaguar XE review: Not what you’d expect from an executive saloon
Apps and connectivity 3/5
When it comes to connectivity, the Jaguar XE doesn’t excel. The model I tested had no CD player and no SD card slot, but there was Bluetooth, one USB socket and an AUX input for old-school wired connection. Again, while those are sufficient for most eventualities, I’d expect much more from a car at this price, particularly when the Golf GTE includes all those features and more for less than £30,000.
However, the Jaguar XE I’ve tested here does come with a Wi-Fi Hotspot, a £300 option that lets up to eight people connect to the internet. The car gets its connection through a roof-mounted aerial, but it’s limited to 3G, so speeds aren’t great.
Pairing the Jaguar with my smartphone was an easy process, but browsing music wasn’t as smooth or rich an experience as I’d hoped for. When using an iPhone and Apple Music, album art wasn’t displayed, with the system opting for a generic ‘Bluetooth’ picture. Worse still, crazy lag times made browsing artists and tracks extremely cumbersome.
The Jaguar’s Phone system is much the same. Once paired, the XE’s system gives you the option to browse through your phone’s contacts or your most recent calls, and the Jaguar also provides a large touchscreen keypad for dialling numbers directly. The only catch? The XE’s phone app suffers from the same laggy performance as the rest of the system. Interestingly, Jaguar doesn’t offer a speed dial option, but the system does work with voice control.
This lag really does seem to creep into every operation, and it’s shame because the XE really has a lot to offer. For one, Jaguar’s InControl Remote app lets you check the status and location of your car, and even pre-condition the cabin temperature before you get in. If you’ve forgotten where you parked, you can also trigger the XE to give a flash and beep.
In addition, Jaguar has developed an entire ecosystem in the form of InControl Apps. Simply put, these apps allow you to connect your smartphone to your car, and although the app itself looks extremely basic, it has a lot of potential. The InControl system lets you access apps such as a podcast aggregator called Stitcher, and Parkopedia, an app that helps you find parking spaces.
Sat nav 2/5
Initial impressions of the Jaguar’s mapping services are good; 3D buildings give you a better idea of where you are, and the Jaguar delivers directions via the main screen and a colour screen between the dials in a timely manner. Speed limit notifications keep you on the right side of the law, while clear, prompt vocal guidelines take the stress out of city driving.
The XE’s sat nav also supports waypoints and POI searches, and you can tailor your routes to find toll-free routes. As for route planning, it’s pretty strong here, too. On my test routes it delivered similar results to Google Maps, which is good going.
However, entering a new destination is laborious. Entering a journey requires you to go over every aspect of the address in turn – so you’ll need to enter a country, postcode, town and street manually every time – and the system struggles to sort through your available choices at every hurdle.
More problems surface if you decide to go off piste and explore the map by zooming and panning. It’s cripplingly slow and sluggish to respond. In the Vine below, you can see just how long it takes for the system to detect my inputs and load the map.
Although navigating through music wasn’t the most pleasant experience, the Jaguar did re-create it in style. With the equaliser off, the car’s 80W system provided ample amounts of low-end punch and solid-sounding mid-range, and bass-heavy tracks pounded out with authority.
The Jaguar XE’s sound system couldn’t handle the lowest of frequencies, and it also appeared to struggle with very high ones, straying towards harshness instead of the crystal-clear, but cabin quality was excellent. Even at top volume, I was pleased to find very few annoying rattles or buzzing sounds. The only noises came from forward of the steering wheel, and only then at uncomfortably high volumes.
I tested the 80W sound system fitted as standard across the XE range, but for those more interested in audio, Jaguar offers a hi-fi spec 380W Digital Surround Sound System from Meridian, which costs an extra £500. If you’re feeling particularly flush, Jaguar also offers an 825W Digital Surround Sound System with 17 speakers, also from Meridian, but that will set you back £2,000.
The Jaguar XE is a great-looking car with a sumptuous interior, and even things like the gear selector exude a premium feel. But as far as the tech goes, the model we tested is bit of a missed opportunity. The 3G hotspot, lane departure warnings and blind spot indicators are all handy, and the parking system works well (although I’d expect semi-autonomous parking on a car in this price bracket).
There’s also a good helping of standard safety and driver assistance aids and a good selection of high-tech features such as adaptive speed limiter as standard, but the standard InControl Touch system in the Jaguar we tested was crippled by sluggishness and unresponsiveness.
In fact, lag plagues almost every aspect of the Jaguar’s infotainment system, from music browsing to satnav address entry and map browsing. And whether it’s giving up on picking the song you want, or being unable to find a new route before the traffic lights go green, the Jaguar’s poor performance has a knock-on effect throughout.
The result? The car is much less enjoyable to drive overall than it would be otherwise. If you’re looking at the Jaguar XE, we strongly suggest upgrading to the superior InControl Touch Pro head unit. Although it costs around £600 to upgrade, depending on the model you buy, it appears to be a far more natural fit for the XE’s premium interior and drive.
If you’re looking at other cars in the same price bracket, I’d recommend factoring in the upgrade cost as a must. In its standard form, the Jaguar’s InControl Touch infotainment system lags well behind.