LIGHT TOUCH IS RIGHT ON THE MONEY

the face lifts

TONY O’KANE

JAGUAR XE

THERE WAS never really anything wrong with the way the Jaguar XE drove – praise for its handling was almost universal. Good thing, then, that Jaguar has done precisely nothing to the mechanical package and suspension of its facelifted mid-size sedan.

There was less love for what was on the inside, namely a cabin that lagged behind the competition for design and ergonomics. A crowded model line-up didn’t help, what with five grades spread across five powertrains making for a complex shopping experience.

Model Jaguar XE P300 R-Dynamic SE

Engine 1997cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo

Max power 221kW @ 5500rpm

Max torque 400Nm @ 1500-4500rpm

Transmission 8-speed automatic

Weight 1523kg

0-100km/h 5.9sec (claimed)

Economy 6.7L/100km

Price $65,670

On sale August

That’ll all be in the past come August, though, when the reworked XE arrives in Australia in a super-simple two-model line-up, bringing with it a cosmetically enhanced snout and bum and a modernised cabin fit-out. Only one powertrain will be on offer, too, the 221kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo four formerly known as the 30t engine, now rechristened the P300. Yep, the lower- output petrols, diesels and, sadly, the yowling supercharged 3.0-litre V6 have all been shelved for our market.

Sad news for six-pot lovers, but the value offering should make up for it. The sporty-looking R-Dynamic trim is standard-issue now, in either the entrylevel XE P300 R-Dynamic SE at $65,670 or the top-shelf XE P300 R-Dynamic HSE at $71,940.

Your extra spend for the HSE gets you greater choice of upholstery and seating, plus niceties like an electrically adjustable steering column, 16-way adjustable heated front seats (versus 12-way in the SE) and 19-inch alloys as standard in lieu of the SE’s 18s.

An 11-speaker sound system is also standard on HSE, and comes coupled to Jaguar’s snazzy Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, which stacks two 10-inch screens on the centre console. The SE gets the same software but a single 10-inch screen. The HSE also gets blind-spot assist, adaptive cruise control and high-speed AEB as standard.

The updated XE continues to deliver dynamically, with incisive steering and an authoritative front-end that makes it one of the better corner-carvers in the segment. Ride quality, even on the 20-inch wheels of the cars we tested, is also surprisingly good, though predictably brittle on urban speed bumps and the like.

It’s definitely easier to live with, however. Those troublesome doubledecker door cards have been binned for a more conventional arrangement of grab handles and switch blocks.

The pistol-grip gear selector replaces the nonsensical rotary dial, and the infotainment upgrade modernises the XE’s interior a great deal – though not enough to put it on even pegging with BMW or Audi rivals.

The freshened XE’s most compelling attribute is value for money. For the outlay, the power, drive and equipment delivered by the P300 XE range is hard to equal.

TONY O’KANE

the face lifts

Was it worth all the effort?

VOLVO XC90

WHAT’S NEW?

Apart from the usual stuff like revised grille and new-look wheels, the Swedish brand is promising an advanced kinetic energy recovery braking system that will be paired to existing internal combustion engines.

HAS IT WORKED?

We’ know for sure later in the year when it arrives, but the claim is for an improvement to fuel consumption of around 15 percent.

AUDI TTS

WHAT’S NEW?

More torque from the 2.0-litre turbo, for starters. Peak twist rises from 380Nm to 400Nm. Then there’ the new dual-clutch transmission, which adds a seventh ratio.

HAS IT WORKED?

Does shaving a tenth for the 0-100km/h sprint count? Fuel consumption should improve very slightly as well.

BWW 7 SERIES

WHAT’S NEW?

The reworked front end sees the grille grow by a whopping 40 percent, the interior is revised to include customiseable digital instruments, while the 4.4-litre V8 is reworked to be cleaner and more powerful.

HAS IT WORKED?

Given that the Chinese market loves big grilles, and China accounts for 40 percent of 7 Series production, you’ have to say yes. The new multimedia is good too.