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2021 Jaguar XE pricing and specs detailed: Surprise changes as BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class rival scores AWD to lure in buyers

Jaguar hopes the 2021 XE's vastly improved multimedia, keener pricing and new AWD configuration will help it win new buyers.

Jaguar has sharpened the pricing as well as the appeal of the XE premium mid-sized sports sedan for 2021, as it attempts to reel in the big-selling Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3 Series.

The changes run deeper than expected given the current Series II has only been available for just over one year, with significant equipment and specification upgrades, all-wheel drive (AWD) for the first time in the series’ five-year history in Australia, and the addition of a new third grade.

Right now, only the price of the freshly introduced R-Dynamic Black from $69,990 driveaway has been confirmed, with the costs of the R-Dynamic SE and R-Dynamic HSE flagship set to be revealed by December.

As before, all MY21 XEs are in R-Dynamic P300 specification, with Australian deliveries planned from next February.

Based on the SE, the Black ushers in de-chromed blacked-out exterior trim, grade-specific gloss-black 19-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels, red brake callipers, Gloss Black Veneer cabin appliques, metallic pedals and a Meridian sound system. Colour choices are limited to Yulong white, Firenze red, Blue Fire blue, Eiger grey and Santorini black.

Jaguar reckons this amounts to nearly $6000 of extra kit over the outgoing $65,670 R-Dynamic SE before factoring in on-road costs, as well as AWD, dramatically improving the British-built sedan’s equation.

Leading the changes across the range is the new ‘Pivi Pro’ dual-sim multimedia system, bringing dramatically faster responses, a more-contemporary interface offering broader capabilities including multi-device connectivity yet with simpler functionality, and over-the-air software updates. There is also signal-booster technology within the 15W wireless device charger, a more-versatile ‘Activity Key’ wrist watch that allows the driver to leave the normal key fob at home, and a greatly improved cabin air filtration, ionisation and anti-allergen system.

All are possible because the XE – like the recently revealed F-Pace SUV, XF large sedan, Range Rover Evoque Series II and Land Rover Discovery Sport Series II – switches to Jaguar Land Rover’s revamped electrical set-up, substantially upping the car’s ‘brain power’ to deal with extra features and their subsequent increased loads.

The latter also ushers in improved – and now wholly standardised – active safety, so all models gain the latest, broader-reaching adaptive cruise control technology, as well as lane-keep assist, a Rear Collision Monitor and surround-view cameras.

While true XE trainspotters should be able to pick the MY21 thanks to the redesigned 12.3-inch touchscreen, reshaped front seats (for better support) and fresh-look steering wheel with metal paddle-shifters, there is little else to differentiate new from old.

The redesigned 12.3-inch touchscreen features the new ‘Pivi Pro’ dual-sim multimedia system. The redesigned 12.3-inch touchscreen features the new ‘Pivi Pro’ dual-sim multimedia system.

Even though it now drives all four wheels, the continuing 221kW/400Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol Ingenium engine/ZF-supplied eight-speed torque-converter automatic powertrain combination is no slower than in its rear-drive application, hitting 100km/h in 6.5 seconds on its way to a 250km/h top speed.  

According to JLR public relations manager, James Scrimshaw, the Black’s styling and equipment upgrades should see it become the most popular of the 2021 XE range.

"The update shows our strong commitment to the XE,” he told CarsGuide. “We’re expecting the new Black to take the lion’s share of sales."

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