Audi A4 2019 review: Black Edition
If I had a dollar for every Black Edition model that has been launched in the past few years, I'd probably have about fifty bucks.
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Jaguar’s XE is the leaping cat’s answer to a well-established trio of compact luxury sedans from the German ‘Big Three’ – Audi’s A4, the BMW 3 Series, and Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class.
Throw in the recently arrived Alfa Giulia and feature-packed Lexus IS and you’ve got yourself a six-way cage fight for supremacy in this relatively small but highly profitable part of the new car market.
All offer performance variants ranging from mild to utterly wild, and at around $80k the new XE 300 Sport hovers in the middle of that speed and equipment spectrum.
We spent a week behind the wheel to determine whether its racy aesthetics are matched by its dynamic abilities.
|Jaguar XE 2019: 30t (221kW) 300 SPORT|
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Amazingly, the Jaguar XE is fast approaching its fourth birthday and the car’s clean and restrained exterior design still turns heads.
Its macho mesh grille and gently tapered headlights combine to create a suitably snarly, feline expression and signature details like the curved LED bar in the tail-lights add a subtle tip of the hat to the all-time classic E-Type Series I.
Introduced locally in late 2018, the 300 Sport treatment brings ‘Dark Satin Grey’ elements including the grille surround, side window trims, exterior mirror caps and rear spoiler, while the inner sections of the standard 19-inch ‘Style 5031’ alloy rims are finished in ‘Satin Technical Grey’. Black 300 Sport branded front brake calipers peek through the ‘split-spoke’ design, and ‘our’ test car’s ‘Santorini Black’ finish adds an extra level of sinister appeal.
The interior is similarly refined with the latest driver information and multimedia displays subtly integrated into a simple and precise layout. Piano black surfaces along the centre console and around the ventilation controls and media screen combine with etched alloy highlights and high-quality leather to create a superior feel.
Our example featured the optional 12.3-inch digital ‘Interactive Driver Display’ screen ($670), housed under a gently curved binnacle lid and able to scroll through configurable instrument displays, nav maps, driving data, vehicle status, and more.
The 10-inch ‘Touch Pro’ colour multimedia screen in the top of the centre stack manages phone, nav, and media functions as well as vehicle settings and reversing camera vision.
The Sport 300 design treatment continues inside with yellow contrast stitching on the (300 Sport badged) steering wheel, seats, door insert, and front centre armrest. The brushed metal front treadplates are 300 Sport branded as are the front headrests.
Overall, the emphasis is on efficiency and comfort rather than over-the-top luxury. Forget walnut and Wilton carpet, this Jaguar moved on long ago.
At just under 4.7m long, close to 2.0m wide, and a touch over 1.4m tall the XE is a textbook mid-size sedan, offering plenty of room for the driver and front seat passenger as well as useable but relatively squeezy rear seat accommodation for three.
Storage in the front runs to two sizeable cupholders in the centre console, as well as a small tray in front of the rotary gearshifter, and long but thin door bins (that don’t offer room for drink bottles).
There’s also a medium-size glove box, a small lidded bin between the seats (that doubles as a centre armrest), and a drop-down sunglass holder in the overhead console.
Swapping to the back seat is something of an ordeal because the rear door aperture is tight. At a roughly average male height of 183cm I found folding myself up to get into the rear seat a trial and scrambling back out equally tedious.
Once in there, sitting behind the driver’s seat set to my position, I had adequate leg and foot room, but my noggin sat in close proximity to the headlining. Three adults across the rear would be borderline for short journeys, and an uncomfortable prospect for anything longer. There are two cupholders in the fold-down centre armrest, but the doors are storage-less.
Connectivity and power options are covered by a micro SIM slot, two USB ports, an ‘aux-in’ jack and two 12-volt outlets (one front and back). Extra 12-volt outlets in our car (one in the rear and one in the boot) adds $250 to the price.
Boot volume is average for the class at 415 litres (VDA), and our three-piece hard suitcase set (35, 68 and 105 litres) fitted in with room to spare, while the CarsGuide pram was a tighter squeeze for width.
The 40/20/40 split-fold rear seat libertes even more space, with remote release handles at the top of the boot opening simplifying the process.
A recessed storage area sits behind the passenger side wheel tub, there are cargo tie-down rings included, and bag hooks either side is a thoughtful touch.
A space saver spare sits under the boot floor, and if you’re into towing the XE 300 Sport is a no-go zone. The only tow-bar available to Jaguar in Australia is the UK’s electrically-deployed unit, which isn’t suitable for rating in this market. The E-Pace and F-Pace SUVs are tow-friendly, though.
At $79,400 before on-road costs the XE 300 Sport puts a solid price gap on its five main competitors - Alfa Romeo’s Giulia Veloce ($71,895), the Audi A4 45 Quattro Sport S Line ($74,300), BMW’s 330i M-Sport ($73,500), the Mercedes-Benz C 300 AMG Line ($73,390), and Lexus IS F Sport ($73,251).
So, it’s fair to expect a generous basket of fruit to be included in that price, and this XE’s standard equipment list is suitably lengthy.
We’ll cover safety tech separately (below) but the features roll call includes, perforated grained leather upholstery (with yellow contrast stitching), ‘soft grain’ leather-trimmed steering wheel (300 Sport branded), dual-zone climate control air, 10-way electrically-adjustable sports front seats (with four-way electric lumbar adjust and memory on the driver’s side), plus keyless entry and start.
You can also expect, green tinted glass, auto-dimming, power fold, heated door mirrors (with memory and approach lights), rain-sensing wipers, cruise control (and speed limiter), 19-inch alloy wheels, LED DRLs, ambient interior lighting, metal finish pedals, and Meridian 11-speaker/380W audio, controlled via the 10-inch Touch Pro screen, as is the ‘Navigation Pro’ sat nav.
At a close to $80k ask it would be nice to see LED headlights rather than xenons, Apple CarPlay is optional (as part of a ‘Smart Phone pack’), and we reckon it’s fair to expect digital radio, optionally fitted to our car at a cost of $580.
The XE 300 Sport’s all-alloy 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine is a member of Jaguar Land Rover’s modular ‘Ingenium’ engine family (based on multiples of a consistent 500cc cylinder design).
Featuring variable valve timing and lift (on the inlet side) it produces 221kW at 5500rpm and 400Nm between 1500-4500rpm and sends drive to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Claimed fuel economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is 6.7L/100km, the car emitting 153g/km of CO2 in the process.
Over roughly 300km of city, suburban and freeway running we recorded an average of 10.8L/100km (at the bowser), and you’ll need 63 litres of 95 RON premium unleaded to fill the tank.
We have to admit to only occasional use of ‘Eco Mode’, which decreases throttle sensitivity and shifts to more economical engine mapping, as well as reducing the energy demanded by the climate control and audio systems. And mea culpa, our result was further influenced by inconsistent engagement of the ‘Intelligent Start/Stop system’.
Apply a Sport badge to a Jag and expectations for a pulse-quickening experience are instantly set. And while the XE 300 Sport is quick rather than eye-wideningly fast, it’s definitely an entertaining drive.
The 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo engine is unchanged from other XE models available with the same drivetrain (Prestige, R-Sport and Portfolio) and claimed 0-100km/h acceleration is 5.9sec.
That’s hardly hanging around for a 1.6-tonne sedan, and with all 400Nm of maximum torque available between 1500-4500rpm mid-range urge is satisfyingly strong.
The eight-speed (torque converter) auto is ultra-smooth, with rapid manual changes available via classy, wheel-mounted brushed-alloy paddles. And speaking of the steering wheel, the grippy, leather trimmed sports version fitted to the 300 Sport is brilliant.
The ‘JaguarDrive Control’ system offers a switch between ‘Sport’, ‘Eco’ and ‘Rain/Ice/Snow’ modes, and it’s important to point out that our test car was optioned with ‘Configurable Dynamics’ ($1210) which allows fine-tuning of the gearshift calibration, throttle response, and steering weight, with ‘Adaptive Dynamics’ ($1950) adding continuously variable dampers to the mix.
Even in the standard setting the speed proportional, electrically-assisted steering delivers good road feel, the sports front seats combine firm location with long-distance comfort, and the Dunlop Sport Maxx RT rubber (225/40 front – 255/35 rear) grips hard under quick cornering pressure. A switch to the ‘Dynamic’ setting adds an enjoyable extra edge.
Standard torque vectoring (by braking) helps maintain balance and cornering direction if you really have the bit between your teeth, and braking (with four-piston calipers on 350mm rotors at the front) is progressive and reassuringly strong.
Ergonomics are well thought through, all around visibility is fine, and the Meridian sound system cranks.
3 years / 100,000 km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The XE 300 Sport scored a maximum five stars when it was assessed by ANCAP in 2015, and is loaded with a solid array of active crash avoidance tech including ABS, EBA, AEB, dynamic stability control, blind spot monitor and ‘Reverse Traffic Detection’, lane departure warning, a tyre pressure monitoring system, hill launch assist, ‘All Surface Progress Control’ (low-speed, low-traction surface cruise control), reversing camera, a 360-degree view ‘Parking Aid’ system, and ‘Park Assist’ (parallel, perpendicular and park exit functions).
Worth noting, though that the ‘Active Safety Pack’ fitted to our test car (inc. ‘Blind Spot Assist’ and Reverse Traffic Detection, Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist, Lane Keep Assist and Driver Condition Monitor) is a $2920 option.
If all the above isn’t enough to avoid an impact, passive safety includes a ‘Pedestrian Contact Sensing Bonnet System’ (helps absorb the impact for pedestrians and keep them away from engine and suspension components). Plus, front airbags (with passenger seat occupant detector), front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags.
There are three baby capsule/child seat top tether points across the back seat, with ISOFIX anchors on the two outer positions.
The XE 300 Sport is covered by Jaguar’s three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, with Australia-wide roadside assistance provided for the duration. Not bad, but not brilliant when you consider numerous volume brands have moved to five years/unlimited km, with several now at seven years/unlimited km.
A ‘Paint Surface Warranty’ applies for three years from purchase (regardless of distance traveled), and ‘Corrosion Protection Warranty’ cover applies for six years (regardless of distance and any change in vehicle ownership).
Servicing is recommended every 12 months/26,000km and pricing is capped at $1500 over five years/130,000km, which is a super-sweet deal in this part of the market.
|20d (132kW) LANDMARK EDITION||2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$70,590||2019 Jaguar XE 2019 20d (132kW) LANDMARK EDITION Pricing and Specs|
|20d (132kW) PRESTIGE||2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$62,990||2019 Jaguar XE 2019 20d (132kW) PRESTIGE Pricing and Specs|
|20d (132kW) PRESTIGE||2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$65,170||2019 Jaguar XE 2019 20d (132kW) PRESTIGE Pricing and Specs|
|20d (132kW) R-SPORT||2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$64,400||2019 Jaguar XE 2019 20d (132kW) R-SPORT Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||8|
“Jaguar’s XE 300 Sport combines sleek looks with energetic performance and quality dynamics. At close to $80k before on-roads it’s all the money in a competitive set full of quality options, but offers a charismatic alternative to the usual German suspects.”
Could the XE 300 Sport tempt you into a mid-size Jag? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.