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2021 Jaguar XE D180 SE R-Dynamic: Is It The Ultimate Diesel-Powered Driving Machine?

In the 80s’ and 90s’, BMW claimed the title of “The Ultimate Driving Machine” primarily because of the driving dynamics of their sports sedans, particularly the 3-series and M-badged models. These days, because of electronic traction control, torque vectoring, and other modern technology, a lot of new vehicles – not just sports sedans but even tall SUVs – can give those old BMWs a run for their money. We were surprised to find that one of the sportier sedans that we have ever driven has a (wait for it…) diesel engine under its hood.

That’s right! The British 4-door compact sports sedan that you see here is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel engine. To be more precise, our test car is a 2021 Jaguar XE D180 SE R-Dynamic with an innovative Ingenium double overhead camshaft (DOHC) 16-valve turbodiesel that produces 340 Newton-meters of torque to catapult it from zero to 100 km/h in 8.1 seconds and makes 197 horsepower (200 PS) to propel our 1,640-kilogram Jaguar to a top speed of 228 km/h. That’s real sports sedan performance any other way you look at it.

How It Came To Be

When Ford took over the reins at Jaguar in the early  ‘90s, they wanted to increase the market share of the British brand and offer what the competition offers in the premium car segment. BMW had the 3-, 5- and 7-series to cover the compact, midsize and full-size luxury sedan segments while Mercedes-Benz had the C-, E-, and S-Class models. At that time, Jaguar only had the large XJ luxury sedan as well as the aging XJS sports coupe, which was trailing behind the BMW 6-series and the Mercedes-Benz SEC coupes in sales.

After several years of development, Jaguar introduced the S-Type to compete in the midsize premium car segment and the X-Type to compete in the compact luxury sedan arena. These new Jags found new audiences with the much younger yet affluent market. When the ownership of Jaguar went from Ford to Tata Motors before the Economic Collapse of 2008, the S-Type was replaced by the XF while the X-Type was replaced by the XE. Jaguar has since introduced other models, such as the F-Pace sport utility vehicle (SUV) and I-Pace fully electric vehicle (EV), in response to market demand and changing environmental concerns.

Brand Confusion

Since Jaguar was first recognized as the quintessential luxury British automobile competing against the likes of Bentley and Rolls-Royce, younger buyers tended to look for more hip and modern models. When Jaguar went into the compact and midsize luxury car segment with the X-Type and the S-Type to attract these young affluent customers, the older and much wealthier Jaguar clientele felt that Coventry has abandoned tradition. Introducing compact and midsize luxury sedans with frugal diesel engines and lively performance eventually seemed to have helped Jaguar claw its way out of this confusion somewhat.

And the world is a much better place because of this. When we first got into the XE, it did not feel as confined as we expected from a compact car filled to the brim with comfort and luxury. It felt like a more “personalized” and cozier version of the midsize XF, which we test drove a year earlier. Looking around the interior, we didn’t feel like we were in a compact Jag because it still felt roomy and luxuriously comfy, even for the rear occupants. But we knew we were in an expensive and special automobile because our Jaguar XE oozes of quality and character inside and out.

Changing Our Perception

It was when we started driving the car that our perception of the XE started to change. Like the XF, the interior of the XE is rich, quiet and posh with a soft yet taut and compliant ride. The XE benefits from Jaguar’s Lightweight Aluminum Architecture that provides an exceptionally strong and stiff platform and a near-perfect front-and-rear weight balance. Double wishbone front suspension and Integral Link rear suspension provide the XE with sporty, dynamic and impeccable road manners.

Extensive use of aluminum makes the XE one of the lightest vehicles in its class and helps improve power-to-weight ratio, making it one of the most enjoyable and agile diesel-powered compact sports sedan that we’ve driven. Even our trained ears were mistaken, thinking at first that a gasoline engine was propelling our feisty little feline. It also felt good to know that all that light weight helps make our lithe Jaguar one of the more environment-friendly and fuel-efficient compact luxury cars we have driven.

Sports Sedan Performance and Looks

A short but quick drive with our rear-drive Jaguar further changed our perception of diesel performance. The agile and sporty pace of our R-Dynamic XE is aided by its sports suspension while Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) helps maintain stability on low-grip condition, such as wet, slippery road after a light downpour. Its Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) adapts the levels of steering support, providing a light steering feel during low speeds and parking maneuvers while increasing feedback at higher speeds.

Our XE comes with a host of other dynamic driving aids that we were not able to fully explore because of our short stint at the wheel, but just by simply looking at it, you know that it is a sports sedan. Exterior enhancements such as satin chrome side vents, polished aluminum window surrounds, premium LED headlamps with the signature “J” (for Jaguar) daytime running lights, LED tail lamps, and animated directional indicators. Its 19-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels shod in 225/40R19 Pirelli P-Zero low-profile high-performance tires are clearly indicative of this Jaguar’s performance potential.

Despite having this 2021 Jaguar XE D180 SE R-Dynamic for just a few short days, we firmly believe that it can readily contest the title of “The Ultimate Driving Machine” hands down. Its price tag of P4,300,000 is clearly aimed at its Teutonic competitors (especially the one with a new, ugly snout) with all its luxurious features and modern technology packed in a compact yet exciting 4-door sedan body. We guarantee that your English stiff upper lip will be immediately replaced with a big toothy grin once you get your mitts into this sporty, compact Jaguar.

(Special thanks to the management of 27 Annapolis Premium Boutique Residences for accommodating our Jaguar XE photoshoot at their venue.)


Price: P4,300,000.00

Classification: 4-door luxury sedan

Engine type: Ingenium liquid-cooled inline-4 turbocharged diesel engine

Capacity: 1997 cc

Maximum power: 197hp (200 PS) @ 5500 rpm

Maximum torque: 340 Nm @ 1200-4500 rpm

Transmission   8-speed Automatic

Length: 4678 mm

Width: 1967 mm

Height: 1425 mm

Wheelbase: 2835 mm

Curb weight: 1640 kg

Ground clearance: 125 mm

Turning radius: 11.22 m

Fuel tank capacity: 56 liters

Acceleration: 8.1 seconds

Maximum speed: 228 km/h

Trunk space: 410 liters

Contact Details

Jaguar Land Rover Philippines

All British Cars, Inc.

1008 Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA),

Greenhills, San Juan City, 1502 Metro Manila

Phone: (+632) 8784 5000