There, Jaguar did away with hard plastics and added some new technology borrowed from the electric I-Pace, with XE's new door trims that will eventually serve as a template for all models, with improved ergonomics and more premium, soft-touch materials.
"That was a really big job," says Ian Callum, Jaguar's director of design. "That's more than a normal facelift would normally get. What I think we've done with the interior is bring Jaguar back to its natural level of ambience and luxury. You sit in the car now, it's a great interior. We're really proud of it."
Gone are the hard plastics in favor of new leather on the dash, door panels, seats, head rests and steering wheel. There are also carbon fiber panels around the front and rear door handles and the pistol shifter, which was borrowed from the F-Pace and replaces the previous version's dial shifter. The front-seat leather headrests are embossed with the Jaguar leaper logo, and the stitched-leather seats are a new design.
The new front and rear door panels feature a more ergonomic 360-degree leather pull handle, replacing the previous design that had it as part of the door armrest. There's also a slot down low designed to securely stow reusable water bottles. Callum said the new door panels will appear on all future Jaguar models.
The XE also features a redesigned center console with more storage, a pair of USB ports positioned inside the stowage bin along with an auxiliary power jack, and the second-generation heads-up display has improved graphics. Borrowed from the electric I-Pace is the optional InControl Touch Pro Duo touchscreen, which is kept separate from the climate control screen that retains two dial knobs. Also available is a wireless phone charging port, a first for Jaguar, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
"We've taken something from a much higher car into our small family car, which is the right thing to do," Callum said. "We've got to cascade all that good stuff into our affordable car and try to work around it. It was challenging, because it costs money, but it's what people expect.
"I'm of the belief now that people buy a smaller car not because it's necessarily cheaper, but because they want a smaller car. And that attitude will prevail. It's important that we bring that level of luxury into smaller vehicles."
The XE compact sedan first launched in 2016 as a 2017 model. Callum said the exterior was too similar visually to the larger XF, so the designers added different shapes to the grille and bumpers to make it appear wider and lower, with larger front apertures. They also added new LED head- and taillights, which enabled them to slim them down. Overall, it adds a more muscular appearance to the sports sedan even as it consolidates powertrain options.
The 2020 Jaguar XE goes on sale in the U.S. this summer, starting at $40,895 including destination. It'll also come with the Jaguar EliteCare ownership package that includes perks like a five-year/60,000-mile warranty and complimentary scheduled maintenance.