Finding my happy place between driving and autonomy

Self-driving cars don't scare me. I'm all for smart cities and autonomous vehicles making transport, and our lives, more efficient. Bring it on, I say!

What I am worried about though is no longer being able to hit the open road and just drive.

I don't want a world that only consists of self-driving cars, but there's a lot to thank the technology that's driving the autonomous movement forward for, as it's making driving right now even better.

The Jaguar XE R-Sport is just one of the many premium cars on the market that's taking advantage of the developing tech, and after 800 miles behind the wheel I'm extremely happy it's there.

The learning curve

We drove

Jaguar XE R-Sport
: 2.0 litre Twin Turbocharged Diesel
Power: 240hp
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 6.1 seconds
Fuel efficiency: 54.4mpg
Price: £57,809

There's a lot of technology inside the XE R-Sport and you'll need to spend some time with the car to get to grips with it all. 

The manual is in the glove box, but I was able to work the majority of it out as it's fairly intuitive for those familiar with in-car systems. It could well be a daunting prospect for novices though, with a couple of sleepless nights reading the manual possible. 

You'll also need to take a moment to ready yourself for the beeping. From parking sensors, to traffic camera warnings to collision alert and more, there is an awful lot of things that go beep here. 

Thankfully you can turn off the ones you don't wish to shrill at you, reducing the in-car cacophony. Spend some time with the technology, and adjust the settings to your liking and it starts to all seamlessly blend together. 

Setting the adaptive cruise control on the motorway to 70mph and then sitting in lane as the car automatically tracks the speed of the car in front, maintains a safe distance and reduces and increases your speed to match is just part of the enhanced experience.

There's also lane assistance, which not only tells you if you're straying too close to the edge of your lane, but gently tugs the steering to re-center you. 

You'll need to keep your hands on the wheel throughout, and your feet over the pedals, but when faced with several hundred motorway miles it reduces the variables you need to consider, reducing stress and concentration and making the journey less tiring.

Coupled with the 2.0 litre Twin Turbocharged Diesel engine and automatic transmission, you can easily eat up motorway miles without noticing. 

Turn off the motorway and front collision alert will notify you if you're approaching the car in front a little too keenly, or if someone has suddenly pulled out in front of you and you've not been giving it your full attention. 

It warns you enough in advance to stamp on the brakes without sliding into the back of a car.

Then there are the automatic lights and wipers, reducing again the amount you have to think about, making the drive more effortless. 

The car is always on the lookout then, attempting to not only make driving easier, but also safer. 

Jaguar XE R-Sport exterior gallery

Passenger fascination

It's not just the driver who gets to benefit from the technological onslaught here, as all four main seats in the XE R-Sport are heated, with the front two also boasting air-conditioning - as there's nothing worse than bare skin on leather on a hot day.

Climate control ensures each passenger sits in a temperate environment that suits them, while Bluetooth music streaming from your phone to the infotainment system makes it easy to pass round the handset so everyone can pick a song.

Then there's the central, 10-inch touchscreen display. It's bright, clear and responsive, ensuring it's easy to use whether you're setting up the satellite navigation, or selecting your favorite radio station.

Jaguar XE R-Sport interior gallery

However, there is a real party piece hidden in this setup too - Jaguar's Dual View display.

Hit the Dual View in the bottom nav bar of the screen and you can choose what your passenger sees on screen, while you - the driver - see something completely different.

It allows you to have a full map view for navigation, while your passenger can opt to see something different such as the now playing screen for the stereo. That's not all though.

Open up the glove box and you'll find a pair of wireless, Jaguar-branded headphones. Turn them on, pop them on the head of your passenger, slide a DVD into the player in the glove box and they can watch a movie as your hurtle down the freeway.

Meanwhile the driver is none-the-wiser, and can listen to music through the car's stereo and continue to view navigation directions on the main screen.

A post shared by John McCann (@johnbmmccann)

A photo posted by on on Jan 8, 2018 at 12:58pm PST

It all works surprisingly well, and while Dual View is a pricey (around £625) optional extra, if you have the money it's a cool addition.

It goes without saying then, that the Jaguar XE R-Sport is jam-packed full of cutting edge technology and we've not even mentioned the front, rear and kerb-side cameras, USB ports, heads-up display and digital dash.

They may not be new technologies for cars, but the inclusion of all this tech makes the XE R-Sport a fantastic ride for any tech enthusiastic.

But for those who still want to have the thrill of actually driving, you can switch off the toys, opt for the paddle shift gearbox, put your foot down and have a lot of fun.

  • John McCann is getting behind the wheel to give you an alternative look at the wealth of cars – and the tech inside them – available today. From super-fast sports cars to tech-packed hatchbacks, he'll take you through a range of makes, models, power and price tags in his regular TR Drives column.
John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.