By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
We can’t think of an automotive category more difficult to successfully dominate than the group of smaller luxury performance sedans made up of cars like the: BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4. Cars in this group are some of the most benchmarked cars in the industry — the ones everyone wants to be better than.
The new Jaguar XE has broken the secret handshake and fits into the group perfectly and we think even takes on some leadership rolls. And as the latest addition to the impressive lineup of Jaguar luxury performance sedans and sports cars, the XE adds an even greater dimension of driving dynamics to the brand. It’s like the talented younger brother of the family.
The Jaguar XE was developed as the first car of an all-new modular architecture delivering a new level of design possibilities. This enabled Jaguar Director of Design Ian Callum’s team to develop their interpretation of perfect proportions: a short front and rear overhand and a dynamic cab-rearward stance. The result is a sport sedan with a low sporty driving position and sleek, coupe-like profile.
“Our mission was to create an exciting and dynamic design clearly reflecting the XE positioning as a serious driver’s car. The cab-rearward proportions and tight packaging achieve that and give the XE the appearance of movement even when it is standing still. It bears a strong family resemblance to the F-Type and will stand apart in the crowd.” said Callum.
Jaguar drew on its extensive aluminum construction experience to develop the new lightweight body of the XE which is made predominately from recycled aluminum materials. Riveting and bonding the lightweight body structure of the Jaguar XE consumes less energy than traditional spot welding. The XE also contains 101 lbs. of recycled plastics and renewable materials, further reducing its environmental impact.
“The XE is as strong and light as it could possibly be thanks to exhaustive analysis and by bringing the latest engineering techniques to bear on its design. It has been challenging to accomplish but the XE structure is absolutely at the cutting edge of what is achievable today.” – Dr. Mark White, Chief Technical Specialist, Jaguar
We like the styling of the Jaguar XE. Like the other Jaguar models, the XE has clean lines, a classic Jaguar look starting with the trademark grill and the sweeping roof line. It all comes together nicely and results in a very aerodynamic 0.26 coefficient of drag. Sure it could be more dramatic, but we think it fits the Jaguar family perfectly.
A sophisticated double wishbone aluminum intensive front suspension underlies the XE while the rear gets an integral link system. The pair delivers an uncompromised combination of precise, controlled handling while maintaining a supple ride quality. We experienced the rewards of the innovative design on the mountains roads near our home in southern Washington State. The car has amazing handling and the new electric power steering has an excellent feel and responsiveness.
A trio of engines is offered as the XE comes to market in North America including a 240-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline four-cylinder, a 340-hp 3.5-liter supercharged gasoline V-6 and a 180-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel. All three engines drive through the excellent ZF eight-speed transmission driving the rear wheels, or optionally, all the wheels on the diesel and V-6 versions.
Our test car, an Italian Racing Red 20d R-Sport, was powered by Jaguar’s new diesel engine. We like diesel power and the Jaguar version did not disappoint. The engine has powerful torquey performance as it pumps out 318-lb.ft. of torque at 1,750 to 2,500 rpms. The engine rivals the V-6, which is rated at 332-lb.ft. at 4,500 rpms. Like most contemporary diesel engines, this one uses DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) and has a convenient input point mounted in the trunk.
Although not as quick to 60 mph as the Supercharged V-6, which takes only 5.0 seconds, the diesel makes the run in 7.4 seconds. Top speed of the diesel is limited to 140 mph. EPA estimates the fuel economy at 31 mpg city, 42 mpg highway and 35 mpg combined. We averaged 37.8 mpg according to the trip computer. We like that the diesel is available in both rear- and all-wheel drive versions.
The diesel is the first engine offered from Jaguar’s new Ingenium engine family which was developed entirely by Jaguar engineers and it marks the Jaguar Land Rover’s move way from Ford Motor Company derived power plants (Ford owned Jaguar up until 2008 when Jaguar was sold to Tata Motors from India). These engines are designed from the ground up to maximize performance, efficiency and refinement.
Luxury sport sedans buyers demand the latest and greatest technologies and safety features and the 2017 Jaguar XE has an outstanding selection available including features like the laser head-up display, autonomous emergency braking system, stereo camera technology, semi-automated parallel and perpendicular parking, and reverse traffic detection. It also has blind spot warning, active cruise control, and it reads road signs so it can display the correct speed limit on the screen for the driver.
Jaguar’s inControl® infotainment system is state of the art and displays through an available 10.2-inch capacitive touchscreen. It’s a big improvement over previous systems, but still not the fastest we’ve used. The system works with Bluetooth®, audio streaming and USB connectivity and can be controlled by a familiar smart phone-like touch system or by voice commands.
The 2017 Jaguar XE is available in four trim levels: XE, Premium, Prestige and R-Sport. Prices start at $35,895, including the destination charges, for the rear-wheel drive XE with gasoline four-cylinder engine. The all-wheel drive XE R-Sport with the V-6 engine has a $52,695 price tag. Load the V-6 R-Sport with the Comfort and Convenience Package, Driver Assistance Package, Technology Package, Black Package, Adaptive Dynamics, Head-up Display, premium paint and 20-inch wheels and a couple of other extras and you can run the price to about $65,000.
After a week in the all-new Jaguar XE, it landed right at the top of our hypothetical, “If we had to buy a new car now list.” We like the looks, the comfort, the efficient diesel engine and the availability of all-wheel drive.