We live in an era of automotive excellence, so to conclude that the 2017 Jaguar XE is a worthy competitor in its class amounts to high praise.
The small XE completes the Jaguar sedan lineup, which had previously been limited to the midsize XF and, at the top of the line, the superb XJ luxury sedan -- especially in its limousine-like long-wheelbase L version.
The XE is not Jaguar's first foray into the compact sedan territory. From 2001 to 2009, when Ford owned the company, it sold the X-Type, which was based on the same platform as the European Ford Mondeo.
Now Jaguar is owned by Tata Motors of India, which has had the good sense to bolster financing while leaving the British company's designers and engineers to their own competences. The results have returned Jaguar to the forefront among luxury and sports cars, though it remains a small player against BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi.
Some critics carped that the old X-Type cheapened the Jaguar brand. It competed against the Mercedes C-Class, BMW 3 Series, and Audi A4, but sales never met the company's expectations and the X-Type was consigned to museum duty.
Now there's a new small Jaguar sedan. Marketed with rear-drive or optional all-wheel drive, the XE sits right on the line between the compact and midsize categories with 110 cubic feet of total interior space -- 95 cubic feet for passengers and 15 cubic feet in the trunk.
The small sedan promises adequate room for four adults, although as usual in most cars these days, the middle seat in back disrespects a fifth passenger.
The XE is offered in 19 variations with three engines: 180-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel, a 240-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine, and a 340-hp, 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 gasoline engine. All are powered by eight-speed automatic transmissions with manual shift modes.
Prices start at $35,895 for the 25t with the four-cylinder gasoline engine, and top out at $58,995 for the 35t First Edition AWD V6 model. The lowest-priced 20d diesel has a base price of $37,395.
An all-wheel-drive 20d R-Sport diesel was tested at the introduction. It performed smoothly and quietly on the road. With 318 lb.-ft. of torque to augment its 180 horsepower, it had strong acceleration, rated by Jaguar at 7.5 seconds to 60 mph. Its price tag, with options, was $56,345.
The focus here is the most powerful XE. Jaguar says its 340 hp and 332 lb.-ft. of torque deliver a zero-to-60-mph-time of 5.1 seconds, with a top speed of 120 mph. Equipment included automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats with driver's memory settings, motorized sunroof, heated steering wheel, pushbutton starting, navigation, lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, and HD and satellite radio.
The test car also carried extras that included 19-inch black alloy wheels, cooled front seats, heated rear seats, WiFi, and a head up display, all of which brought its as-delivered price to $61,385.
Developed from the same platform as Jaguar's new F-Pace crossover sport utility vehicle, the tested XE AWD R-Sport exhibited a fraternal kinship. The simple and functional instrument panel was similar to that of the F-Pace and, of course, the powertrain was a duplicate of the F-Pace's 340-hp model.
Interior surroundings also bore a resemblance to the ambiance of the all-new 2017 Jaguar F-PACE, with uncluttered design and quality materials. I do wish, however, that sunvisors could slide on their support rods to fully block sun from the side. And the shade for the motorized glass sunroof is made of a thin, perforated cloth that admits too much sunlight. I think sunshades should be opaque for better sun-block protection, as they are on Jaguar's flagship XJ L sedan.
On the road, the XE is a silent runner with minor intrusion of mechanical, road, or wind noise. The powerful V-6 triggers a quick jump off the line and the eight-speed automatic shifts crisply.
Augmenting the power on the test car was a sport-tuned suspension system and steering, along with Jaguar's full-time all-wheel drive, which kept the tires planted in aggressive cornering. Though it has a luxury persona, the XE earns sports sedan credentials.
Copyright © 2016 Motor Matters
|Base price||$52,695 (as tested: $61,385)|
|Curb weight||3,795 lbs.|
|Engine type||Supercharged V-6 w/DI|
|Epa mileage rating||20 mpg city, 29 mpg highway|
|Fuel capacity||16.6 gal.|
|Horsepower (net)||340 at 6500 rpm|
|Overall length||183.9 in.|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||332 at 4500 rpm|
|Vehicle type||5-passenger AWD compact sedan|
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