The XE is the smallest Jaguar, and it acquits itself well against European competitors such as the BMW 3-series, Audi A4 and the Mercedes-Benz C-class. With styling that is unabashedly similar to its larger sibling, the XF, the XE is a handsome four-door that carries the panache of Jaguar styling with a price that is within reach of many buyers.
There are three models—20d, 25t and 35t—and four trim levels. Prices begin at $34,900 for the 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder; $36,400 for the 180-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel four-cylinder and $41,700 for the 340-horsepower, 3.0-liter supercharged V-6. The all-wheel drive diesel starts at $38,900, and the all-wheel drive V-6 starts at $44,200. The test car, from Jaguar’s press fleet, was an all-wheel drive 20d R-Sport. It had a base price of $49,000 and a sticker price of $49,995.
Diesel engines run the risk of getting a bad reputation because of Volkswagen’s emissions cheating, but that’s a shame because I think the one in the Jaguar is excellent. The diesel’s 318 pound-feet of torque is only 14 pound-feet less than the supercharged V-6, and it is available at just 1,750 rpm. High torque at low rpm gives the XE sharp throttle response, and it accelerates strongly from rest and pulls up hills with authority. Passing is a breeze. In addition, the rear-wheel-drive model has a fuel economy rating of 32 miles per gallon in the city and 42 on the highway while all-wheel drive is 30 mpg and 40 mpg respectively.
The eight-speed automatic transmission is a good match for this engine. Jaguar says it shifts “in just 200 milliseconds, or four times faster than the average human resting heartbeat.” Gear selection is by a rotary knob on the console, but the driver can take control at any time with paddles on the steering wheel.
The XE is one of the more attractive cars in its segment. Like its siblings, the XE makes extensive use of aluminum to save weight, and that improves performance and efficiency.
Jaguar press materials quote Ian Callum, director of design, as saying, “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.”
The stealthy looking dark-blue test car was equipped with the black grille, bumper blades, side vents and 18-inch black wheels.
Handling is crucial in this segment, and the XE acquits itself very well. Nearly ideal weight distribution enables the car to tackle turns with confidence and security.
The test car’s cabin was pleasant and serene. Wind and road noise are nicely muted, and the seats are widely adjustable. The leather seats have excellent lateral and lumbar support. Keyless entry, heated front seats, split-folding rear seats and a Meridian audio system were part of the test car’s standard equipment.
Navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, Sirius satellite radio, blind-spot monitor and a rearview camera were also included.
The audio and navigation systems are controlled through a touch screen or by knobs on the lower part of the instrument panel. Jaguar’s menu system always seems a bit complex so the ability to change radio stations or climate control fan speed with traditional knobs is appreciated, especially in cold weather with gloves on.
Just because the XE is small in size doesn’t mean it has relinquished any of the Jaguar personality, and that makes it a welcome addition to the brand family.
2017 Jaguar XE 20d AWD R-Sport
Engine: 2.0-liter, 180-horsepower diesel 4-cylinder
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 111.6 inches
Curb weight: 3,560 pounds
Base price: $49,000
As driven: $49,995
MPG rating: 30 in the city, 40 on the highway