The Jaguar XE is the brand's first real attempt at a “compact” sport sedan worthy of the BMW 3-Series, the Mercedes C-Class, the Audi A4.
Inside the Jaguar XE
More of the Jaguar XE's interiors
The Jaguar XE comes in a range of colors
We’ve been seeing great things from Jaguar Land Rover lately and the XE is a pivotal car in the resurgent company’s lineup. It’s Jag’s first real attempt at a “compact” sport sedan worthy of the BMW 3-Series, the Mercedes C-Class, the Audi A4, plus recent players like the Cadillac ATS.
The XE is available in the United States with three engine choices: a 2.0-liter gasoline turbo four with 240 horsepower, a 2.0-liter diesel—yes, they still sell those here!—turbo four with 180 HP, and a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 with 340 HP.
One thing we Americans will not get: a manual transmission option on any of the cars. They couldn’t make a business case for it, I was told.
By every measure the Jaguar XE is a highly impressive car and one of the better alternatives to the existing players in the increasingly crowded sport sedan market. As handsome as the XE, it also errs conservatively on the classic side, drawing much of its design cues from its bigger sibling XF. The styling does not stray far from the larger XJ and XF models but in this smaller package it seems to take on a whole new attitude closer to its sports car sibling the F-Type.
The R-Sport model underlines the statement with a body kit that includes a trunk lid spoiler, side sills and sport bumper.
It looks best from the front, where the curved headlamps, the rectangular grille and the prominent Jaguar cat logo make for a distinct and tasteful look.
Does it lack the visual drama of the F-Type Coupe? Definitely. But this segment is infamous for being light on risk-taking. The XE is designed for broader appeal and it works.
Comfortably ensconced inside the Jaguar XE, the interior is thoroughly elegant and modern, a bit minimalist even, keeping all the relevant buttons in a nice orderly array that’s easy to access. It’s a nice balance between sporty exhilaration and sedan comfort. The seats are comfortable and well bolstered, and offset with some nice accent stitching.
Plastic is kept to a minimum with soft leather inserts and padding in all the right places although this is the top of the line interior in the R-Sport and I would describe it as just OK. One press of the start button and the flush mount rotating gear selector rises up as the car comes to life. While it’s been a Jaguar feature for years, I never grow tired of it.
The dial gets more beautiful all the time and adds a touch of bling to the piano black console. The heated R-Sport branded leather wrapped steering wheel is hard to take your hands off of.
A significant improvement is the new Jaguar InControl infotainment system. It’s situated in an optional, wide rectangle 10.2-inch screen offset by black piano plastic that is a delight to look at. Thanks to a new processor it’s incredibly fast, making scrolling through menus or finding a satellite radio station about as quick as you’d expect on an iPad or similar tablet. The menu layouts and graphics are all very pleasing and easy to figure out.
And while the 340 HP supercharged V6 comes from the F-Type, it’s not as fully potent as many of Jag Land Rover’s other engines. It could also benefit from a tick more active exhaust. Sure, it’s quick, and has a nice linear power delivery you don’t get from competing turbo motors, but it’s hardly overwhelmingly fast. Zero to 60 mph happens in 5.1 seconds.
Fortunately, the ZF 8-speed automatic continues to be a delight, providing fast and smooth shifts on its own or when the paddles are used. The R-Sport version also adds adaptive HID headlights with auto high beam and LED daytime running lights, satellite radio, blind spot monitors, parking sensors and autonomous brakes. The optional 20-inch alloy Propeller Spoke rims are among the most gorgeous in the market and a Black Pack that replaces the standard exterior chrome is downright sexy.
The XE is the first in this class to use a new aluminum-intensive design to reduce weight yet improve body strength and keep a near perfect 50:50 weight distribution. Add to this torque vectoring inputs for twists and turns that apply the brakes to the inside wheel and power to the wheel with the most grip. The advanced double wishbone front suspension is like that found in the F-Type and F-Pace SUV and a multi link system in the rear called Integral Link is not found elsewhere in this segment.
It‘s suspension bushes are 30 percent softer and the system adds to the XE’s turning capability. There’s an exhilarating road hugging feel and agility to this all wheel drive car.
There are a number of driver inputs to fine tune your driving experience. Jaguar Drive Control has Standard, Eco, Dynamic or Rain/Ice/Snow modes which make adjustments to steering and throttle mapping depending on the conditions. You can further tweak the dynamics through an on screen menu. The R-Sport version offers lots of safety tech in addition to the enhanced exterior/interior such as Lane Keep Assist & Driver Condition Monitoring, blind spot monitoring, front and rear braking aids and autonomous emergency braking.
Despite its size, the Jaguar XE does hold five passengers comfortably with 15.9 cubic feet of trunk space. The split fold rear seat can fold fully or divided 40:20:40. Without question, the XE is a solid offering from Jaguar.
The Jaguar XE starts at $34,900 with the turbo gasoline four. Like the rest of the cars in this segment, you can easily nearly double that with options and fancier engines. The XE 35t R-Sport with AWD I tested came in at $61,385, and the 20d Prestige RWD diesel came in at $52,985.