Jaguar XE is worthy small sedan

SHARE Jaguar XE is worthy small sedan
SHARE Jaguar XE is worthy small sedan

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.

Marketed with rear-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive, the XE sits right on the line between the compact and mid-size 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; 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: a 180-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel; a 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine; and a 340-horsepower, 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 V-6 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 pound-feet 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. According to Jaguar, its340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet 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, push-button 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, Wi-Fi and a head up display, all of which brought its price to $61,385.

The tested XE AWD R-Sport exhibited a simple and functional instrument panel, uncluttered design and quality materials. I do wish, however, that sun visors 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, as they are on Jaguar’s flagship XJ L sedan, for better sun-block protection.

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.

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