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.