If you don’t yet have Jaguar on your luxury vehicle shopping list yet, it is time to include it. Once considered an afterthought in the luxury segment, this distinctly British brand has made a name for itself. A string of new models, including the Jaguar XE, have effectively turned this marque around.
A 2017 Jaguar XE was a recent weekly driver, a compact luxury sedan with none other than the BMW 3 Series in its crosshairs. Certainly, Jaguar has fielded a small sedan in the past, but that X-Type model simply wasn’t up to the competition. That’s all changed now as the new XE follows a carefully laid-out path taken by more recently updated or new models, including the midsize XF sedan, the F-Type sports car, as well as the first-ever Jaguar F-Pace SUV.
Jaguar offers the 2017 XE in four trims: XE (Base) ($34,900), XE Premium ($37,500), XE Prestige ($41,400), and XE R-Sport ($46,500). Rear-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is available. You’ll have a choice of a pair of forced-induction gasoline engines and one turbo-diesel. Yes, Jaguar’s XE lineup is broad, the better to reach affluent customers.
Reduce the midsize XF to compact proportions and you have the XE. Or something very close to that.
This model features Jaguar’s recognizable gaping maw and now familiar sleek headlamp assemblies. The lower grille opening is offset by a pair of very large openings accented by fog lamps. Distinctive creasing across the hood gives this model a look that is at once powerful and elegant.
A high belt line and a sweeping roof line mark the XE’s profile. Vent ports are present and Jaguar offers a variety of wheel choices, including 20-inch forged alloy wheels. The haunch-like rear quarter includes a trunk lip spoiler, oversized wraparound combination lights, and dual-exhaust tips.
Most people correctly laud Jaguar for its clean, upscale interiors. Seating five, you’ll find very comfortable seats up front and a supportive bench seat in the rear. The back seat offers room for three, is best used for two, but if you’re tall you’ll want the front passenger seat as legroom is confining. But that’s typical for vehicles in this class, which is why taking a look at the larger Jaguar XF makes sense if you place a premium on rear seat space.
The deep center console gives the XE a cockpit feel, effectively swaddling the front passengers. You’ll find fine-grain leathers and such details as contrasting twin-needle stitching for a custom-made look. Jaguar also provides a selection of gloss black, textured aluminum, and contemporary wood veneers, along with ambient lighting in up to 10 colors.
Standard equipment goes beyond the expected power accessories to include door sill finishers, zoned climate control and a power-operated moonroof. XE Premium models bring in a folding 40-20-40 rear bench seat along with driver and front passenger seat memory. The XE Prestige offers Taurus leather seats with contrast stitching, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. A power-adjusted steering column is included as well.
The top-of-the-line R-Sport features a distinctive interior. Here, you’ll find a branded soft grain leather steering wheel, etched aluminum veneer, and four exclusive trims. Standalone options available include a heated windshield.
You’ll also find a sizable trunk measuring 16.06 cubic feet. That’s large for this class. In all but the base model, you can lower the all or part of the 60-40 bench seat to expand your cargo carrying space. Also present is a pass-through to the trunk.
Key Technology Features
Numerous technology features accompany the 2017 XE, including an available head-up display featuring speed and navigation instructions.
The heart and soul of the Jaguar XE, however, is the InControl Touch system with its eight-inch capacitive touchscreen. Choose the Pro version and you’ll access a 10.2-inch screen. The system is clear and easy to use and supports audio streaming, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity. A suite of apps allows for easy integration of smartphones as well as remote access. WiFi is available.
At the same time, the Jaguar suite doesn’t permit Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility. Instead, you’ll have to use Jaguar’s proprietary system.
Model Safety Overview
As of publication, crash testing has yet to be conducted on the 2017 XE. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will eventually test and score this model.
That said, the Jaguar XE has multiple safety or driver assist features that go well beyond the full complement of airbags, traction and stability control, and antilock brakes. All models are equipped with “all surface progress control” what works as low-speed cruise control (between 2 and 19 mph). It is designed to control braking and traction in slippery conditions.
You’ll also find that the XE offers available adaptive cruise control, closing vehicle sensing, blind spot monitoring, semi-automated parallel and perpendicular parking, and reverse traffic detection. The higher up the trim, the more likely you’ll find these features included.
On the Road
By offering three engine choices, Jaguar immediately signaled it is serious about serving the segment. All three engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Sorry, no manual transmission is offered.
A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine is standard, making 240 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque. Jaguar assigns a 25t nomenclature to this engine, which is standard on the XE, XE Premium, and XE Prestige. This engine is found on rear-wheel drive models only and makes an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.
Also available is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel making 180 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Carrying a 20d designation, this engine is also a mileage maker, coming in at 32 mpg in the city and 42 mpg on the highway (30/40 with AWD).
Available in all trims except for the base model is a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine (35t) making 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. Powerful as well as efficient, rear-wheel drive versions make an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway (20/29 with AWD).
Our test model was powered by the supercharged engine and equipped with all-wheel drive. In particular, this combination will definitely appeal to people requiring optimum performance, although we would have been satisfied with rear-wheel drive only.
The supercharged V6 offers excellent off-the-start acceleration and superior passing power. The ZF-supplied eight-speed automatic is well matched, with sufficiently spaced gears and paddle shifters for drivers preferring to control shifts.
From a full stop, you’ll reach 60 mph in five seconds. The compact Jaguar is lithe, athletic and poised, with ride quality equalling the best models in this class.
Benefiting this model enormously is its lightweight aluminum architecture — in particular the double wishbone front suspension and a multi-link rear suspension working in tandem with the electric steering to deliver driving dynamics you’ll quickly cherish.
JaguarDrive Control adds a layer of driving dynamics allowing you to select normal, eco, dynamic or rain/ice/snow modes — steering inputs and throttle mapping are affected with dynamic mode, adding weight to the steering.
It didn’t take long for me to realize the Jaguar XE has successfully cracked the top-tier amongst compact sedans. Most definitely it makes for a strong competitor to the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class as well as the Cadillac ATS. Furthermore, it is head and shoulders above the Lexus IS and Infiniti Q50, and easily a much better vehicle than the Acura ILX, Volvo S60, and the Lincoln MKZ.
Without multiple vehicles to test, we can’t offer comment on the other engine choices, although the performance numbers on the gas engine are quite good, while the diesel offers exceptional fuel economy. With Audi currently not offering diesels, Jaguar can target those customers too.
In all, we think any model above the base XE trim supplies a well-equipped entry-level sedan for under $40,000, an important price point in this segment. And for those who prefer an extra measure of utility, the all-new F-PACE SUV provides yet another reason for luxury shoppers to consider the Jaguar brand.
See Also — On the Road With a 2017 Volvo XC60
Photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. All rights reserved.