The Jaguar XE is the British marque’s first full-bodied attempt at taking on the big German three in the compact luxury sedan game; a game that’s currently being dominated by the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series. Designed by Ian Callum and underpinned by an all-new aluminium intensive modular platform, the XE is positioned as the most driver focused car in this class by Jaguar. And so the car on test here is a 200bhp plus, petrol version of the sedan. How does it do? We find out.
EXTERIORS AND STYLE
Jaguar XE has an agile look and is designed to make it a head turner when it is driven on the road. Jaguar XE features include a length of 4795mm and a width of 2075mm and come with body colored bumpers. The engine grill has a beautiful perforated design that is bordered with a chromium strip and the logo of the company inscribed in the middle. The headlight cluster is big and powerful and are equipped with halogen lamps for the Pure trim whereas, the Portfolio trim is equipped with bi-functional HID Xenon headlamps along with headlamp power wash function. To cool the powerful engine quickly, it has a big black color perforated air dam along with two black color air vents to dry the brakes. Looking at its side profile, you will notice silver encrusted air vents, body colored ORVM caps (with integrated turn lamps) and door handles along with uniquely designed fenders, which houses 17-inch silver alloy rims mounted by tubeless radial tyres. The rear profile of this car reinforces the athletic look of its front. Jaguar XE Colors available in the market include, Ebony Black and Polaris White. If you want more variety, then you have to pay for some other colors like Ammonite Grey, Blue Fire, British Racing Green, Dark Sapphire Metallic, Glacier White, Italian racing Red, Odyssey Red, Osmium Blue, Quartzite, Rhodium Silver, Ultimate Black, Black Cherry, Celestial Black, Ingot, Storm Grey, and Tempest Grey.
INTERIORS AND COMFORT
The sporty and understated design philosophy of the exterior has trickled down to the interiors as well. It shares some beautiful elements with the big daddy XJ like the ‘Riva Loop’ which is a continuous band of trim running around the dashboard and connecting the front doors. The dashboard itself sports a clean design with the touchscreen infotainment system taking centre stage. The AC controls are neatly laid out with buttons being of adequate size. Speaking of buttons, it is slightly disappointing to hear a click sound from many buttons. It robs away some of the premium experience and Jaguar could have used better buttons.
The overall interior quality is very good in the Jaguar XE. The front seats offer excellent support and are well cushioned. The rear seat is a little tight in terms of headroom for tall passenger owing to the sloping roofline but is otherwise very comfortable. The under thigh support and legroom is good for any passenger below 5’10”. However, a third passenger would not be comfortable due to the tall transmission tunnel and protruding rear AC vents.
The boot is very practical due to its flat and wide floor. The spare tyre is tucked away under the floor unlike the Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3-Series which makes all the boot space usable. The infotainment system is much improved over the previous iterations seen in other Jaguar cars but it still isn’t the best in trade. A very neat party trick in the Jaguar XE is the 360 degree camera which is the best we have ever seen in a car. It works very well to show the complete surroundings of the car and makes parking in tight spaces a breeze. The Meridian sound system will satisfy the audiophile in you by providing good music quality.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE
Now that Jaguar has released information on U.S. XE models, we now know what engines will be available in the U.S. market. The XE 25t comes with a turbocharged, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder – already seen in other Jaguar Land Rover vehicles — that puts out 240 horsepower 251 pound-feet of torque. For those diesel fans, the XE 20d delivers with a 180 horsepower, 2.0-liter diesel engine that also pushes 318 pound-feet of torque. The range topping model – the XE 35t – comes with a 3.0-liter, supercharged, V-6 that puts out a respectable 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. With that kind of performance, zero to 60 mph takes just 5.1 seconds and top speed is limited 120 mph.
All three engines are mated to a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, but the XE35t AWD is mated to the beefier 8HP70 transmission, while the RWD variant of the XE 35t, the XE20d and the XE 25t are mated to the 8HP45 transmission.
We’ve all known that AWD was coming to the new XE, but now we have confirmation of what XE models will be available with all-wheel drive. It won’t even be an option on the base XE 25t, but it will be available on the XE 20d and the V-6 powered XE 35t. Like the new XF and F-Pace, the AWD system uses a multi-plate wet clutch transfer case to transfer power to the front propshaft. When needed, the system can switch from full, RWD to AWD in just 165 milliseconds. This on-demand system allows for the steering to remain uncorrupted during normal driving maneuvers.
You may have noticed that there is no V-8 engine option, but give it time. Jaguar won’t let BMW, Audi and Mercedes have all the fun in the compact super-sedan range. Expect the same 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 from the other Jaguar models to find its way into a Jaguar XE R model in the next few years
RIDE AND HANDLING
The 2017 Jaguar XE could easily win you over once you turn its rotary transmission selector to Drive. It’s a car engineered for the driver who wants to feel the road through the steering wheel and the seat of the pants. While many cars, including the vaunted BMW 3 Series, have moved toward being more comfortable and isolating, the Jag XE doubles down on driving dynamics. The steering is exceptional, delivering consistent weighting and providing an impressive amount of feedback. You can feel what the car is doing.
Jaguar also knows how to tune a suspension, managing to maintain control around corners and feel perpetually composed yet still deliver a well-damped ride that soaks up bumps and never punishes you for its athleticism. This perception is even better when you choose the Advanced Dynamics Pack. Truthfully, you won’t notice a big difference between its standard and Dynamic settings, but the adaptive suspension’s ability to further improve upon ride comfort and handling is well worth the extra cost. Really, the XE could go up against the Cadillac ATS as the most engaging luxury sport sedan to drive right now.
Of course, the engine you select makes a difference. At this point we’ve only sampled the 35t’s supercharged V6. Like Jag’s supercharged V8s, the XE’s 340-hp engine upgrade delivers silky smooth, effortless power that is pleasantly different in character compared with those offered by competitors. The fact that it gets the same EPA-estimated fuel economy as the base 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder would certainly make us think long and hard about paying extra for the 35t. Of course, the presence of a diesel engine certainly makes the 20d the engine to get for those who prioritize fuel economy. If there is one disappointment from a powertrain perspective, it’s the unrefined automatic stop-start system that draws too much attention to itself.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
All XE versions come with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition that shows the relevant speed limit on the dashboard. Front, side and curtain airbags (which cover the front and rear windows) are also standard, although it’s a shame that there’s no driver’s knee airbag and you can’t add rear side ’bags. A blindspot monitoring system and adaptive cruise control are available as optional extras.
Euro NCAP gave the XE 5 stars in its crash test, and drill down into the details and you’ll discover the XE scores well in the individual categories, outscoring the Audi A4 in all but child occupant protection.The standard tyre pressure-monitoring system warns you if you have a puncture, although you’ll have to pay extra for a space-saver spare tyre instead of an inflation kit. A full-size spare isn’t available.As you’d expect, every version comes with an alarm and an engine immobiliser to help fend off thieves, and you can add a vehicle tracker.
The XE retains the Jaguar DNA be it for looks and styling, interior, power and agility. The only knick in the armour is no option for diesel engines as majority of the luxury car sales in India are for oil burner. Leaving that, we loved the XE. With this brand, you don’t just move away from the German badge but you even procure a fresh product that looks a lot more expensive than its price tag.