|2017 Jaguar XE 20d AWD||2017 Jaguar XE 35t (R-Sport)|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD||Front-engine, RWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||Turbodiesel I-4, alum block/head||Supercharged 90-deg V-6, alum block/heads|
|VALVETRAIN||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||122.0 cu in/2,000 cc||182.7 cu in/2,995 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||180 hp @ 4,000 rpm||340 hp @ 6,500 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||317 lb-ft @ 1,750 rpm||332 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm|
|REDLINE||4,800 rpm||6,500 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||21.9 lb/hp||11.5 lb/hp|
|TRANSMISSION||8-speed automatic||8-speed automatic|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar||Control arms, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F; R||12.8-in vented, disc; 12.8-in vented disc, ABS||12.8-in vented, disc; 12.8-in vented disc, ABS|
|WHEELS, F;R||7.5 x 18-in cast aluminum||8.0 x 20-in; 9.0 x 20-in cast aluminum|
|TIRES, F;R||225/45R18 95H (M+S) Continental ProContact GX||235/35R20 92Y; 265/30R20 94Y Pirelli PZero|
|WHEELBASE||111.6 in||111.6 in|
|TRACK, F/R||63.1/63.1 in||62.8/62.9 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||183.9 x 72.8 x 55.7 in||183.9 x 72.8 x 55.7 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||38.4 ft||38.4 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,950 lb||3,913 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST, F/R||51/49%||51/49%|
|HEADROOM, F/R||37.0/37.0 in||37.0/37.0 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||41.5/35.0 in||41.5/35.0 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||56.8/54.7 in||56.8/54.7 in|
|CARGO VOLUME||14.7 cu ft||14.7 cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|0-30||2.7 sec||1.5 sec|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||4.7||2.3|
|QUARTER MILE||16.6 sec @ 83.5 mph||12.9 sec @ 106.2 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||123 ft||104 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.83 g (avg)||0.94 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||27.2 sec @ 0.62 g (avg)||24.9 sec @ 0.79 g (avg)|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||1,500 rpm||1,750 rpm|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$55,485||$59,635|
|AIRBAGS||6: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain||6: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain|
|BASIC WARRANTY||5 yrs/60,000 miles||5 yrs/60,000 miles|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||5 yrs/60,000 miles||5 yrs/60,000 miles|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||5 yrs/60,000 miles||5 yrs/60,000 miles|
|FUEL CAPACITY||14.8 gal||16.6 gal|
|REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB||31.1/44.0/35.8 mpg||22.5/29.5/25.2 mpg|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||30/40/34 mpg||21/30/24 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||126/94 kW-hrs/100 miles||160/112 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.66 lb/mile||0.80 lb/mile|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Diesel||Unleaded premium|
The trick is avoiding the obvious. So in talking about the Jaguar XE and its rivals, mentioning the BMW 3 Series would be too easy. Wait, shoot. Cat puns are out too, no matter how purrsuasive. Wait, double shoot. Oh well, here’s the Jaguar XE. A sport compact luxury sedan, like the BMW 3 Series, and by gosh is it, um, purrty.
Jaguar Design Director Ian Callum and his team have given the XE an elegant, subdued aggression that promises excitement and personality to its occupants. It’s simple yet unmistakably Jaguar in the way it conveys excitement when parked, especially with the 20-inch wheels. Up for testing are two variants: an all-wheel drive 2.0-liter turbodiesel, appropriately badged 20d AWD, and a rear-drive 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, whose aspiration and displacement Jaguar obfuscates by naming it 35t. A gasoline-powered 2.0-liter turbo, called 25t, wasn’t available.
We’ll start with the diesel. Even though it has 318 lb-ft of torque, the 20d doesn’t back up the promise of the exterior design when it comes to straight-line performance. From a stop, there’s a sizeable and annoying delay from throttle application and actual acceleration. Once underway, the 20d reaches 60 mph in 8.8 seconds and passes the quarter mile in 16.6 seconds at 83.5 mph. That’s slower than the last all-wheel-drive BMW 328d wagon we tested, and that was less powerful. Further, the XE’s diesel clatter is loud under the kind of sustained acceleration it needs to reach freeway speeds.
Fortunately, the handling is far more enjoyable, even when saddled with the all-season Continental tires equipped on our test car. They limit braking and road-holding capabilities, netting a best 123-foot stop from 60 mph, a 0.83 g average on the skidpad, and a 27.2-second figure-eight lap. Despite what the numbers say, the 20d pivots nicely into and around corners, which lets you position it with some accuracy despite the tires’ low limits.
Further, that gorgeous exterior comes at the expense of backseat and trunk space. Although the XE’s claimed cargo volume, at 15.9 cubic feet, bests the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, a narrow opening will make it hard to stow. Similarly, back-seat space is tiny; lowering the center armrest can crowd your legs. The front doors have the window- and door-lock controls split onto different vertical planes. The window switches feel like they’re in the wrong place, and some staffers couldn’t find a good place to rest their elbows. It’ll be hard to avoid the protruding air-conditioning vent while getting in and out, as some editors found out the hard way with their knees.
It’s difficult matching the level of class set by the exterior when you whack your knee getting in and out. Still, we’re sure many prospective owners will happily adjust on account of how good this sedan looks. That, plus a base price less than $40,000 makes a rear-drive 20d seem attractive on a balance sheet, too. Even as diesels are getting rarer in this group by the day, this one also has the bonus of essentially matching the EPA-rated fuel economy of a BMW 328d while costing less. Yet it’s the rear-drive 35t R-Sport we want, provided we don’t need to carry full-size back-seat passengers and their bags on a daily basis. The 35t R-Sport is the Jaguar sport sedan we’d hoped for, a new handling benchmark, the most fun to drive, and the best-handling in class.
Let’s switch to the rear-drive 35t, then. You’d be right in thinking it’s lighter than the all-wheel-drive diesel, but only by 37 pounds. Despite the use of aluminum in the construction of both cars, each weighs more than 3,900 pounds. The 35t’s engine is heavy, too, as Jaguar starts with the same block for V-6 and V-8 engines, punching six holes out for the former and eight for the latter.
It may seem portly, but the 35t hits 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and the quarter mile in 12.9 seconds at 106.2 mph. That’s faster than the last similarly powered and lighter BMW 340i we tested. Part of this acceleration is due to the Pirelli summer tires, which also improve braking and handling. The best stop from 60 mph takes 104 feet, and the 35t pulls a 0.94 g average on the skidpad. A 24.9-second figure-eight lap time also betters that 340i.
The numbers imply it, but the experience behind the seat seals it: Here’s your luxury sport sedan handling benchmark. The 35t offers friendly neutrality through accurate steering and a responsive chassis, which makes it playful in a way that encourages you to drive it harder. This sedan is equally fun to place on the corner of an empty mountain road or up a freeway on-ramp. Even better, the optional 20-inch wheels don’t adversely affect ride quality, thanks in part to the XE’s automatically adjusting dampers.
We’ll eagerly tout the XE as the best-handling sport sedan in the segment, but what about everything else? Well, that’s where small disappointments start to appear. Where the exterior’s svelte design feels luxurious and refined with nary a cheap part, the interior is a little more inconsistent. Some parts feel cheap, especially the optional head-up display. Jaguar’s large tabletlike InControl Touch Pro center display drew mixed responses. It’s a powerful and capable system, but some on staff found it hard to read and operate while driving. It was occasionally slow to react to common gestures, and it does not support Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. Overall, the interior makes an impression that doesn’t match the Audi A4 or Mercedes-Benz C-Class.