Car News: Oversteer
Quick Take: 2017 Jaguar XE 35t AWD R-Sport
For Jaguar, the XE is a tremendously important car. It's the brand's first attempt under new ownership to make a car that competes with the mighty BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 -- and after spending some time behind the wheel of an XE, I think they've done a pretty good job. While the sedan can leave a little to be desired, the top-of-the-line XE 35t AWD R-Sport I drove manages to catch up to -- and maybe even surpass -- its intended competition.
Writing to you from Northern Virginia, a world where the BMW 3 Series seems as common as a Toyota Camry, the XE is refreshingly interesting to look at. The Jag projects a greater sense of presence than the competing German sedans, and the driving experience matches the look. The curiously named XE 35t features a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 that puts out 340 horsepower, which is certainly enough for the Jag to be quick on its feet and to do the 0-to-60 sprint quicker than any of its competitors. After all, it has 20 hp more than a BMW 340i, 11 hp more than a Mercedes C400 and just slightly more grunt than a V6-powered Cadillac CTS. As for handing, the electric steering provides a lot of steering feel, and the ZF 8-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and quickly.
There were a few drawbacks, of course. For one, it doesn't seem like you need to bother with the $990 heads-up display option, because it's so dim that I didn't notice it until I was almost done with the car. If there was a way to brighten it, I couldn't find it, because the XE's infotainment system is a labyrinth of menus.
But a dim heads-up display and a confusing infotainment system are small potatoes, especially since I found myself smiling the entire time I was driving the XE. In fact, it feels a little devious, like it doesn't care if you get in trouble. For example, the adaptive cruise-control systems in other cars force you to keep a 4- to 6-car-length following distance, which is practically an open invitation to allow anyone and their Prius into your lane. In the Jag, you can set that distance to be about 2 car lengths at highway speeds, which is pretty much tailgating -- and kind of terrifying. Yes, the XE will drive like a jerk for you.
The XE is a great alternative to the BMW, Audi and Mercedes, and I think it fits in well with the competition at the higher trim levels. The car I drove had a total price of $60,135, which certainly seems like a lot -- but it included the $3,200 Driver Assistance package, the $2,700 Technology package, the $990 heads-up display and $550 red paint. If you nix those options, you get an MSRP of $51,700, which is about $1,000 more than the BMW 340i xDrive. However, in order to equip the BMW with the heated leather seats and steering wheel that come standard in the Jag, you'll end up tacking $2,250 on top of the BMW's MSRP. Factor in the Jaguar's longer warranty, its excellent driving experience and its extra power, and you end up with a truly compelling argument to buy the British car over the Germans.