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2017 Jaguar XE: First Drive Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Colin Ryan July 2016

The 2017 Jaguar XE premium compact sedan is an all-new model. It's in the same category as some of the best-selling German cars ever -- the BMW 3 Series, the Audi A4 and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The competition couldn't be tougher.

But the XE is polished, elegant and can be just as well-equipped as its competitors. Under the surface, it follows a formula similar to the larger XF sedan: Aluminum features strongly in its construction, even down to some suspension parts, as well as items such as the hood and trunk lid. This enables Jaguar to put high-strength steel in places where it will optimize safety and spread out the overall weight for an ideal chassis balance. But the XE is striving to strike an even more precarious balance: being the complete luxury-car package it has to be to compete against a tough field.

Look Here

Despite so many excellent rivals, the XE holds an ace or two of its own. The most apparent is its exterior styling. Take away the badges and it would still look like a Jaguar, with an overall appearance that seems more the result of natural evolution than a designer trying out and then erasing countless lines until finding the ones that really work.

The short overhangs at the nose make the XE look like it's all about the business of driving, and they also contribute to the precise feel of the suspension's front end. Somewhere inside the short rear overhangs is a generous trunk area of 15.9 cu ft., but all the proportions are in harmony.

In the cabin, Jaguar has gone for a cockpitlike layout, which is fine for the first few miles, but it starts to feel a little cramped after a while. It doesn't seem as roomy inside as several of its rivals. However, rear passenger space is at least adequate for an adult male of average build.

When you think of Jaguar, the word "luxurious" probably isn't far behind. But when you look at the XE's interior, besides the leather seating (if it's one of the two higher trims), the words "mainstream Japanese" are more likely to spring to mind. There are hard plastics on the tops of the doors and the dashboard that fail to strike the right notes, especially in contrast to the strong exterior. Everyone understands the need to keep costs down, but it shouldn't be quite so visible in a premium car when competitors like Audi make such gorgeous interiors.

Cash and Cachet

The 2017 Jaguar XE starts at $35,895 and comes in basic XE, Premium, Prestige and R-Sport trims. Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, 8-way power adjustable front seats and a powered tilt-and-slide sunroof. Moving up in trim level brings 18-in or 19-in alloys, plus leather upholstery, heated seats and a rearview camera.

Options include a self-parking function for parallel and perpendicular spaces, adaptive cruise control, a power trunk lid and a head-up display. To have all the advanced safety features on offer, you'll have to go for the R-Sport model. And even then, some of those items are extra.

Combustion Stations

Engine choices include a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that makes 240 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque (in the XE 20t model), a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that develops 340 hp and 332 lb-ft (in the XE 35t model) or a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder diesel engine (in the XE 20d version) generating 180 hp and 318 lb-ft of torque. All engines are linked to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, although Jaguar offers all-wheel drive as an option.

So far, the Environmental Protection Agency only has fuel-consumption figures for the 3.0-liter V6, which clock in at 21 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway when fitted with rear-wheel drive. Versions with all-wheel drive are rated at 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy. Jaguar is hoping the diesel version can deliver 40 mpg hwy.

Pedal and Mettle

We had the chance to assess both the diesel and the V6 models, but the gasoline-powered 4-cylinder unit wasn't available. The diesel engine makes its maximum torque at just 1,750 rpm, which provides a pleasant low-end push but gradually runs out of punch as the speeds increase -- at least it's smooth and quiet.

The V6 feels more appropriate for this premium machine, with an eager yet refined power delivery. And it exercises the suspension more, which can soak up bumps like a limousine but still feels agile through the corners. This is really one of the XE's strengths. It feels great to drive in a relaxed manner, but there's also a sporting character just waiting to get out when the circumstances permit.

Right now, German companies have a stranglehold on this class, with the Lexus IS also making a strong showing. The XE has most of the right ingredients to become a credible contender, but there's no harm in test driving as many different candidates as possible.

For access to this information, Autotrader attended an event sponsored by the vehicle's manufacturer.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Jaguar XE: First Drive Review - Autotrader