Back in 2014, following the car’s initial public debut, we billed the Jaguar XE as “The Most Important Car in Jaguar’s History.” We recently spent a week and many miles behind the wheel of a 2017 XE 35t R-Sport to see if that claim holds any water.
Right off the bat, the XE is an easy car to like. It’s a handsome car with a sharp, purposeful design that is best described as a shrunken-down, liposuctioned Jaguar XF. Park the two sedans side-by-side and you’ll be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Usually, we’d cry foul over such a blatant copy-paste job, but in this case, it’s a job done right. We’re big fans of the XF’s clean design; the XE’s smaller package and lighter pricetag are just icing.
The XE is one of the most aluminum-intensive cars the British automaker has ever developed, with a claimed 75 percent of the car’s bodyshell composed of the lightweight metal. In its most svelte form, the XE tips the scales at an impressive 3,250 pounds.
This added lightness pays dividends, especially when you run into some crooked country lane. In top-spec 35t R-Sport trim, the XE was nimble on claustrophobic California canyon roads. For the first Jaguar to use an electric power steering system and they, steering was predictably light and effortless, but not enough so to make the experience feel artificial. The suspension is extremely comfortable, offering up fantastic composure both in curves and on straights, while returning the long-legged grand touring disposition we have come to know and love Jaguars for.
At the moment, this is the most aggressive XE available on our shores. A host of efficient four-cylinder engines are available, but our 35t R-Sport packed Jag’s ubiquitous 3.0-liter supercharged V-6. Like in most Jags, the 3.0-liter offered up 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to a snappy ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, 0-60 mph arrives in the mid-to-high four second range. Not enough power? Don’t fret – rumors have emerged surrounding a planned XE R with Jag’s wonderful 5.0-liter supercharged V-8. Yowza.
Where the XE really shines is over long distances. With cushy seats and a comfy ride in the 35t R-Sport, a round trip down from Los Angeles to San Diego and a stint from LA to Las Vegas left me freshed and unbroken.
Capability and composure aside, it’s not perfect. Kitted out as ours was, the 35t came in just above $60,000. Interior materials, while nice in most places, weren’t up to snuff given the price., and the overall interior was far more austere than that of German or Japanese rivals, a turn-off for those who expect luxury cars from this segment to “wow” them with design.
Regardless, for an industry that is in the throes of mourning the death of the traditional sedan, it’s heartening to see a low-volume manufacturer develop such an engaging four-door. As the Jaguar F-Pace will surely pull sales from the BMW X3 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE, we’re banking the XE will pry BMW 3-Series and Mercedes C-Class keys from buyer’s minds.
2017 Jaguar XE 35t R-Sport
|PRICE||$50,195 (base), $59,635 (as tested)|
|ENGINE||3.0L supercharged DOHC 24-valve V-6/340 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 332 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, RWD sedan|
|EPA MILEAGE||21/30 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L X W X H||183.9 x 72.8 x 55.7 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.9 seconds (est)|