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Quick Take: 2018 Jaguar XE 25t R-Sport AWD

Stylish and enjoyable, but in need of refinement

Billy Rehbockwriter, photographer

Pricing is a hell of a thing. I didn't know the price of our 2018 Jaguar XE 25t R-Sport AWD two-week loaner when I was driving it around Los Angeles, but the lengthy model name should have been a big enough hint that it was expensive.

This athletic mid-sized luxury sedan stickers for an eye-watering $60,645, over $10,000 beyond the model's $48,325 starting price. When I was tootling through the sunny boulevards of my city, I figured I was only driving about $50,000 of kit at most. Man was I wrong.

I had to lead with the price because although the XE is quick, handles great, and is laden with some useful tech, the experience of living with the car falls short of the suggested retail value, especially when compared with a similarly optioned 2018 Audi A4 Quattro S-Line (manual!) we had in the garage earlier, which finished much closer to the $50k mark.

Our tester wore attention grabbing Caesium blue paint, which won some affection from our staff but drew the ire of those that prefer a more subdued color scheme. As an R-Sport car, the XE wears an R-Design body kit which adds some aggression to the sedan's styling and also bestows it with a trunk lid spoiler.

Other cosmetic enhancements include the $360 Black Design Package, which blacks out the grille, side vents, and bumper blades. As a finishing touch, the Jaguar also rode on optional 19-in. wheels, which contributed another $1,020 to the final price. The aggressive styling must work too, more than one Alfa Romeo Giulia driver seemed keen to tailgate and then fly by during my morning commutes. Who says there isn't competition in the sports sedan segment?

Acceleration from the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is fleet and without drama thanks to the AWD system. Jaguar claims our tester should be good for a 6.3-second 0-60 mph sprint, and it felt about that brisk when launched. An eight-speed automatic transmission handles the gear changes but the general consensus among our staff is that the engine and gearbox don't communicate as well as they should in an executive sedan.

At times, it's tough for us LA drivers to open up our cars on the road and really let them breathe, but I had a chance to hustle the XE through some of the better on-and-off ramps in the area. After my disappointment with the wheezy-sounding Ingenium-family powerplant in traffic systems, bending the Jaguar through some more exciting corners proved to be the sedan's saving grace. Turn the wheel and the weight is just right, unwind and get ready for the next turn. All it needs is a better powertrain and then this XE would become a proper Jaguar.

As a commuter, the 25t R-Sport AWD does a lot right, much of which is thanks to the $3,265 Technology Package. Save the lack of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, I enjoy the Jaguar-Land Rover infotainment system, upgraded to the 10-inch display with the "Pro" version of the interface and navigation. The graphics are clean, the responsiveness is generally at the level of a smart phone, and the user interface is intuitive with obvious menu options. There's also a digital display in the gauge cluster that carries over much of the main display's functionality. The premium Meridian sound system suits the smaller cabin well and I enjoyed a variety of tunes over Bluetooth, satellite and HD radio. There's also a Wi-Fi hotspot to fully tech-out the interior.

Speaking of the greenhouse, I found the interior to be a bit snug. My normal-sized adult passengers complained of difficulty entering and exiting the rear doors. The dashboard layout has a driver-focused layout, but I still felt a bit claustrophobic due to the tight fit.

Compact cabin aside, I appreciated the Comfort and Convenience Package, a $2,235 option that adds heated and ventilated from seats, a motorized rear sun shade, and a powered trunk complete with gesture-control functionality.

The Driver Assistance Package, for $3,495, rounded out the trio of high-dollar add-ons on the Jaguar. This added a bevy of safety assists to our tester and provided me with some peace of mind on the city's busy streets. This includes adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go traffic abilities, traffic sign reading,   blind spot and parking assist. My favorite of the bunch is the 360-degree parking aide, which wowed my passengers with a top-down view of the car and parking space via a network of cameras mounted around the car.

Pricey packages add up quick, but the net result isn't always worth it. I enjoyed my time in the 2018 Jaguar XE 25t R-Sport AWD despite the shortcomings of its coarse powertrain and compromised interior. Yet the athletic handling can't save it from the sour value-to-features ratio. If it was a little more refined, I'd be on board.

2018 Jaguar XE R-Sport AWD Specifications

PRICE $48,325/$60,645 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/247 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 269 lb-ft @ 1,300-4,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed  automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD sedan
EPA MILEAGE 24/34 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 183.9 x 81.7 x 56.1 in
WHEELBASE 111.6 in
WEIGHT 3,668.5 lb
0-60 MPH 6.3 sec
TOP SPEED 155 mph