The British beauty in Caesium Blue will stand out as the envy of the pack.
In your now-distant past, you used to wake up in excitement, looking forward to the moments of weekend motoring in your two-seat roadster. You know, the one you spent your blood, sweat, and tears rebuilding and wrenching on – every penny you earned went towards your baby. Eventually, most of us have to make practical decisions that require growing up and into something a little bit more usable and a lot nicer.
The time comes to perhaps not sell the toy, but supplement it with something in the garage that does year-round duty and is suitable for nearly every situation. The options in the compact luxury sport sedan segment are all extremely good. The new Audi A4 (reviewed here), BMW 3-series, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class all offer tons of refinement and Teutonic goodness. There’s an underdog though, and it’s all new for the 2017 model year.
The 2017 Jaguar XE 35t R-Sport AWD is unmistakably a Brit, bearing Ian Callum’s design elements in the same manner as its larger sibling, the XF (reviewed here), and even the F-Type Coupé and roadster. This particular test vehicle is painted in a gorgeous Caesium Blue finish with winter-spec 17” split-spoke aluminum wheels and signature bi-xenon projector headlights. R-Sport models have plenty of sexy wheel options, so don’t be fooled by the car pictured in this review – winter mode is a very real thing in Canada.
Long gone are the memories of the Ford-based X-Type – the XE is all-new and catered specifically to the sport sedan market with soul from the F-Type (reviewed here), luxurious DNA from the large XJ sedan, and the silky smooth ride quality of the XF. Now competing with Japanese and American rivals such as the Cadillac ATS and the Lexus IS 350, the Jaguar is for the first time a truly relevant and competent sedan with performance to boot.
Though a 2.0L turbo-four is the entry-level powertrain for the XE, this R-Sport variant is equipped with the 3.0L supercharged V6 with a 10.5:1 compression ratio. Also equipped with all-wheel-drive, this model sends power to the wheels through a eight-speed automatic transmission sourced from ZF. Good for 340 horsepower at 6,500RPM and 332 lb-ft of torque at 4,500RPM, Jaguar has always been on top of power delivery. This car does not disappoint, rewarding a prod of the accelerator with a bark from the exhaust and clearly audible supercharger whine.
The eight-speed automatic snaps off quick shifts, but it’s just not as refined as the same application with different tuning in the BMW 340i (reviewed here). Manual shifts are pulled off with the paddles, as Jaguar’s signature rotary dial gear shifter is in play here. The XE also comes with near 50/50 weight distribution, thanks to the aluminum-intensive body (75% of the structure). This helps keep the car perfectly balanced when pushing it around the back roads, and demonstrating excellent body control in both highway and windy settings.
When cornering, the XE’s torque-vectoring technology does a great job at even distribution in all conditions. The Jaguar doesn’t have the exact precision of some Germans, but the car offers a brilliant mix between comfort and sportiness. The drive mode selector can alter the throttle response, transmission mapping, and engine tuning between Dynamic and Eco, with settings for poor weather as well. The brakes have a solid feel, thanks to the 12.8” vented disc brakes bringing the car to a complete stop effortlessly.
With regards to fuel efficiency, the Jaguar XE is right on par with everything else in the segment. This 35t supercharged V6 variant is rated at 11.8L/100km in the city and 8.2L/100km highway. Over the course of about 500km of driving for this test, the XE returned 9.6L/100km with no real effort to keep efficiency down. The idle start/stop contributes to fuel economy, and the tank holds 62L of 91-octane premium fuel. The ultra fuel-conservative will want to take a look at the XE 20d (reviewed here), with its Ingenium turbodiesel engine.
Inside the well-equipped R-Sport model, the leather seats are heated and cooled, providing ample support with the right amount of bolstering to keep the driver and all passengers comfortable in all situations. Visibility is mostly good all around, but the thick A-pillars make for large blind spots from the driver’s seat. Rear headroom and legroom might be a bit tight for full-sized adults, but that’s on par for the course within this class; the C-Class (reviewed here) boasts the most headroom if that’s a huge priority.
Our test vehicle was equipped with Jaguar’s latest InControl touchscreen infotainment, with the optional 10.2” screen. It has plenty of smartphone connectivity, but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which is offered by every single competitor save for the Lexus IS 350. The leather-wrapped steering wheel and dashboard design are familiar to anyone used to Jaguar’s most recent designs. Overall quality and fit/finish are top-notch, with great materials and good attention to detail. Ambient lighting at night is pleasant too. One area in which the Jaguar beats out the others is the 825W Meridian sound system, which sounds superb.
Available in a number of configurations starting with the $43,900 Premium, the base model XE still comes with all-wheel-drive and the four-cylinder gets to 100km/h in 6.2 seconds. The diesel starts at $45,900 and the cost of entry for the supercharged V6 tested here is $48,900. The upper-trim R-Sport starts at $52,500, and our nearly loaded test vehicle hit $64,750 as equipped. This includes options like a Driver Assistance Pack, a Tech Pack, and some standalone tech toys.
If standing out over your colleagues is your mission, the 2017 Jaguar XE 35t R-Sport AWD is the vehicle for you. Parked next to the cookie-cutter BMW 3-series’ and Lexus IS 350s in your office parking lot, the British beauty in Caesium Blue will stand out as the envy of the pack. It’s clearly the out-of-the-box choice and the winner in the style department. Not to mention the Jaguar is the only supercharged car in its category and offers an exhaust sound second to none.