ROAD TEST: 2018 Jaguar XE S

Jaguar XE S
By Shari Prymak

The Jaguar XE may be the brand’s first real attempt at the popular sport sedan segment, but it has already proven to be a formidable rival to the established players from Germany and Japan. I was thoroughly impressed with the 2.0d R-Sport model I drove (Tested Here) with the available 2.0L turbo diesel engine. Since then, the model range has expanded to include a new 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine in two different states of tune, as well as a more potent version of the 3.0L supercharged V6 in the XE S. Yes, it does almost spell that the other way around.

The XE S uses the same engine from the F-Type S (Tested Here) producing 380 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. It comes paired to a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission and a rear-biased all-wheel drive system. With a 5.2 second 0-100km/hr quoted sprint time, the XE S is about as quick as the 340 horsepower BMW 340i or 362 horsepower Mercedes-AMG C43. With effortless thrust comes a nice sound as well. The XE S lacks the loud theatrical noises of an F-Type, but the quieter exhaust makes it easier to hear that sweet engine roar and supercharger whine. It’s fun, but also quite thirsty. I averaged 13.0L/100km during a week of spirited mixed city and highway driving.

Jaguar XE S

Spirited drives though are where the XE S really shines brightest. The steering has a nice feel to it with good heft and responsiveness. Even with that heavy powerplant up front, understeer is kept to a minimum. Turn-in is crisp with tightly-controlled body motions and high levels of grip. The ride quality is quite good as well, even with the adaptive dampers in the firmer dynamic setting. Unlike most rivals which divert back to normal mode when restarted, Jaguars will stay in the sportier dynamic mode, which is a nice touch. Unfortunately, the same memorizing capability doesn’t extend to Jaguar’s irritating engine start/stop feature. It needs to be turned off at the start of every journey if you don’t want it to annoy you with its jarring operation.

The XE’s interior is packed with cool and innovative technology. My test car came equipped with the optional “InControl Touch Pro” infotainment system. The 10.2 inch touchscreen is easy to use, responsive to inputs, and looks fantastic. Other impressive options include the great-sounding Meridian sound system, an electrically-heated front windscreen, and a sharp-looking virtual instrument display that includes a cool 3D map view for navigation. The front seats are comfortable and supportive. The back seats though will be a little tight for taller passengers. The use of materials and overall interior design are good, but far from exemplary. I’m not asking for acres of old-school Jaguar wood veneer, but a little more warmth and nicer finishes would certainly be welcome.

Jaguar XE S

The XE model range is quite extensive with a wide assortment of models. Pricing starts at $43,900 for the 25t model, which comes with a 247 horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive. The 30t uses the same engine cranked up to 296 horsepower for an extra $4,000. The diesel 20d model splits the difference between the 25t and 30t at $45,900 to start. The V6-powered S model tops out the range at $61,500, with my heavily-optioned tester coming in at $71,320. Pricey, but still in line with most direct competitors.

The Jaguar XE is not the most obvious choice for a compact sport sedan, but it is one of the more desirable ones. It’s stylish, comfortable, and entertaining to drive. It’s also more rare and special than its dime-a-dozen German rivals. The volume sellers in the range will no doubt be the adequately quick and more efficient 25t and 30t models. The extra firepower of the S model, however, will be a worthwhile upgrade for those who want the pinnacle of XE performance; that is, at least until the SVR model makes its appearance.

For more details, please visit the Jaguar Canada website.