2017 Jaguar XE diesel AWD R-Sport review: Both quick and hesitant

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I may start telling people that Jaguar does German sport luxury better than the Germans after driving this XE. That may be a small overstatement. BMW has the sport down, Mercedes definitely has the luxury, and Audi’s somewhere in the middle, but this new sedan does almost everything right.

This is the all-wheel-drive version, so if you’re looking for 340i-style tail-out fun, you won’t get it. But the steering is there, and the power — at least off the line– is there too.

The 2.0-liter diesel turns over quickly when you hit the pulsing start button and has very, very little of the old clickity-clack diesel sound. Obviously the old smell is long gone, too. The AWD XE takes off smoothly, after a hiccup, but powerfully from a stoplight, though the power does die off little when paddling through the gears at higher speeds. Torque stays smooth though, and if your foot is planted while using those shifters, the revs just bounce from 3 to 4.

The steering is boosted but sensitive enough that you don’t need to turn it much to get around corners. I basically only drove it home from work and back, but on my normal commuting roads, and the few curves in the bunch, it had the right amount of weight, and didn’t require a lot of correction in corners. It drove dead straight on the highway, but that’s expected.

Like the XJ, the XE feels moderately stiff, maybe a 6.5 or 7, but it absorbs bumps like something much softer. I did try to avoid the big potholes, as not to risk the oversized wheels, but it’s really close to a perfect mix between ride and handling. It’s probably not as stiff as the 3-Series, maybe about the same as an A4, which is the segment that it competes in.

It looks great, like a mini XF. Actually, from far away you might confuse the two. The front end still manages to look sort of like a cat, though I can’t really tell you why. But the styling is super clean and elegant overall.

Like the exterior, the cabin is clean, without a lot of crazy styling touches. I’m glad it doesn’t have the two big round vents like the XJ. Instead, it’s just a couple of square jobs in the middle. The widescreen radio looks like it fits perfectly with the rest, and everything is basically black on black. With me in the front at 5’10”, there looked to be enough space in back for another one of me. Andy had the trunk open in our garage and it looked a little smaller than I expected, so golfers should beware. The AdBlue filler was back there … I’m wondering if that has something to do with it.

I’m really excited to try the petrol engine with more power, but as far as small luxury sedans go, this is either at the top or close for me.



Photo: 2017 Jaguar XE 20d AWD R-Sport Photo 3

2017 Jaguar XE 20d AWD R-Sport


OTHER VOICES: 

Hopping behind the wheel of this diesel powered Jag, I was curious how it would shape up against its oil-burning German competition. Like Jake mentioned, punching the starter button brought the 2.0-liter I4 diesel quickly and quietly to life. Like most modern diesel engines, save for the ones slated for big truck duty, the diesel engine option will be nearly as quiet as the gas variants, which is a big move forward.

Spinning the round gear selector to drive and hitting the accelerator pedal makes the Jag hesitate for a split-second before taking off. While frustrating for a modern small diesel, it doesn’t hesitate as badly as the diesel you had in your old pickup, though compared to the long-established small diesel mills in a Merc or Bimmer, the hesitation is noticeable. The slight hesitation aside, while rolling the Jag moves effortlessly thanks in part to the nearly 400 lb-ft of twist.

The powertrain might be bested by the Germans, but this Jag feels more capable in the corners. Like its other sport sedan, the XJ, the XE has enough suspension travel to feel like a comfortable luxe-sedan, but stays flat enough while cornering that you might forget that you’re in a diesel burner.

For the $60K as optioned, the interior won’t disappoint. It feels as nearly as luxurious as any other premium car out there. The materials are soft to the touch, and the design is drastic but still Jaguar-elegant. The navigation system takes some getting used to, as we found out you need to confirm your destination twice before moving along — or else the system thinks you didn’t really want to drive across town, despite putting in address.

Wesley Wren, associate editor



Photo: 2017 Jaguar XE 20d AWD R-Sport Photo 8

2017 Jaguar XE 20d AWD R-Sport Photo by Jaguar


The XE struck me as the car you’d buy if you were in a position to buy a 3-Series but preferred to be seen as tolerable/interesting. The white R-Sport car we tested looked incredible on the street. Certain luxury automakers seem to have traded sophistication and restraint for evermore complex surfaces and a hyper-masculine Gundam aesthetic. Jaguar’s styling seems like it’s meant to mock these cars and it’s effective.

I drove it briefly, so I’m not going to get into anything like depth on the driving experience except to say that it was very comfortable and composed, but the transmission tuning left much to be desired. The normal setting is liable to get you killed while you wait for the trans to decide that it wants to help you cross in front of traffic. The sport setting feels like driving around in first gear. There is no manual option, which if you’re aiming for people who think the 3-Series is for normies, seems like a bad idea. (It isn’t a bad idea, they’d sell like four manual cars a year if they built them.) I’m eager to drive an XE with another engine, though. The trans and the diesel don’t seem to want to work together. 

Rory Carroll, content director



Photo: 2017 Jaguar XE 20d AWD R-Sport Photo 5

2017 Jaguar XE 20d AWD R-Sport


Options: driver assistance package including park assist, surround camera system, traffic sign recognition and adaptive speed limiter, adaptive cruise control with queue assist and 360-degree parking aid ($3,200); technology package including 10.2-inch InControl Touch Pro with SSD-based Navigation, Wi-Fi hotspot, connected navigation and Meridian digital surround sound system ($2,700); comfort and convenience package including climate front seats with heated rear seats, electric rear window sunblind and powered trunk lid ($2,100); glacier white ($550); heated front windshield and washer jets ($350); black design package ($350)







On Sale: Now


Base Price: $49,995


As Tested Price: $59,270


Powertrain: 2.0-liter turbo-diesel I4, AWD eight-speed automatic


Output: 180 hp @ 4,000 rpm, 318 lb-ft @ 1,750-2,500 rpm


Curb Weight: 3,560 lb


Fuel Economy: 21/30/24 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)


Pros: Gorgeous inside and out


Cons: Little hiccup on takeoff could leave you in traffic



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