Under new ownership, Jaguar has made a compelling comeback across the luxury spectrum. The automaker has reinforced its traditional positions, rolled out new classics like the F-Type, and shown ambition in attacking new segments.
With the 2017 Jaguar XE, the brand turns to the bread-and-butter class of small sport-luxury sedans led by the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Jaguar tried this once before with the X-Type, a decent car that was otherwise dismissed by Jaguar faithful and shoppers alike as a tarted-up Ford midsize sedan (the X-Type shared its platform with Ford’s Mondeo, a European family sedan). This time, however, the British automaker has momentum and manufacturing on its side.
What Is It?
The XE is a five-passenger luxury sport sedan built on an all-new chassis and powered by either a high-performance V6 or an all-new four-cylinder diesel.
With dimensions similar to a Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the XE features a lightweight, aluminum-intensive body and chassis, and optional adaptive shocks that deliver the road finesse crucial to success in this class.
What’s Under the Hood?
The “baby Jag,” as it’s apt to become known, will launch with two distinct models: the XE 35t and XE 20d.
The XE 35t will use a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine (340 horsepower, 332 pound-feet of torque) and an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters — the same combination offered in the superb F-Type. Jaguar says the XE 35t will whip from zero to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and to a top speed of 155 mph.
The XE 20d, meanwhile, will focus on fuel efficiency with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel engine rated at 180 hp and 318 lb-ft of torque. It will also pair with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Both models will come standard with rear-wheel drive and offer optional all-wheel drive.
Jaguar hasn’t revealed EPA fuel economy estimates for either model yet, but expect the diesel to aim for the 37 combined mpg returned by the class-leading BMW 328d.
Both XE models will offer Premium, Prestige and R-Sport trim levels. The R-Sport, with its 20-inch wheels, larger front air intakes, rear spoiler and performance-oriented suspension should announce its sporting intentions at first glance. A sport suspension with firmer, performance-oriented settings comes standard on R-Sport and XE 35t models, while the XE 20d gets a more comfort-oriented ride. Adaptive shocks are optional on the R-Sport and Prestige trim levels.
Jaguar is expected to eventually expand the North American XE lineup with a turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine and a manual transmission (perhaps also to be offered with the V6 and diesel), configurations that are available on European versions.
What’s The Interior Like?
The 2017 Jaguar XE interior appears much inspired by the clean, minimalist function found in current Audi and Mercedes-Benz cabins. Expect plenty of leather and suede to cover the seats, panels and key touch points, with gloss black, aluminum and wood veneer accents. The center stack is a no-nonsense affair anchored by an 8-inch touchscreen display for entertainment and navigation, a row of conventional buttons for climate control, and Jag’s increasingly ubiquitous rotary gear selector.
Jaguar’s InControl multimedia system promises richer graphics and faster response times, both welcome improvements to Jaguar’s current units that feel inexplicably ancient among the sophistication of Jag’s current lineup. The XE’s other tech conveniences will include Bluetooth audio streaming, smartphone app integration, a WiFi hotspot and a premium Meridian audio system. An optional laser head-up display can relay information including speed and navigation.
What Kind of Safety Features Will It Offer?
Befitting a car in this class, the 2017 Jaguar XE will offer an array of safety features and driver aids. Jaguar hasn’t announced which features will come standard or optional, but available technology will include adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, semi-automated parking assist, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision alert and autonomous emergency braking.
All Surface Progress Control, a system that works at low speeds (up to 20 mph) and regulates acceleration and braking to maintain traction in slippery conditions, will also be available.
When Is It Available, and What Else Is Out There?
The 2017 Jaguar XE will step into a well-established and ruthless segment. The BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class set the benchmark for dynamic performance and build quality in this class, while the Audi A4/S4 have rapidly become equally as competitive.
And although the Japanese brands lack the cachet of the European badges, the Infiniti Q50 (formerly the G37) andLexus IS 250 are fine sport sedans with premium materials and appointments.
The 2017 Jaguar XE arrives at U.S. dealers next spring. Check back for more information on the 2017 Jaguar XE, including specs, driving impressions and buying advice as it becomes available.