Jaguar whets our appetite for its attractive compact sports sedan, with a brief demo in LA.
Eventually, I hope to drive Jaguar’s new XE. Having written the words, “upcoming BMW 3-Series competitor” so frequently over the last 36 months that I have a macro for it, I will relish the opportunity to see for myself how the alleged sports sedan stacks up.
The truth is that, even though this article is titled “Tested” I only had about 30 minutes behind the wheel of the new Jag, and most of that in Los Angeles traffic. Jaguar was kind enough to invite me to the LA-based event, to preview a show it's taking on the road over the coming weeks and months to promote the XE.
The company will be giving demonstrations of its critical new sedan in major markets across the country, while also offering a taste of the James Bond-esque formula that helps differentiate it from the dominant German competitors. So, like me, potential XE owners will get a rundown of the car, a lap or two in a mild autocross stage, and to ‘act’ as the star of a canned Jag commercial. (You can see my version of acting in the video at the bottom of the page. Be forewarned: I’m very bad.) In the meantime, here are some notes from my first, limited driving experience.
- This car sounds unmistakably like a Jaguar. Mind you, I was driving the hot-blooded XE with the 340-horsepower, 332-pound-feet supercharged V6. But engineers have clearly put a premium on aural stimulation. The exhaust note was lively when I had one of just a few opportunities to open the throttle; snarling just enough to back up the car’s aggressive stance on the road.
- I drove the XE a few miles through Hollywood, in traffic, and for four laps of a micro-sized autocross course. So I can’t say how the thing handles with any real authority, yet. Still, in the small sample size I found the rear-drive XE quick to turn-in, willing to hang its tail out, and generally very playful. Those large wheels felt rather punishing on the broken bits of the LA surface streets, but more data is needed.
- The car has, as they say, “real eyeball.” Many have commented that the XE looks a lot like a scaled back XF, which is true. But to my eye – one of a set that has always enjoyed smaller cars – the sheetmetal looks better in this mildly downsized form.
- Getting a Jaguar starting price down around $35,000 is a huge win for the brand, and for those enthusiasts that might love the idea of a British car on something smaller than a sixty-grand budget.
- Compared to what Audi, Cadillac, and Mercedes-Benz are doing in this compact sports sedan space, the XE interior feels slightly underwhelming. Styling is restrained, material choices are conservative, and the overall vibe is a bit more cut-rate than in the newest competitors. When 2017 cars roll out with Jag’s new infotainment screen and the full version of InControl Touch Pro software, I think some of this feeling will be alleviated.
- Again, it’s hard to scale up driving impressions from just a few miles of public road, but I’ve a suspicion that ride quality might be “firm” rather than “luxurious.”
- And that brings me to the biggest con: lack of experience. I’m going to need a full first-drive of the XE to genuinely report on full driving impressions, fuel economy, fit and finish, and the like. Not to mention sampling all of the three engine options. Stay tuned, the full Motor1 first drive is on the way.
- Audi A4
- BMW 3-Series
- Cadillac ATS
- Infiniti Q50
- Lexus IS
- Mercedes-Benz C-Class
|Engine||Supercharged 3.0-Liter V6|
|Output||340 Horsepower / 332 Pound-Feet|
|0-60 MPH||5.1 Seconds|
|Top Speed||155 MPH|
|Price As Tested||$46,000 (est)|
|Estimated Lease Price||$800/month|