2017 Jaguar XE AWD Diesel R-Sport Road Test Review

2017 Jaguar XE AWD Diesel R-Sport

Jaguar gifts its frisky XE sports sedan with a diesel engine

Words by: Adam Allen

Another XE in the Carpages Garage? What gives?

When we first brought you our XE review several weeks ago, it was powered by Jaguar’s excellent 3.0 litre supercharged V6 that requires a steady diet of premium gas. This time, we swung to the other end of the spectrum to see what Jag’s new sports sedan is like with a diesel engine.

Fine, but promise you won’t mention the X-Type in this review?

OK- we promise we won’t.

Good. Now, about that diesel engine…

The only two brands that have the courage to step out of the dark, soot filled cloud cast over the entire industry by Volkswagen are BMW and its 328d and now Jaguar’s XE. Just because Volkswagen has regrettably sullied diesel’s reputation for the time being doesn’t mean that people don’t want choice, especially when that choice can yield a torque laden, frugal motoring experience. Jaguar’s oil burner comes from the Ingenium family of engines and its four cylinders displace two litres, good for 180 horsepower and a robust 318 lbs/ft. of torque. On highway slogs we saw the indicated consumption hover around the 6L/100km mark; over the course of the week we averaged 8.7 in mixed driving which makes the little diesel very economical to run. Plus, you get a long, languid rush of torque while navigating commutes that the gas engine has to work more frenetically to provide. Once underway, it is extremely quiet- only a little gruffness escapes when you fire it up on a cold morning until everything comes up to temperature. It also sends an almost undetectable vibration through the controls but we’d bet most owners will not take notice.

You mentioned last time around that the XE is a sports sedan that hasn’t forgotten how to have fun.

Not only that, but the XE actually raises the bar for fun in its class which over the years has gotten complacent on this front. Nowadays, the Mercedes Benz C-Class is too much of a boulevard cruiser, the BMW 3 series has dulled its edge and the Audi A4 has an electronic veneer smothering its driving experience. Despite the diesel engine, which lacks the whip-crack response of the petrol fuelled supercharged version the brilliantly tuned chassis remains a constant. It is incredible how well Jaguar has sorted this car out, beginning with the suspension tuning.  Even with the performance low profile snow tires it exemplifies that tricky balance between firm and compliant without losing any precision in the handling department. Part of that is due to the structure- it is impenetrably resolute. The brakes are strong and are actuated by a pedal that has terrific feel, and the electronically assisted steering displays a similar alacrity for feel and accuracy; it might just be the segment’s best. Although many of the XE’s competitors employ the same ZF 8-speed automatic as our tester, they don’t feel as dialed in as the Jag. It’s always in the right gear and the paddle shifters summon right-now gearchanges which livens up the diesel’s lazy but linear power delivery. We just wish they weren’t made of such flimsy plastic.

What might go wrong?

Jaguar needs to sever the tenuous link to its past filled with electronic gremlins once and for all, because the issues we dealt with wouldn’t be acceptable in a Honda Accord, let alone a prestigious sports sedan at the asking price of the XE. Like its gasoline fed stablemate, our diesel XE seemed to be plagued by the same binary snafus- rotary shifter refusing to move into reverse, a volume knob that would sometimes render itself useless (always after we had the excellent Meridian stereo cranked way up) and a reverse camera that would at times stay on for the duration of a journey. The engine features start/stop technology but we always deactivated it when setting off- we grew tired of the shudder it sent through the car whenever it fired back up. The last beef we have is in the ergonomics department. We were left scratching our heads as to why the window switches, something you’re likely to access often, are located at the top of the door panel instead of the memory seat controls which reside where your hand naturally goes to access the windows.

Should I buy an XE diesel?

The answer is most assuredly yes if A) you covet brilliant dynamics and place driver involvement near the top of your list of must-haves in car ownership, B) if you put on a lot of miles and want to save money at the pumps without sacrificing too much power and C) if you seldom use the back seats of your car to carry actual people. If any of those criteria elude you there are many other compelling choices in the segment in which the XE competes. Still, after having spent a good amount of time in XE variants powered by gas and diesel we would keep it high up on our own shopping lists. Like we said, there are many excellent choices in the entry level sports sedan space- but only one rises to the top because of its incredibley entertaining and engaging driving experience. That, friends, is the Jaguar XE.

 

2017 Jaguar XE AWD Diesel R-Sport- Specifications

  • Price as tested: $64,650
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger sedan
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Engine:  2.0-litre turbocharged diesel inline-4, DOHC, 16 valves
  • Horsepower:  180 @ 4,000 rpm
  • Torque (lbs-ft.): 318 @ 1,750 rpm
  • Curb weight: 1,721 kg (3,794 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel Consumption: 8.7/100km (27 MPG)