Watch Jaguar’s ad campaign for their new sports sedan – the 2017 Jaguar XE S – and you’ll come away thinking it’s a four-door with the spirit of an F-Type. It’s a compelling idea, and the four-cylinder XE has proved itself to be the driver’s car of the small luxury sedan class – but has Jaguar achieved a feat of those proportions? Well, the answer is complex.
Under the long bonnet sits an F-Type engine – surely the first step to mimicking that car – and the 250kW supercharged V6 is quick, no doubt about it. At the same time, the big old six critically adds mass over a front axle that feels so light and agile in the four-cylinder XE, and naturally, any sedan foregoes some of the poise of a small coupe. The F-Type’s crisp steering feel and playful rear end have translated here, though; the coupe’s fabulous exhaust note has not. So while an XE isn’t a straight four-door F-Type, it is a particularly compelling sports sedan with a mighty dose of Jaguar DNA, making it feel a degree more special than the equivalent German saloon.
Within Jaguar, the S trim indicates a faster than usual model. An R badge is reserved for the most aggressive engines. An XE R isn’t yet on the cards, so the 250kW S is the fastest model of Jaguar’s small, rear-wheel-drive sedan, the XE. The remainder of the XE range use four-cylinder motors and have built a reputation as the most agile and rewarding cars in a class that includes the well-regarded BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The XE S aims to retain those characteristics while adding performance, using the F-Type’s supercharged V6.
No doubt – the XE S is rapid. The 3.0-litre engine offers linear, lag-free acceleration because it is supercharged, not turbocharged. Like all XEs, the S is rear-wheel-drive and it demonstrates superb inherent balance. With a sophisticated but playful chassis and excellent steering, the XE S handles very well, though the added engine weight means the S is bested in corners by the lighter, four-cylinder XE 25t.
The XE S comes at a $36,000 premium to the next-fastest XE – the 25t. Most of the additional money goes towards the V6 engine – the S grade doesn’t bring many extra features, apart from configurable drive modes, red brake calipers, 19-inch wheels and half-leather, half-suedecloth seats. Many desirable features, such as full leather, a sunroof, and upgraded navigation, remain on the options list, with the XE S’s value proposition comparing unfavourably to the equivalent BMW or Mercedes-Benz.
Key specs (as tested)
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