2017 Jaguar XE 20d Prestige AWD Road Test

Jaguar has been doing exceptionally well as of late. Last year’s Canadian sales more than doubled with 3,034 deliveries compared
2017 Jaguar XE 20d Prestige AWD
No one questions whether or not Jaguar’s XE is good looking. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
to 1,296 in 2015, the latter number already a far cry more to celebrate about than the scarily low 644 sold in 2012. The reason for renewed interest came from growth in its redesigned XF mid-size sedan and a big uptake in F-Type sports car sales, but most importantly from two entirely new models.

Most responsible for Jaguar’s return to relevance has been the fabulous new F-Pace SUV, which came extremely close to matching the entire brand’s Canadian output during the previous year despite only being available since May, while the XE gets points for just being part of the mix, this being the first compact D-segment sport sedan offered by the storied British brand since the Ford Mondeo-based X-Type that was ushered into retirement in 2009. Seven years without
2017 Jaguar XE 20d Prestige AWD
Rear end design is visually clean and uncluttered. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
a competitor in one of the most hotly contested premium segments hasn’t helped Jaguar’s fortunes, but the car they showed up with should give them the respect they need to slowly claw their way back to prominence.

It doesn’t help matters that D-segment buyers are almost as loyal as domestic pickup truck owners. The XE is up against the formidable BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class that seem to swap back and forth for sales leadership that far outpaces all competitors. Next in line is Audi’s A4, while the list of competitors that filled in the gaps during Jaguar’s absence includes Acura’s TLX, Infiniti’s Q50, and Cadillac’s ATS, while Lexus’ IS and Volvo’s S60 have been around since before the X-Type’s departure yet still struggle to match the Germans’ success, a problem
2017 Jaguar XE 20d Prestige AWD
Headlamps have a fitting cat-eye appearance. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Alfa Romeo will likely experience when it fully launches its new Giulia. There are various permutations of these four-door competitors in coupe, convertible and wagon guise too, but for now Jaguar is only offering a sedan.

But what a sedan it is. If the XE isn’t the most attractive D-segment challenger I’m not sure what is. Of course, styling is subjective, with many obviously leaning toward the others, but I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like the new Jag. It smartly pulls design cues from its larger siblings, including the rectangular ovoid grille and cat eye-like headlamps first seen on the XJ and then later inherited by the XF, while its long, horizontal LED taillights are more conservatively penned iterations
2017 Jaguar XE 20d Prestige AWD
Nice details like 18-inch six-spoke alloys separate the mid-grade Prestige from base Premier. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
of both. I must admit my previous XE 35t AWD R-Sport tester looked more enticing than this 20d AWD, which makes sense being that it was a sportier model priced significantly higher, not to mention it came in zesty Italian Racing Red paint over a stunning red on black two-tone interior, but the XE looks handsome in all of its trims, this current Ebony Black coated Prestige trimmed example sporting a standard Jet black cabin with light copper brown stitching in key areas for dramatic effect, plus standard Dark Satin Brushed Aluminum inlays on the instrument panel and doors. It looks more than up to snuff, especially when factoring in all the de rigueur piano black lacquered surfaces, genuine satin-finished and knurled metal detailing, plus of course the various electronic colour interfaces.

It comes up short, however, in its use of substandard hard plastics in an area that others
2017 Jaguar XE 20d Prestige AWD
LED taillights are certainly more conservatively shaped than some rivals. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
go so far as to cover in stitched leather, or at least some sort of soft, pliable composite. I’m talking about the primary instrument hood, the execution of which in the XE (and the F-Pace) was the result of an unfathomably stupid cost-cutting measure that will only hurt Jaguar’s hopes of gaining ground where it’s never had much traction. I’ve said this over and over to obviously deaf ears, but for reasons of insanity will explain again: when a brand is trying to get ahead you need to do better than the class leaders, not under-deliver and hope no one will notice. The lower door panels aren’t finished as well as their German and Swedish counterparts either, but this is an issue with all three Japanese and the lone American model too (again I shake my head in disbelief), the D-segment top-three ahead for a reason.

2017 Jaguar XE 20d Prestige AWD
XE cabin mixes very high-end materials with sub-grade composites. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
of note, where the front seats are very comfortable and most drivers and front passengers should find plenty of room, the back seats didn’t offer much space for my feet, partially due to the rather rugged boot-sized shoes I was wearing at the time. There were about four inches ahead my knees when the driver’s seat was set for my admittedly shorter than average five-foot-eight frame (I’m a good substitute for an average sized teen), which was ample, while I had approximately three inches left above my head. This said I can’t imagine anyone in the middle position being comfortable with their legs straddling the backside of the centre console, while that centre seat really sits up high due to nicely sculpted outboard positions that add extra lateral support. This makes the window seats quite comfortable, the XE more of a four-person car for these reasons.

Rear seat roominess might be an issue for some, but sales won’t be held back due to any lack of technological advancement. A beautiful set of classic circular gauges flank a large, colour, TFT multi-information
2017 Jaguar XE 20d Prestige AWD
Genuine aluminum inlays are standard, as is an 11-speaker 380-watt Meridian audio system. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
display ahead of the driver, this loaded up with key go-to features for quick access with as little driver interference as possible, while over on the centre stack is an especially good infotainment system for a near-base model. My previous tester had the best this car has to offer, a widescreen display boasting navigation with 3D mapping, a surround camera and more, while this lesser 8.0-inch system is still larger than some competitors’ top-tier systems, while incorporating a brilliantly clear reverse camera with active guidelines, plus interfaces for the standard dual-zone auto climate control, a surprisingly superb 11-speaker 380-watt Meridian audio system with HD radio, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, and more.

That infotainment system (other than its Jaguar InControl Touch navigation and apps) gets pulled up from base Premium, which
2017 Jaguar XE 20d Prestige AWD
The XE cockpit is wonderfully driver-oriented. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
also includes some unusually upscale standard features like power-folding auto-dimming heatable side mirrors with memory, pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, rain-sensing variable intermittent wipers, 10-way powered front seats with driver’s side memory, Luxtec pleather upholstery, a powered glass sunroof, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, ultra-flexible 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatbacks that expand on an already large and accommodating 450-litre (15.9 cubic-foot) trunk, and more.

Prestige trim adds 18-inch alloys, proximity-sensing keyless entry, metal front treadplates with bold “JAGUAR” inscriptions, a softer grain leather steering wheel that’s also heatable, a powered steering column, front seat four-way powered lumbar support, heatable front seats, leather upholstery, the aforementioned navigation and infotainment apps, voice recognition, LED mood lighting, and more.

2017 Jaguar XE 20d Prestige AWD
A sporty set of primary gauges combine analog with digital. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
is how my tester came, a Prestige model with no options priced at $49,500 plus freight and dealer fees, which incidentally is $4,500 more than $45,000 base Premium trim. Both Premium and Prestige trims can be equipped with more, the former allowing a $1,500 upgrade from its entry-level 17-inch alloys to the same 18s found on the Prestige model, while the Premium can be upgraded with the plenty of exterior colours as well as the no-cost choice of Jet black, Latte beige, or Oyster light grey interior colour schemes. It can also be equipped with the same softer leather steering wheel with or without heat, although the heated steering wheel requires the $1,000 Cold Climate pack that’s surprisingly not standard here in Canada due to the additional inclusion of heated front seats, a heated windshield and heated wash jets. Being that no Jaguar dealer will want to be caught without the Cold Climate pack we might as well call the XE’s base
2017 Jaguar XE 20d Prestige AWD
The large multi-information display is filled with a colourful array of features. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
price $46,000, but I’d understand if they’d bring a few examples in without the $2,300 optional Vision Pack that includes HID headlamps with LED “J” blade DRLs as well as auto high beams, adaptive cornering technology, and “powerwash” jets, plus front and rear parking sensors and blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic detection. Lastly, base Premium models can be enhanced with some standalone features including the same heatable windshield from the Cold Climate Pack for $400, the Prestige model’s navigation, apps and voice recognition upgrade for $800, satellite radio for $450, and Wi-Fi for $350.

All of the same standalone features not already standard with Prestige trim can be added for the same price, plus Gloss Figured Ebony veneer (a dark hardwood) for $400, a head-up display system for $1,000, while the Vision Pack is also available. New
2017 Jaguar XE 20d Prestige AWD
Nicely organized centre stack is easy to sort out. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
option groups include a $2,000 Comfort and Convenience Pack featuring cooled front seats and heatable rear outboard positions, a powered rear sunshade, and a powered trunk lid, whereas a $2,600 Tech Pack adds the larger 10.2-inch InControl Touch Pro display I previously tested in R-Sport trim, with quicker-responding SSD-based navigation, Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity, 17-speaker 825-watt Meridian audio, and connected services such as a route planning app for door-to-door navigation that shares your ETA with specified contacts, a Commute Mode that learns commuting routes and automatically advises of expected ETAs based on live and historical traffic data, an Arrival Mode that displays 360-degree street level imagery of your destination so you can visually find your way, plus more.

2017 Jaguar XE 20d Prestige AWD
The XE’s base 8.0-inch infotainment display gets navigation in Prestige trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Prestige trims can be upgraded with larger machine-finished 19-inch alloys for $2,000, or optionally a set of $1,000 glossy black 18s that require a $500 upgrade to the Black Design Package which also trims out the grille surround, grille insert, front fender “power vents” and side window surrounds with gloss black instead of chrome.

I wish there was a way to upgrade Prestige trim with some of the active safety features many of today’s buyers want, such as autonomous braking and active lane keeping assist, but instead you’ve got to move up to R-Sport trim which, along with blindspot monitoring and driver condition monitoring, also adds some of the Prestige model’s options as standard such as adaptive cornering HID headlamps with auto high beams, metal doorsill plates, satellite radio, plus front and rear parking sensors, while also including a sportier aero body kit and a fancier interior
2017 Jaguar XE 20d Prestige AWD
A very clear backup camera helps when parking. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
with an R-Sport steering wheel. While all of these features are nice, not everyone wants to spend the $54k needed to partake.

On the positive, you can upgrade your XE Prestige with a $1,000 Adaptive Dynamics air suspension that continuously monitors road surfaces as well as driving style via throttle input, acceleration, cornering, and brake pedal analysis and then adjusts a set of electronically controlled dampers to optimize both ride quality and handling. That’s an order box I’d be sure to check, as I thoroughly enjoyed it with my previous tester.

Then again the standard car drives brilliantly, its stock fully independent suspension featuring a front double-wishbone design pulled over from the brilliantly balanced F-Type sports car, and a subframe-mounted
2017 Jaguar XE 20d Prestige AWD
This tidy array of high-quality two-zone auto HVAC switchgear is especially appealing. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
integral-link rear setup made from hollow forged aluminum for greater strength and lightness. Such engineering advancements come very close to making up for Jaguar skimping on the XE’s interior, because along with the F-Type’s mostly aluminum suspension componentry is a D-segment class-exclusive bonded and riveted aluminum-intensive body structure, 75 percent of which is sourced from recycled materials. Like the suspension it reduces weight while increasing torsional stiffness, which improves performance, quietness, and crash worthiness. Jaguar initially developed this pricey yet much more advanced modular iQ platform architecture for the full-size XJ, one of the better handling cars in its class, but now uses it across its entire range.

It immediately
2017 Jaguar XE 20d Prestige AWD
Jaguar takes its clean and uncluttered exterior design into the interior. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
makes itself known when taking the first fast-paced turn, the XE delivering a level of precise response to steering input and confidence-inspiring poise that few in this class possess. Its standard AWD helps in this respect, thanks to an ability to shift torque up to 90-percent front or rear or alternatively maintain a 50/50-split on low traction surfaces, plus Intelligent Driveline Dynamics software that instantly adjusts to changing road conditions both predictively and reactively. Speed-proportional power steering that lets you feel the road below helps too, as does braking-derived torque vectoring that aids tire grip all-round, Adaptive Surface Response (ASR) that analyses and then adjusts for different road surfaces, and All Surface Progress Control (ASPC) that’s actually pulled over from JLR’s Land Rover 4×4 division, but in the XE’s case it’s more about overcoming a slippery snow covered driveway or icy mountain road than tackling muddy, sandy terrain or wading through river beds.

2017 Jaguar XE 20d Prestige AWD
This rotating gear selector powers up out of the lower console upon startup. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
XE exclusive (or at least it was before BMW brought back its 328d) is turbo-diesel power, its standard 2.0-litre Ingenium four-cylinder producing a strong 180 horsepower and 318 lb-ft of torque (which is much more than the 280 lb-ft of twist offered by the 180-hp Bavarian model) for a speedy 7.9-second sprint from standstill to 100km/h (albeit 0.2 seconds slower than the 328d) and spirited highway passing performance, aided by a quick-shifting eight-speed automatic with manual mode via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The latter is important, as there’s no central shift lever, Jaguar having done away with this space-robbing device and instead installed a rotating gear selector that powers up out of the lower console upon startup. Yup, your friends will be impressed, Sport mode merely needing another twist on the dial from “D” to “S”, while even more performance can be extracted when pressing the left side of a console-mounted rocker switch appropriately adorned with a checkered flag.

Alternatively you can select an Eco mode that along with auto idle-stop will help you eke out almost class-leading highway mileage
2017 Jaguar XE 20d Prestige AWD
Just press the checkered flag for sport mode. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
of 5.8 L/100km (the 328d gets 5.7), while it’s still plenty thrifty around town with a 7.8 L/100km city rating; combined city/highway is 6.9 (the 328 achieves an estimated 7.7 and 6.8 respectively, so we’re splitting hairs as to a winner). The diesel is relatively quiet, especially when put up against some of its peers’ direct-injection gasoline engines, but it’s important for Jaguar to follow through with their promised 2.0-litre turbocharged, direct-injected four-cylinder gas engine here like it has in the U.S. (it makes 240-hp and 251 lb-ft of torque), if only to get its base price down to levels where it can compete more readily with its aforementioned competitors.

2017 Jaguar XE 20d Prestige AWD
Comfortable sport seats are upgraded with leather and heat in Prestige trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
you may realize, all of Jaguar’s German competitors offered turbo-diesel alternatives to their gasoline counterparts in previous generations, but due to VW/Audi’s Dieselgate scandal they’ve pulled their TDIs and may never offer them again (instead opting to go hybrid and full electric), whereas Mercedes-Benz has eliminated its BlueTec diesels as well, but not due to scandalous activity (or at least nothing that made the news). BMW’s diesel obviously meets current North American regulations or its 328d wouldn’t be back in the lineup (it was never pulled, according to Munich, only a late arrival), while Jaguar has gone to great lengths to make its Ingenium diesel exceed regulations. First it passed Euro 6 standards, and since then U.S. and Canadian regs. Being that this diesel arrived after Dieselgate, regulators would’ve been especially strict in testing, which means buyers should have nothing to worry about with respect to current or future emissions requirements.

2017 Jaguar XE 20d Prestige AWD
Rear seats are reasonably roomy for outboard passengers, but not so much in the middle. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
the XE incorporates a comparatively expensive diesel into its base model, along with standard AWD, and then packs the car full of standard features not always available with base competitors, is the car’s true weakness (the lower British pound actually gives the XE a competitive edge over German-made rivals), but only from a sales and marketing perspective. It provides good value for money, especially when factoring in its advanced aluminum body shell and chassis technology, but it nevertheless has the highest base price in its class. Let’s face it. Most of us don’t arrive at a dealership with any intention of paying as much as we actually do when we drive away. Instead we might read a review that’s all too often missing important details, see the base price without accounting for all the upgrades of the as-tested model, and then proceed to fall in love with all the extras while behind the wheel on the test drive. As it is, the $45k needed
2017 Jaguar XE 20d Prestige AWD
A large trunk gets handy 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks for stowing longer items. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
for a base XE puts it out of contention, even before potential customers leave their kitchen tables to go car shopping, which leaves them checking out the $35,690 TLX, $37,695 ATS, $38,500 A4, $38,800 S60, $39,900 Q50, $40,150 IS, $41,200 3 Series, $44,000 C-Class, or any number of other alternatives instead. Jaguar will want to add a gasoline-powered four-cylinder and then remove some base content from the XE in order to get it into the low $40k range, at which point it can lure in more customers that can be upsold to fancier trims after they fall in love.

And believe me, given the chance plenty will fall head over heals for the new XE, as it’s an especially good performance sedan that delivers well in almost every respect.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)