Work With What You’ve Got
L.A. traffic is a rightly-maligned blight on an otherwise agreeable corner of the world, but sitting bumper-to-bumper in the Jaguar XE gives me a chance to notice the details that will blur together later when the flow speed picks up. Despite its small stature – I’m 5’7″ and my head touches the ceiling in the backseat – Jaguar has worked to impart a feeling of space where perhaps there isn’t as much as one would desire. This includes scalloping the interior door panels to create a tall wrap-around beltline that visually broadens the car’s cockpit (even if it doesn’t do much to help those slouching in the rear). As per usual Jaguar has managed to properly balance XE-specific styling cues with the economic realities of parts commonality between all of its models, although I lament the decidedly old-school gauge cluster that side-steps the incoming tide of bright and attractive TFT displays.
Once moving at a more respectable pace, the Jaguar’s character begins to shine through more clearly. Boasting an aluminium-intensive design that keeps curb weight low without sacrificing a pleasing insulation from the hustle and bustle of the outside world, the XE’s 340 horsepower, 3.0L supercharged V6 is responsive to the spur of right foot, surging the car forward with a snarl. An eight-speed automatic transmission is the only gearbox on offer, but it’s the same unit found in the amazing Jaguar F-Type roadster and coupe, which means the quick swapping of cogs as well as several drive modes ranging from commute-oriented Drive to the more engaging ‘Dynamic’ setting. The supercharged V6 is the top-tier edition of the car for the 2017 model year – there’s also an efficiency-focused turbodiesel motor to be had with the sedan, as well as a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder gas motor at the entry level. All-wheel drive will be optional with the XE.