On a closed course the Jaguar XE proves itself to be a willing playmate. It’s here that the decision to focus on keeping the mass of the car low has paid particular dividends, as body roll through fast corners is less perceptible than in other luxury four-doors of similar size. The XE is willing to pivot, slide, and hustle its way around the pylons of the admittedly short-and-tight autocross course Jaguar set up for our amusement, but after several laps it’s clear that the same engineering expertise that makes even the extended-wheelbase XJ L executive car fun to drive has only been amplified by the XE’s smaller package. Braking is authoritative, if a little touchy in regular motoring, and Jaguar’s experience in tuning the F-Type’s electric power steering system is borne out by the sedan’s above-average feel through the wheel.

A New Beginning, Again

It takes more than a California afternoon to determine just how much stock one should put in the 2017 Jaguar XE’s bid to unseat the 3 Series from its throne. That being said, my time with the car showed me that the baby Jag has all the right moves to at the very least make a run at carving out a slice of the luxury segment it’s been tapped to invade. Coupled with its aggressive, yet not overly menacing styling, its comfortable ride, and its mix of power and frugality when it comes to engine options, the Jaguar XE is as legitimate a contender as any other compact premium sedan.

Sometimes moving forward means you have to choose between what you can afford to take with you into the future, and what needs to be left behind so that it doesn’t weigh down your aspirations. By keeping Jaguar’s sporting DNA alive, but jettisoning the Old World attitude and embracing the outsider spirit in both its marketing message and its vehicle strategy, Jaguar has successfully created a new identity written it out in aluminium, glass, and just a touch of adrenaline.

Pricing: 2017 Jaguar XE
2017 Jaguar XE 20d: $45,000
2017 Jaguar XE 30t: $48,500
Trims (pricing TBA): Prestige, R-Sport

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