2018 Jaguar XE S AWD Drivers
The 2018 Jaguar XE S AWD plays in a tough segment. The relative newcomer jumps into the fray with the BMW 3 Series, the Mercedes-Benz C Class, Audi A4 and Cadillac ATS. While it’s available with a number of engine and drivetrain combinations, this model came with the top-tier 380-horsepower supercharged V6, the same one found in the Jaguar F-Type. It transforms the XE from a calm but capable sport sedan into a real hotrod.
Our test car had nearly all the bells and whistles Jaguar offers. The Firenze Red paint was accented by blacked-out trim, giving it a far cooler look than the standard chrome brightwork does. The interior features red-and-black heated and ventilated leather seats, carbon-fiber trim, a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system and more. It comes with adaptive cruise control, but, as we learned, you need to scrape all the ice off the sensors for it to play ball.
Associate Editor Reese Counts: I have a love/hate relationship with snow. I utterly despise the white stuff when it’s 6:30 a.m. and I’m digging out my driveway and dreaming of the warm pillow I left behind as my pants slowly soak through and the fine motor control in my fingers decides to call it quits. Then I get behind the heated steering wheel of something like the XE S AWD and all my anger fades behind the plume of snow being thrown up by the tires. Sport sedans in the winter are amazing.
I’m a big fan of the XE. Our old long-term diesel was a great little sedan, even if not everyone agreed with my sentiments. This platform is capable of so much more than the diesel can deliver. The XE S ditches that car’s fuel-efficient-but-clattery oil burner for the sweet soundtrack of a supercharged V6, the same one that’s under the hood of our current long-term F-Pace S. It’s paired with ZF’s ubiquitous eight-speed automatic and sends 380 horsepower to all four wheels. It feels damn near unstoppable in the snow.
I’ll be honest, I was flat-footing the car everywhere I went. I was searching for unplowed roads or empty parking lots because I just wanted to make the car dance. The all-wheel-drive system is rear biased, giving you enough of a leash to let loose without spinning out. The throttle response from the V6 was smooth and instant. It was easy to manage the car’s angle just using the gas. The XE S was so good at clawing its way through the snow, I was convinced it was wearing winter rubber until I looked and saw a set of Pirelli all-seasons.
When I wasn’t hooning it, the XE S proved to be every bit as quiet and comfortable as I remember. The heated windshield proved its worth when removing the car from its snowy cocoon. Same goes for the heated seats and steering wheel. The infotainment is still disappointing, but the audio system sounds better than most in this class. Now I just need to get a rear-wheel-drive model out in the summer. For science.
Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore: How’s this for a Christmas present that came early: a bright red AWD Jaguar XE S. I felt like I was in a December car commercial driving this thing around town in the wake of a massive snowstorm and with my golden retriever puppy in the back (on a towel).
I continue to be impressed with the XE. The car is easy to set up for energetic driving and offers a connected experience to the road. The steering and suspension are tuned to provide the right amount of feedback. It’s sporty, but not overtly challenging. The exhaust sounds good — throaty without being too much. The 3.0-liter blown V6 is the engine you should get with the XE. It’s awesome. There are more efficient choices, but in this car, the big engine really gives it life.
Officially, the paint color is called Firenze Red, which is a spectacular name. With 19-inch, 15-spoke wheels with gloss black inserts, it makes a statement. Our long-term XE in dreadnaught gray was just a bit too subtle for me. Regardless of color, Jaguar nailed the design with this sedan. The proportions are perfect, and the creases and curves hang elegantly. I’d say the XE has a cleaner look than the Mercedes C-Class, and it strikes a similar tone to the austere BMW 3 Series.
It’s a tough market for sedans, but Jaguar has a solid one in the XE. And with all-wheel drive and the S trimmings, it’s a festive experience for enthusiasts.