I still have yet to meet a single Volkswagen diesel owner who has immediately given up on their car in the wake of Dieselgate, and it seems that quite a few of them have even complimented the automaker for the way in which it has handled the entire situation. We like diesel, and regardless of what happens to Volkswagen, we’ll continue to appreciate oil-burning engines for what they can offer.
That meant celebrating when Jaguar announced that it would be offering its awaited entry-level sport sedan with a turbo diesel option. The old saying “There’s no such thing as bad press” sure rings true in this situation, because for as much of a fiasco as Dieselgate has become, it certainly has gotten many to actually pay attention to what has long been an underdog powertrain in the U.S. of A.
What started last winter with the Range Rover Td6 has passed the torch on to a little four-cylinder JLR option that puts down 180 horsepower and 318 pound-feet of torque. It’s a 2.0-liter motor that’s been badged with Jaguar’s latest “Ingenium” engineering, and damn does it deliver the goods.
But despite the inherent positives of JLR’s diesel units, the diesel version of the Jaguar XE may not be for everyone. Remember, there are turbo four-cylinder gas versions and bonkers-fast supercharged V6 variants out there, so if you don’t like what you see here today, know that the Brits have you covered in a variety of other areas as well.
Let’s start on a high note: Jaguar has done a great job of turning itself around after decades of being labeled as unreliable, over-priced slabs of soft luxury engineering. For those of you out there who are worried about reliability and resale value, remember that India-based Tata Motors has been allocating ungodly sums of money into JLR in the hopes of turning one of the most iconic automakers in history into a genuine automotive wrecking ball. So don’t fret, because this is not the Jaguar of the early aughts, and anyone wanting solid engineering and a decent warranty need not look any further.
Another person who will likely enjoy the turbo diesel XE is the efficiency fanatic. Even at 12,000 feet where our little 2.0-liter engine was under-powered and overworked by 36%, the fuel economy was outstanding. In order to get a somewhat fair estimate of what this little sedan can do, we reset the MPG gauge to zero once we came down from the Continental Divide, and over the course of the next 20 miles, we charted how well the engine worked in Eco mode. With an average speed of 70 miles per hour on terrain that was pretty flat, with zero stop signs or major deceleration, the XE averaged a staggering 67.4 miles per gallon, a number that will surely drop during everyday driving, but is commendable nevertheless.
Technology buffs are also going to enjoy the XE. In order to get those extreme fuel gains, the monitoring of vital engine and efficiency numbers has to happen. Driving habits make up more of the perks you see at the pump than you might think, so being able to track the position of your foot on the accelerator, the kind of steering inputs you are giving it, and the way in which you shift and brake can make a huge difference when tech-heavy guidance systems are put in play. Add the number of infotainment and nerdy car stats prolific in Jaguar’s 10.2-inch InControl Touch Pro, and you’ve got a major selling point for luring in potential buyers.
The last kind of buyer who will likely love the XE, and perhaps the most important, is the active millennial buyer who is looking at entry-level luxury options. Equipped with all-wheel drive, a roof rack that is stylishly designed to hold everything from kayaks to skis, and a price point that starts in the upper $30,000s, the diesel XE lands right where it should. It provides an excellent value for all-around versatility and standard features, and since Jaguar has been missing out on this crucial segment, you better believe it is making up for lost time.
But for all of its strong suits, the XE does have its downsides, and while there may not be a lot of them, it behooves us to make mention of what might be unappealing to certain kinds of drivers. This is a vehicle that some critics consider to be nearly flawless, and while it may not be the most earth-shattering design, it certainly has more strengths than weaknesses, even if it isn’t your kind of car to begin with.
The biggest turn-off about the XE in diesel trim is its powerband. While 318 foot-pounds of torque sounds quite good on paper, there still is noticeable lag right off the line, and once boost builds, you feel like the engine is working harder than it should. Naturally, this could be partially due to the higher elevations at which we were testing the vehicle, but even at sea level, we could see some people wanting more from a Jaguar. In that case, we would point them toward either the turbo gas version or the supercharged V6.
People who want or need lots of space probably aren’t going to like the XE very much either. It’s got enough rear legroom so that a six-foot person can sit behind a person of similar stature without issue, but it’s going to border on being too tight. The trunk is also not very tall, and although it may be acceptable depth-wise, it could prove problematic for anyone wanting to load larger items.
The final kind of person who might want to steer clear of the XE is the long term money miser. Although Jaguar does offer the best luxury warranty on the market today, and it has made leaps and bounds in the tech and engineering departments, there still is the concern that as they get on in years they could be saddled with expensive, luxury-car level maintenance costs. While we have been reassured by Jaguar that these new models will be as reliable as a Lexus and just as indestructible, it might be worth it to some buyers to wait and see how things play out prior to committing to something like the diesel XE.