The baby Jaguar can finally be specified with a diesel engine. But does an oil-burner go well with the XE’s sporty character?
Jaguar has positioned the petrol variants of the XE as the sporty choice among luxury sedans. But, in a segment where diesels still reign supreme, it needed something to take the diesel A4, 3-series and C-class, and that's where the XE 20d steps in. It is powered by a 2.0-litre, turbo-diesel engine that makes 180hp and 430Nm. These numbers are 10hp down and 30Nm up, respectively, on what the A4 35TDI and 320d's engines make, but are more than the Mercedes-Benz C 220d's.
The weak link in the package is the rear bench. The seat itself is really comfortable but you just can't stretch out here like you can in its rivals. Really, the best place to be is behind the wheel. Do note, the XE is one of those cars where the trim level you opt for dictates how much you'll like the cabin. Base Pure and mid-spec Prestige versions as the model tested get rather drab all-black interiors, while the fully-loaded Portfolio trim's dual-tone combo is far more appealing. Opt for a lower variant and you'll also have to make do with a smaller touchscreen infotainment system and fewer comfort features.
This 2.0-litre motor is the same one that powers the bigger XF, and its punchy nature goes down well with the XE's sporty pretensions. The engine feels quicker than its claimed 9-second 0-100kph time would suggest and acceleration during regular driving is good too.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox also does an impressive job of swapping cogs, especially in Dynamic drive mode, where power is on tap from the word go. The XE also adapts well to a relaxed driving style. The gearbox keeps engine revs and noise levels low. It's just that the engine isn't as quiet as it ought to be. The engine grumbles a bit every time you want to make a quick move, and you just won't get the same sense of calm in the cabin as you would in the Audi A4 35TDI.
Like its petrol sibling, the XE diesel succeeds in putting the driver at the heart of the action. It's an absolute joy to drive on curvy roads, plus, ride quality is impressive too. It's only on some occasions that the XE will thud and thump on our roads.
If you are interested in an XE diesel, you'll be best off extending your budget and splurging on the fully loaded Portfolio variant, which at ₹43.21 lakh (ex-showroom, India), costs about the same as top-spec rival sedans. But, if you are willing to do so, why not just go for the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol-powered XE 25t Portfolio that actually costs about ₹1 lakh less? Yes, It will be more expensive to run than the diesel but a sporty sedan like the XE needs a fitting engine. And in this regard, the 25t's 240hp petrol is it.