First Drive: Jaguar XE Diesel Portfolio is a driver's delight

When Tata Motors-owned British marquee Jaguar Land Rover introduced the much awaited entry level Jaguar XE car in India way back in 2016, it shook the segment. It was only offered with a petrol engine and that too the wonderful Jaguar XE 25T.

Now the brand has introduced the diesel version of its XE sedan in the country to drive volumes in the fiercely competitive luxury car market dominated by German rivals such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

I test drove the top-end variant called the Jaguar XE 2.0 L Diesel Portfolio extensively to check out what it promises on the Indian roads.

No doubt, the launch of the Jaguar XE diesel fills a gaping hole in brand’s Jaguar’s line-up in the country. After positioning the petrol XEs as the sporty choice among luxury sedans, the carmaker decided the diesel version to take head on diesel rivals such as Audi A4, BMW 3-Series and Mercedes C-Class.

The new Jaguar XE diesel is powered by four-cylinder, 2.0-litre Ingenium, turbo-diesel engine in its 180hp and 430Nm state of tune.

The signature horseshoe grille and muscular lines on the bonnet dominate the face while in profile, you can see that the positioning of the A-pillar is in conjunction with the long hood gives the car a GT feel.  Also, the family look is visible at the rear as you get the same tail lamps in the F-Pace and obviously in the F-Type sportscar too. The off-set tail pipes and subtle lip spoiler are all elements seen in other Jaguar models and are signature elements from the Ian Callum school of design.

Inside, the Jaguar XE the car offers a speedboat style cowl running across both ends of the dashboard while the beige and black colour scheme present both on the upholstery and plastics does well to up the premium factor in the cabin. Of particular notice is the ‘Theater of dreams’ floating gear knob which pulsates when it rises from the dashboard as you start the car.

Other features include the dual-zone climate control with dual rear vents, electric seats (sans lumbar support), instrument cluster with digital display cruise control and a touchscreen infotainment system with smart phone integration and downloadable apps. The infotainment system has all the requisite features to put it on par with its rivals, but still lacks the finesse of its German counterparts.

Undoubtedly, the front seats offer good bolstering and thanks to the soft leather, you can sink right in and enjoy the long drive on the highway as you cruise along. However, the rear seats are a bit inadequate especially, for tall people with a height of six-feet, as the sloping roofline eats into the head room.

The Jaguar XE diesel is powered by four-cylinder, 2.0-litre Ingenium, turbo-diesel engine which churns out 180hp and 430Nm of torque. The XE range sold in India is purely RWD and this is achieved through an eight-speed ZF automatic.

You also get a great heft of torque at 2000rpm mark and depending on your throttle and your driving mode, the sedan can be pushed into three-digit speeds pretty easily. In the Eco mode the throttle is restrained and the car upshifts early while in the Dynamic mode your shift point comes in at a higher RPM. With the Sport mode activated, you can hold the revvs all the way till the red line and then let the gearbox shift or do it yourself using the paddles behind the steering wheel.

The Jaguar XE is also adapts well to a relaxed driving style. The gearbox keeps engine revs and noise levels low. It is just that the engine is not as quiet as it ought to be. Throttle inputs are usually accompanied by a grumble from the engine and there is a drone in the mid-range too.

On a long drive on the highway though, the ride is really nice, comfortable and even sporty. You get a really responsive steering through which you can feel everything that is going and as you build up the speed, it gets heavier and responds accordingly, egging you on to push the car and feel the thrill. It is indeed a great joy to drive the XE on curvy roads. Ride quality like the petrol version is really good too and only on rare occasions the sedan will thud and thump on Indian roads that we have.

Should I buy one?

Although Jaguar is a bit late to the game, the brand has carefully crafted and equipped the XE to give the car whatever it takes to succeed in the segment. Without a doubt, you will always stand out on Indian roads with a Jaguar badge simply because of its exclusivity in terms of presence. Overall, this diesel XE is fun to drive and efficient, even though it could have been a little bit refined compared with its rivals. Yet with a price band of Rs 47 lakh at Mumbai showroom, you would not hesitate to make a buying decision.