Volkswagen’s ‘Dieselgate’ scandal is still fresh in the minds of many Canadians. Diesels, once purported to be loud, clunky and constantly puffing black smoke, seemed to come a long way in recent years. But then it was discovered that Volkswagen Group’s diesels were cheating on North American emissions standards. The stigma on diesel, to some consumers, was back. Since Volkswagen pulled all of its diesel models from the North American market, some companies have seen that as an opportunity to capitalize on a market that lost its biggest player. This new compact sedan from Jaguar is a car hoping to do just that.
As part of a new series reviewing autos, Global News put the all new Jaguar XE diesel to the test.
What is it?
Jaguar’s new XE model is a compact luxury sedan, taking aim at the likes of the BMW 3-series, Cadillac ATS and Mercedes Benz C-class. Jaguar offers the XE with both diesel and gasoline engines, with the diesel being the cheaper option. This is typically not the case. Competitors like BMW often price their diesel options several steps above the base model. The XE, like much of Jaguar’s current lineup, is comprised largely of aluminum. The lightweight metal, much of it recycled, cuts down on environmental impact during production, increases fuel efficiency and, according to Jaguar designers, simplifies repair work in the event of an accident.
How is the diesel engine?
Diesel has never had a strong foothold in North America. Early diesel cars were rough, loud and severely down on power versus their gasoline counterparts. It’s a reputation that seemed to linger for decades. Overseas in Europe, where gasoline is priced higher and taxed more heavily, diesel vehicles are a more popular alternative due to their improved fuel economy. This Jaguar XE diesel is a rare sight on the North American market, but perhaps one day it might not be so uncommon. Jaguar already offers diesel variants on two other models in their lineup and other manufacturers are expected to follow.
The XE Diesel isn’t a very powerful car. But it doesn’t need to be. The turbocharged engine packs enough torque to get you going from a standstill. There’s no struggle keeping up with highway traffic or navigating winding mountain roads. An 8-speed automatic transmission helps keep the engine running efficiently. While sheer top speed may be lacking, the fuel economy more than makes up for it. Our tester offered over 800 kilometres of range from a 56-litre fuel tank. This figure of course changes with driving habits and use of features like air conditioning. It’s estimated the XE can reach fuel economy numbers of up to 5.8 L/100km, or about 69km to the gallon. Diesel engines will also need an occasional refill of AdBlue – an additive used to help diesel engines achieve cleaner emissions. These refills are typically done for a small fee when the vehicle is being serviced.
How much will it cost me?
With its fuel economy rating, the XE is quite economical to live with. Starting at $45,000, it is more expensive than some of its competitor’s base models. But when looking at diesel specifically, the XE does present better value compared to a similar offering from BMW. For those looking for something even more affordable, Chevrolet’s new Cruze and Equinox will soon be offered with a diesel engine. But from a luxury car standpoint, the XE is good value for money if diesel is a must.
Our XE, featuring the optional R-Sport trim, is a far cry from the base $45,000 price tag. Featuring optional extras like sport bucket seats, lane keeping assistance, driver fatigue monitoring and traffic detection, the R-Sport pushes the price tag to $54,000. The base model is still well equipped however, with a leather interior, standard All Wheel Drive, backup camera and a 12-channel Meridian sound system. The touchscreen interface unfortunately does not support Android Auto or Apple CarPlay yet, so if navigation is a must, you’ll have to pay up.
What’s the bottom line?
Diesel buyers are wary after what happened with Volkswagen. But since VW pulled their entire diesel lineup from North America, other manufacturers instead see an opening to a new market once dominated by a single manufacturer. Jaguar’s XE is one of those new players to the game. It’s a stylish, economical and relatively affordable entry that can get you in the luxury car market without completely breaking the bank.