2017 Jaguar XE - Lead Photo

Introducing Jaguar’s all-new XE entry-level sedan, the automaker’s first new compact sedan since the X-Type in years and one I got to toss around an autocross track.

The automaker is going after a the highly-competitive sports sedan segment, and it’s like Jag took the best elements of its lineup and amalgamated them to create a new family member, the young lippy one.

Before we dive in, three things to note:

1 – what you see here is a pre-production version shipped up from Mexico for this event, so minor details may change by the time the vehicle debuts in showrooms in spring of 2016.

2 – I was allotted 2 laps in the XE before being shuttled off to the next portion of the event, as in, not a tonne of time to test, plus take photos and make a video so sorry about some of the grainy pics.

2017 Jaguar XE - Engine

The XE shares the same engine as its older sibling the XJ, a V6 outputting 340hp and 332 lb-ft of torque which will propel it from 0-100 in 5.1 seconds.

However!

The key is this new sedan’s wheelbase is a full three inches shorter than the XJ (non-car nerds: in auto design, millimetres make a huge difference, so 3” is a massive reduction.)

2017 Jaguar XE - 3 inch shorter than XJ

That shorter wheelbase, combined with a stiffer suspension and a 400 lbs. weight reduction (helped by the extensive use of aluminum,) and the result is a driver’s car.

Where the XJ is a “let’s be comfortable while getting groceries,” this XE is for enthusiasts. Its less insulated cabin and stiffer suspension means the driver will both feel and hear the road much more. And with its deep exhaust note reminiscent of the F-TYPE, that’s good!

That reduction also translates into a smaller backseat but really, who wants rear passengers anyway.

2017 Jaguar XE - Back Seat

The R-Sport trim you see in these photos increases the size of the front air intake, adds satin chrome side vents, gloss black side window surrounds, side sills, a rear spoiler and optional 20-inch forged alloy wheels. The price to upgrade has not yet been announced.

2017 Jaguar XE - Interior 1

Its electric steering is amazingly precise. It’s stiff suspension – helped by the double wishbones upfront – sticks to the road with barely any body roll. Its 8-speed transmission shifts smoothly and efficiently.

2017 Jaguar XE - Interior Elements

Inside is the automaker’s usual fine finishings – leather wrapped everything, wood and aluminum touches to complete a cockpit that wraps around the driver.  The instrument panel will look familiar to Jaguar fans, as will the gearshift knob.

Not sure about the two-tone interior option – seems a bit busy – but styling is subjective, so enough about that.

2017 Jaguar XE - Interior Two-Tone

Also all-new is the infotainment system, Jaguar’s InControl system. Operated from an 8” capacitive touch screen, the system is faster than the outgoing model, and now allows owners to use their smartphone to remotely control the car including locking / unlocking the doors, and remotely starting the vehicle then pre-heat or cooling it.

2017 Jaguar XE - Interior 2

The compact sports sedan segment is highly competitive, and the XE will have to challenge Audi’s A3, BMW’s 3 Series, Cadillac’s ATS and Mercedes’ C-Class.

With a starting price of $48,500, this Jaguar’s price falls in line with its competitors but offers far more horsepower and torque, in some instances +100. Moreover, all Canadian XEs will be equipped with standard All-wheel Drive. That’s why I expect this XE to dominate this segment.

Plus there will be diesel offering – $3,500 less – and there’s a rumour of a manual version to come…. let’s hope it’s true.

2017 Jaguar XE - Why do I always stop like this

But let’s be honest – this segment is really about the badge and exclusivity. The XE gets all the points for exclusivity since it’s never before existed, and what do I always tell you about this badge?

Jaguar is the car version of old money.