• 2018 Jaguar XE 20d

The 2018 Jaguar XE 20d is Proof That Diesels aren’t Dead

There are so few diesels left on the market and the XE 20d might just be Jaguar's best kept secret.

Kunal Dsouza By: Kunal Dsouza April 11, 2018
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I came across an online petition recently that was titled “Ban the sale of gasoline and diesel cars in Canada.”

Its mission is to implore Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to follow suit with other countries, like the U.K. and France, and call a total ban of these fossil fuel burning cars in 22 years or sooner. On last check about 10,000 people had signed. I wonder how many of them actually own electric vehicles.

Personally, I think people are getting a bit ahead of themselves; jumping on the electric bandwagon, so to speak, without actually considering both sides of the equation.

Gasoline and diesel engines are more advanced and more efficient than ever before; they consume much less fuel and are considerably cleaner at the tailpipe. They are only getting better and to ban them would be foolish.

Even after VW pulled their diesels out of North America, current owners didn’t just suddenly start selling. In fact the resale values of diesels are still some of the highest in the industry, a testament to their desirability and vaunted efficiency.

Electric vehicles still only account for about 1% of vehicle sales in Canada and Plug-in Hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt and Honda Clarity are not much better at about 1.5%.

Millions of new EVs on the roads will bring its own set of implications. It means millions of expensive batteries will be needed and there will be millions of people plugging in to charge their cars. Prices of rare (sometimes unethically sourced) earth metals like lithium and cobalt will continue to soar to unprecedented levels.

The resources and power grid improvements needed to make this a possibility are enormous. A city like Toronto, with its aging power grid, can barely meet consumer demand now.

Ok, so the charging infrastructure is getting better and it’s currently more than adequate to meet the customer demand provided you don’t venture too far from a major city centre. And venturing too far is something that most people wouldn’t try with battery power alone. Range anxiety has always been the EVs’ Achilles heel.

Battery science is tough and research is slow-moving and it might be a long time before battery powered vehicles are capable of long distance travel and super quick charge times.

There is one such tech that can do that now and it has been around a long time and it’s not a secret. It’s diesel—a word so unpopular on this side of the map that all but a handful of cars powered by this fuel are available today.

The Jaguar XE 20d is one of them (Jaguar stuff finally. I know. Sorry) and the fact that it’s a real sports sedan is absolutely brilliant. I have always loved the sports sedan category and a well sorted one like this XE is the best way to have your cake and eat it to.

My Firenze Red tester was a mid-level prestige model and came equipped with all the usual infotainment stuff expected today. It also featured the Vision Assist pack that came with parking cameras, blind-spot monitors, lane departure alert and autonomous emergency braking.

These are features that work well in most cars that I test, but also something that I promptly turn off upon entry. It’s ok in certain types of cars but I like to be in total control of vehicles that have sporting intentions.

While the interior was well laid out with good ergonomics, the overall quality left a little to be desired; the trim and plastics around the centre console felt a bit chintzy.

On a car with a sticker price north of $50K you do expect better and the XE is lagging behind the competition in this regard.

2018 Jaguar XE 20d interior2018 Jaguar XE 20d interior

It’s a bit unfortunate as outside Ian Callum’s design direction translates perfectly to this smallest of Jaguar sedans. It looks like a baby XF in all the best ways. The sheet metal is wrapped tightly around a muscular frame with a graceful character line running the length of the body.

It’s refined and athletic without the use of any extra embellishments or body cladding. I’m not a big fan of red on cars, but it really works on the XE.

While the interior can definitely use a bit of a polish, handling is where the XE shines.

The chassis is extremely stiff and handles whatever you can throw at it with aplomb. Even sitting on squishy winter tires there was a ton of grip and excellent feedback through the seat-of-my-pants.

The steering was too light for my tastes and dynamic mode did little to firm it up. Regardless it was accurate and placed the car where I wanted it to go. Once you have chosen your line the car holds its arc with minimal steering inputs and is virtually unfazed when encountering mid-corner bumps.

The Jaguar really holds it own against the German competition here and hits the nail on the head when it comes to the ride/handling balance. Some of the competitors put so much starch in their suspension it feels like their tires are filled with concrete, and that gets old very fast.

2018 Jaguar XE 20d2018 Jaguar XE 20dI was also happy to see a real spare tire in the trunk as many have replaced these with a can of slime and an air compressor to save weight and money.

This 2 liter oil burner produces 180hp and a chunky 318 lb-ft of torque from as low as 1750rpm. Full disclosure: this is the slowest XE out there with a 0-60 time of 7.9 seconds but it feels much quicker, especially in the city, than that number suggests.

Now while the diesel might not be the sportiest choice of engine, it is by far and away the most economical as evidenced by my outstanding average fuel economy of 5.5L/100 km (51 mpg Imperial; 43 mpg US) over the course of a week. What’s best is I did not drive with economy in mind; my goal was to enjoy the car and drive it like a sports sedan should be driven.

This is not something easily achieved with EVs, PHEVs and even hybrids. In order to really get good economy out of those cars one has to really concentrate on every throttle input, making sure to accelerate and brake gradually at all times or risk siphoning too much charge from the battery packs.

Hypermiling is a type of driving technique that maximizes fuel efficiency and while the gains can be significant with any car, it can be a very stressful way to drive.

This is one of the reasons I’m such a big fan of diesels. You can drive them without constantly eyeing the fuel gauge and achieve numbers you just didn’t think were possible.

I left the car in dynamic mode for most of the week and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the XE remembers what drive mode you left the car in and doesn’t just default back to normal or comfort like so many of the other marques.

2018 Jaguar XE 20d

Jaguar does offer more powerful engines should efficiency not be your ultimate goal. The base engine is an Ingenium 2 Litre turbo 4 that makes 247hp followed by another 2 Litre 4 cylinder, that also sees duty in the base F-Type, producing a more significant 296 horses. The top of the line XE S models get JLR’s 380 hp supercharged V6.

EVs are certainly getting better, but they are still only good for short to medium distances. Urban driving is where they shine and in my opinion that is where they should be focused. The XE diesel can easily get 1000 km of range from a tank of diesel, can be filled up in a few minutes and puts a smile on your face when you drive it. Even in 22 years I doubt EVs will offer that sort of capability and range.

I could very well be wrong, but the fact that many automakers are going back to the drawing board and rethinking diesel bodes well for my prediction. We could soon start to see more diesels appear on our shores and that would be great news indeed.

2018 Jaguar XE 20d AWD Prestige

BODY STYLE: Compact Premium Luxury Sedan

DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, All-wheel drive.

ENGINE:  2.0 L 4 cylinder Turbo Diesel Power: 180hp@4000 rpm; Torque: 318lb-ft @1750-2500 rpm

TRANSMISSION:  ZF 8-speed Automatic

CARGO CAPACITY: 450 L

FUEL ECONOMY: (Premium) 7.8/5.8/6.9 L/100 km city/highway/combined.

PRICE: $50,200(base) as tested $58,560

WEBSITE: Jaguar.ca

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