Welcome to another in what could easily be a lifelong series of short, sober road tests. Most cars spend 95% of their lives parked and the remaining 5% aren’t spent testing the physics of an arc on those alpine switchbacks brazenly displayed in publications like this one. Rather, for the rest of us, our vehicles’ trips are more mundane, even if the vehicles themselves — step forward and take a bow, Jaguar XE — are not.
The week I was fortunate enough to pilot this lovely power sedan fell toward the tail-end of what’s seemed like an inexhaustible 3-month ice storm. For weeks, the city was regularly flushed upon with gobs of 1-degree rain that would flash-freeze in sudden minus-20 winds minutes later.
The XE is well prepared with heated washer jets and a heated front windscreen. (That’s even before you put it in drive.) Once you enter via the passive keyless entry, the driver seat memory, standard with the base price of $61,500, gets aggressive, reminding you how fat you’ve become in winter. But, back to the problem of the incessant cold. The steering wheel is heated and the ambient interior temperature warms to comfort levels almost as quickly as the windows clear.
All-wheel drive drives all four Pirelli tyres (sic; they’re British). Together they grip the slick surface off the parking pad, ride easily down the icy lane without sliding into the kerb (sic; they’re British).
Now, enjoy the ride. The liquor store’s not even a kilometre’s walk but, since we’re downtown with a maze of one-way streets, the (legal) drive there is almost two.
The driver sport seat’s a firm yet comfortable cocoon that bends 14 ways. The passenger’s seat is also 14-direction adjustable but who takes passengers to the liquor store after around the age of 22? Together, they’re part of the S package, a detailed list of sporty additions to the look and, more important, the feel of the drive. It also includes some choice safety features like the lane-keeping and driver drowsiness aids and useful conveniences like the sport carpet mats.
The five minutes from the front of the house to the driver’s favourite destination is pockmarked with craters, between which race drivers possessed by Satan. Regardless of the time of day or night, they want to beat you to either set of traffic lights en route. Turn the elegant disc that Jaguar offers in lieu of a gear shift to sport mode and they won’t. A throaty six-cylinder engine that generates 380 hp throws you forward with 450 ft-lb of torque. Back off, buddy! We’re going to the liquor store!
You beat not just the other drivers but the second light itself and now have arrived in style. How much style? The homeless woman who sits in front of the liquor store for a living, smiles and asks if you’ve won the lottery. The ego swells! Acknowledgement from the fan base? This calls for a special purchase!
A vinho verde to bribe the sun to return … and a $2 tin of beer for the homeless woman who smiles for a living in front of the store. You slither gingerly across the parking lot whose surface is like a freshly zambonied glacier.
But out here, some of that 95% of the time when the XE is just sitting there, it looks especially fit. The colour, Fuji White, resists dirt surprisingly well in the endlessly filthy city winter. It’s not the shining white of a ‘60s refrigerator but boasts a cloudier depth and richness.
Like an expensive brassiere strap, the red callipers peek flirtatiously from between the five chunky spokes of the 19” wheels. The adaptive xenon headlamps seem to glow before ignition like cat’s eyes. Appropriate. The 300 fewer metres on the return trip (see above regarding one-way roads) feel great.
Base price: $61,500
As driven: $67,500