Good kitty! 2018 Jaguar XE 20d 

The d is for diesel.

As you’d expect from a compact Jaguar sedan, the XEd takes much of the sting out of a midlife crisis, but without inflicting penury. Drivers enjoy a pleasing combination of envy-invoking style and road-conquering performance.

Live in a city with too many drivers, many of whom are jackasses? Introduce them to kitty’s sport mode. The (heated!) steering becomes more of a laser beam, the suspension more of a helmet, while the throttle becomes a hangman for rivals on the road. If you’re a type-a personality (not uncommon with Jag’s E-type drivers) use the paddles to up- and downshift.

It’s more than enough overcome that resentful contractor in his pickup who accelerates to choke would-be mergers, innocently feigning a lack of peripheral vision. (You know who you are.)

Here in Canada, it appears you can only purchase the XE with all-wheel drive, not the rear-wheel a type-a purist craves. Mind, the temperatures that week seesawed, melting heaps of dirty city snow by day and, by night, forming black ice traps everywhere. No kitties were hurt in the production of this article despite much aggressive play in S.

Once you’re out of the city, switch back to the regular D mode and tuck into cruise control. This seems a good place for a segue.

Let’s address the smoggy elephant in the room’s snuffling trunk. The d in the 2018 Jaguar XE is for diesel, still a dirty word in many Canadians’ thinking — maybe that’s why it’s not capitalized. But pointing at the minute particles in diesel fumes that can cause serious lung damage as a defence for gasoline pollution makes about as much sense as the bump stock debate. After all, diesel goes farther on the same amount of fuel, ultimately burning less.

Another reason Canadians haven’t embraced diesel with a fraction of Europeans’ wholeheartedness is the alleged flaccidity of diesel engines. Pound for pound they’re more efficient than gasoline engines but can’t go as fast. Plus, there’s that noise. Diesels sound like pebbles rolling around a bongo drum — or old men mindlessness clacking their dentures.

Not so much the XE 20d. First, the placement of the sound baffles artfully hides the noise. Only at ignition are you’re nakedly aware that it’s diesel. (You wonder how much cat soul it contains, so reluctant is it to come when you call.)

And power? True, this 4-cylinder diesel engine achieves just 180HP, but it’s turbocharged and lightweight, enabling you to leap from 0 to 100km in just 7.9 seconds. Yes, you can a buy faster-sooner engine but how much do you need it — and at what cost? I was regularly achieving 6.6 L/100km fuel efficiency without being careful. At the end of the week, the fuel gauge was down to one-third full. I had over 520km. The refuelling charge totalled just $48.

While we’re talking dollars and sense — not that Jaguar wants this to become what marketers call ‘a value story’ — this tester was the, umm, prestigious Prestige trim, a $52,822 opening gambit when you include freight, PDI and other pre-sales tax charges. With additional options tacked on, adding another $6,860, it totalled $58, 560.

You could take home the lesser trim without onions for under $49k before taxes. For the number and length of smiles it provided, I count that a good deal. Speaking of which, let’s not forget the secondary meaning of kitty.

By Steven Bochenek, 2-time winner of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada’s Auto Journalist of the Year Award, runner-up (#neverthebride)

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