ORIGINAL: 2018 Jaguar XE S: RWD vs. AWD Autocross Comparison
Two otherwise identical 2018 XE S sedans, time to place your bets.
We have talked about the revised-for-2018 Jaguar XE S before. It’s a fabulous looking sports sedan that drives as good as it looks. Proof of its driving dynamics are in the video above. As part of Jaguar’s Art of Performance tour, an autocross course was present for vehicle testing. On hand were two F-TYPE R coupes, and two XE S sedans. While the F-TYPEs were identical beyond the color, one XE S was rear-wheel drive, and the other was all-wheel drive. So, on an identical course, with two identical cars, and the same driver, which is faster RWD or AWD?
How did the cars do on the autocross course?
On track, both XE sedans had good composure and agility. The last stock sports sedan I drove on track came from Germany, and it was not nearly as agile. I attribute this to the fact that the XE utilizes a double-wishbone front suspension. While more expensive than a conventional strut and lower control arm setup, the driving dynamics are worth it. The front tires had good “bite,” meaning that the car was effective at turning into corners and following through. With some other sports sedans there is a waiting period between the driver’s steering inputs and the rest of the car actually getting through the corner. That waiting period is automotive purgatory.
The rear end works just as well as the front, with minimal wheel spin exiting a corner under full power. In lieu of a conventional limited-slip differential, the XE S utilizes “torque vectoring” to control the rear wheels, minimizing wheel spin. This brake-based technology has been largely adopted, and touted, across the industry as a performance feature. It seems to work well in the XE S, even under hard driving. Aside from small, intentionally driver-induced powerslides the XE does a great job of putting the power down and keeping things under control.
That said, if more power were in the picture, it would desperately need a mechanical limited-slip differential. Fortunately, the savage XE SV Project 8 sees the addition of both more power and an upgraded differential for the motorsport enthusiasts in the crowd.
Which is faster, and which should you pick?
Here’s the thing: after driving both cars, I was certain the rear-wheel drive XE was faster. However, video doesn’t lie, in both runs, the all-wheel drive XE trounced the rear-drive car through the autocross. What’s the deal? Well, feel is subjective and lap times are objective.
The rear-wheel drive XE S felt faster to me. Attribute this to the small amount of on-track tail wagging. Even the smallest bit of sideways action is exciting, making the drive feel more on-edge. However, time spent sideways is time spent not putting the power down, rocketing towards the next corner.
The all-wheel drive XE is faster, because it spent next to no time goofing off on track. Indeed, it powers the power down, drama-free. This point-and-shoot driving experience is ideal for the tight corners of an autocross course.
Both cars are fun to drive, the distinction is a matter of preference: Do you want to get from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible, or do you want to have a bit more fun on the way? There is no wrong answer, because both of these sports sedans are excellently capable machines. If you haven’t already, schedule a test drive at your local dealer. Treat yourself to the supercharged S model, too, it’s worth it.