2017 Jaguar XE and the Art of Performance Tour

Yes, the gray-haired fellow in the sweater dispatching enemy spies through his deft work behind the wheel of the 2017 Jaguar XE is yours truly, Mike Hagerty, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TireKicker. So how did that happen?

Multimedia greeting for Jaguar's Art of Performance Tour
Jaguar's Art of Performance Tour multimedia greeting.
Well, let's start with where it happened...in San Francisco, the second stop for Jaguar's Art of Performance Tour. It's coming to seven cities this winter and spring and luckily for me, San Francisco is just down the street.  112 miles down the street, but down the street nonetheless.

Jaguars on display in Pier 35
Jaguars on display in Pier 35.
Taking over Pier 35 for the weekend before Super Bowl weekend, Jaguar put its newest vehicles on display, with a particular focus on two of them.

2017Jaguar XE and F-Pace
2017 Jaguar XE and F-Pace.
One is the marque's first SUV, the 2017 Jaguar F-Pace, a car that seems destined to do battle with one vehicle in particular, the brand-new Volvo XC90.  We've yet to drive either, but on up-close stationary examination, both are very impressive and desirable.

The other is the new small Jaguar sedan, the 2017 Jaguar XE. And it's the true star of the show.

Those with long memories may worry over the phrase "new small Jaguar sedan", as the last one, the unloved 2002-2009 X-Type, which was a Ford Mondeo with Jaguar styling cues, a project hatched entirely by Jaguar's then-owner, Ford, in Detroit. The Art of Performance tour takes three steps to erase that.

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Jaguar XE
2017 Jaguar XE.
The first is to give you, the driver, 15 minutes at the wheel on city streets with a trained high-performance driver in the passenger seat.  In San Francisco afternoon traffic, the exposure was just enough to come away with an impression of a solid, serious contender to the BMW 3-Series throne.

2017 Jaguar XE on slalom
2017 Jaguar XE.
The second is when you and the driver swap cars and swap seats and he takes you around a very tight handling course at very high speeds.  The XE devours the track in "snow" mode.  And then "snow" mode gets switched off and the car is even more capable and more impressive.  Especially when you consider that the XE's base price will be $34,900 for the 240-horsepower turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder XE 25t and $41,700 for the 340-horsepower supercharged 3-liter V6 XE 35t.

"The Audition" set
"The Audition" set.
The third step is just for fun, but impressive still.  And it takes place inside an XE that never moves. You, the guest, are directed through a series of reaction shots behind the wheel of that stationary XE which are then inserted into a pre-made short film of the XE eluding and eventually defeating enemy spies.

Sound like a kick?  It is.  And you can do it yourself.  Jaguar is accepting RSVPs for the tour online. Some VIPs either have or will get invitations in their e-mail.  By all means, go.  This is a new chapter of Jaguar's rich history, and 90 minutes is a worthwhile investment in understanding what path the brand is on.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to call Jaguar's press fleet folks.