Jaguar has released an all-new version of its successful XF saloon. To see how it slots into this competitive marketplace, we’ve pitted it against one of the best cars in the sector – the Mercedes E-Class.
Buyers in this segment expect a lot from their cars – they need to be powerful to blast down motorways, they need to handle well for the occasional Sunday spin and they need to be refined and comfortable everywhere else. So which of these two performs best?
There’s no denying that both the XF and Mercedes have classy exteriors but, on the whole, it’s the Jaguar which comes out on top here. There are styling touches drawn from Jaguars of the ’60s and from the gorgeous-looking F-Type sports car in the form of the rear light clusters and daytime LED running lights. The Jaguar has a sleeker profile than the Mercedes, giving it a perceived bigger stance on the road which helps draw your eye to it even more.
The Mercedes looks the more conservative of the two and isn’t as overly distinctive on the road. It still has the usual daytime running lights and distinctive styling creases but it’s not as visually pleasing. The AMG model improves this but it still has an understated appearance. The Jaguar in R-Sport and S trim levels has a purposeful image that almost looks menacing.
Both interiors are phenomenal places in which to spend time but, like the styling, it’s the XF that creeps ahead in this regard. Like the old XF, the new version is as modern as the latest smartphones – it’s an elegant and minimalist design full of the latest gadgets. The centre console sweeps up to join the main dashboard while the centre console in the Mercedes joins the dashboard at an 90-degree angle.
Another difference between the two is that the Jaguar gets a generously sized touchscreen infotainment system to control the car’s functions, leaving the dashboard to look as elegant as possible by reducing the number of buttons required. The E-Class has an infotainment system too, but you need to press physical buttons to operate it. This means the E-Class needs more buttons making the dashboard feel more cluttered.
For everyday commuting, the Jaguar offers the best engine range – many buyers in this sector pick diesel engines and the ones in the E-Class are said to be noisy, while the units in the Jaguar are smooth and quiet. They’re also slightly more efficient with the XF’s cheapest engine achieving more than 70mpg. Only the hybrid E-Class can match that, while also being slightly quicker in acceleration terms, but is also noticeably more expensive.
If it’s a petrol engine you desire, the Mercedes offers the widest collection ranging from a 2.0-litre to a 5.4-litre twin-turbo V8. The Jaguar is currently only offered with one petrol engine but that said, it is the same 375hp V6 unit found in the iconic F-Type sports car.
Both models feature the same 540-litre boot. Both also provide lots of storage cubbies and plenty of room for passengers to get comfortable. They both suffer from having a large transmission tunnel which makes life a little awkward for any individual sat in the middle rear seat.
Rear headroom in the Jaguar is slightly compromised thanks to its sloping roofline so taller passengers should pick the Mercedes. Currently, only the E-Class is offered as a practical estate, and its 695-litre load bay is effectively unmatched in the segment.
Both cars are front-engined, rear-wheel drive – the ideal platform to deliver the most driving entertainment. Of the two, it’s the Jaguar that’s the more exciting proposition. The Mercedes is a car of two halves – the basic model is tuned for comfort making it ideal for cruising but less fun though corners. AMG models, however, are a lot firmer for better cornering but this does impede on passenger comfort.
The Mercedes’s standard seven-speed automatic gearbox, while good, isn’t as smooth or as quick to shift as the eight-speed unit in the Jaguar. Critics have said the Jaguar XF is on a par with the class-leading BMW 5 Series when it comes to driving fun and, in the executive saloon market, that’s the highest praise you can really give.
Of the two, the Jaguar is the more impressive car – it has a more pleasing interior, more attractive exterior, an impressive engine line-up and it’s great to drive. Despite this, it’s still a well-rounded family car that’s comfortable, refined and practical.
The Mercedes is also a great car – it’s extremely comfortable and as luxurious as you’d expect any premium German car to be. Plus there’s the fact it has the prestigious three-pointed star on its nose which can seal the deal for many.
If you value comfort and practicality, the Mercedes will probably suit you better. If you prefer your car to look handsome, drive brilliantly and offer something other than the usual German models, the Jaguar XF could be the one for you.
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