Jaguar XF Review
Jaguar hit the nail on the head with the original XF – it was undoubtedly a Jag, but one that dumped the company’s dowdy image and looked, mercifully, nothing like the S-Type it replaced. No wonder it proved such a big hit with buyers that would usually choose a Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5 Series or Audi A6.
What's not so good
Jaguar XF: what would you like to read next?
Unsurprisingly, Jaguar hasn’t done a hatchet job on the looks of what is, believe it or not, an all-new model, but substantial changes are there even if you can’t see them. There’s an aluminium body that helps it weigh up to 190kg less than before, front suspension borrowed from the F-Type and the option to specify four-wheel drive.
Engines have also changed, so the XF gets Jaguar’s high-tech low-capacity 2.0-litre Ingenium diesels. Capable of returning up to 70mpg, they’re a must if Jaguar hopes to crack the all-important fleet market. Top-end models can be had with a powerful petrol V6, but the smart money goes on the 240hp diesel, which is almost as fast as the big petrol, but comes without running costs so high they could put your house at risk.
Not that really matters, because living in the XF would be no real hardship. Despite the new car being slightly smaller than the old model, interior space has increased significantly thanks to a longer wheelbase.
Meanwhile, the interior fixtures and fittings will make any abode – short of the Queen’s residence – seem a little low-rent. It might not be the rolling techfest that the Mercedes E-Class is or, for that matter, be quite as well built, but a new infotainment system promises crisp graphics and laser-fast calculation speeds, and you don’t need to be a member of Mensa to program it.
Equipment levels cover the basics expected of this class, so all models come with sat-nav, Bi-Xenon headlights, and a leather interior, while the car’s electric power steering (it used to be hydraulic) brings optional driver aids to the fore, including lane-keep assist and perpendicular auto parking.
If you want the best-driving big executive car then you don’t want a BMW 5 Series, you want this
With mid-sized executive saloons seemingly getting ever more complex, the Jaguar XF makes for a refreshing change. People who enjoy setting up their car to the nth degree will no doubt miss the adjustability offered by rivals, but those willing to put their trust in Jaguar will not be disappointed.
Straight out the box, the Jaguar XF is the best-driving car in its class and one of the best looking, while the new model’s added rear legroom means there’s now no practical reason not to choose it. The changes may not look like much in the metal but, in practice, they’re enough to catapult the XF to the top of the class.
Lots of headroom and knee room in the back of the XF, but small foot wells means carrying three people is a bit of a squeeze. Luckily, the size of the boot opening is pretty large
There’s enough space for your dog in the boot, although that might be a tad cruel…
While the new XF is 7mm shorter than the old model, its wheelbase – the space between the front and rear wheels – has increased by 51mm. That’s allowed Jaguar to deal with one of the old model’s biggest downfalls – its limited rear legroom. In fact, space for backseat passengers’ legs has increased by 15mm, kneeroom is up by 24mm and headroom swells by 27mm. Whisk two tall colleagues to an out-of-town meeting and you’re unlikely to hear any complaints from the back.
Things will be good for you and your front-seat passenger, too. There’s loads of space and the seats are supportive, without needlessly clamping your body in a way that becomes uncomfortable over long distances. It’s the perfect car if you spend thousands of miles on the motorway. If only the heater did a better job of warming your feet on cold autumnal mornings…
The practical theme continues when you look at cubby spaces – while not the largest in class, all the XF’s doorbins can swallow a two-litre bottle of water, you get four cupholders, the glovebox is pretty big and there are various other cubbies for smaller things such as your phone and wallet.
It’s a practical machine when it comes to carrying larger items, too. The boot has a decent opening – although one that’s smaller than a Volvo S90’s – and doesn’t suffer from too high a load lip. Jaguar has kitted the load bay out with a variety of features – you get two curry hooks, four tether points for your luggage and an electrically operated boot lid.
The boot’s 540-litre capacity matches the Mercedes E-Class and is more than you get in a BMW 5 Series. There’s room for two large suitcases, with a smaller one on top, and with the rear seats folded down, it is possible to fit a bike in with both its wheels on.
While some executive saloons require you to tick various boxes on the options list to get the best of them, the Jaguar XF is great to drive just as it comes.
The XF is available with a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol that's brilliant, but really the diesels are more sensible
While the old XF’s engine range was dominated by powerful V6 and V8 engines, in the new model you’ll have to cope with just four cylinders in all but the top-of-the-range cars. Not to worry, Jaguar invested £500 million into the development of its new family of 2.0-litre Ingenium engines, so you can expect them to be good.
Good, perhaps, but in the case of the diesels – not quiet. Both the 161 and 178hp models start from cold with a grumble and even when they reach operating temperature, the distant clatter leaves little doubt what’s powering the lump under the bonnet. At a cruise, the noise subsides, though, and at the UK national limit, both engines have plenty of urge for effortless overtaking.
Performance from a standstill is nothing spectacular, the basic engine gets from 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds, while the 178hp model does it in eight seconds dead. What is spectacular is the care with which both engines slurp fuel – the lower-powered model can return just over 70mpg and the 178hp version more than 65mpg. The top version of the 2.0-litre diesel comes with two turbos, 240hp and a rapid 0-62mph time of 6.6 seconds.
Their blend of superb economy and reasonable pace will make the 2.0-litre models hard to overlook for most buyers, but if you want more pace and don’t mind paying for it, the 296hp 3.0-litre diesel will readily assist. It has a massive 516Ib ft of pulling power available from just 2,000rpm, so effortless acceleration is available from almost any speed. Despite getting from 0-62mph in just 6.2 seconds, it can return fuel economy of 51.4mpg.
If you simply can’t stand the way four-cylinder diesel engines sound and the big 3.0-litre is a bit over budget then the petrol offerings will prove a more refined bet. Available in several power levels, from 200 to 300hp, the 2.0-litre petrol Ingenium is the newest in the engine range and promises great fuel consumption for the performance on offer – the 200hp one, badged 20t, returns claimed a claimed fuel economy of 41mpg and the 250hp version, badged 25t, matches that. The 300hp model is good for 40mpg and rockets the sizeable saloon from 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds.
And it’s fuel economy of 34mpg that will put most people off the supercharged 3.0-litre petrol. It delivers its power in an easy-to-handle surge, pushing the XF from 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds. However, in normal use the big diesel feels just as quick, mostly because the petrol delivers less torque (332Ib ft) higher in the rev range (4,200rpm).
That starts with a standard suspension setup that is extremely well judged. At low speeds, on bumpy country roads, it can feel a little busy – though not uncomfortably so – but as the pace rises so does the compliance of the springs at the car’s four corners – on the motorway the XF gets close to providing the creamy smooth ride of a rival equipped with air suspension.
Find yourself on a great road (minus passengers) and you’ll discover that the Jaguar doesn’t have the remote feeling that an air-sprung car can have. It seems connected to the road and bends can be consumed with a rewarding fluidity as the suspension soaks up bumps that would send shudders through the steering of more overtly sporty machines.
The steering itself is brilliant. Perfectly weighted and accurate, you can point the car into corners without having to make minor adjustments as you go.
The XF works best when paired with Jaguar’s eight-speed automatic gearbox, which is an option on all but the top-of-the-range S models. Its changes can be a little sudden when cold, but once warmed up it shifts through the gears with a smoothness that complements the rest of the car. Steering-wheel-mounted paddles are a £385 option that you’ll rarely have cause to use.
That’s because, let’s face it, most XFs will spend a lot of time on the motorway, where passengers will find there’s very little wind or road noise to contend with, and even the basic diesel engines are well hushed.
The sporty theme of the XF is apparent the minute you sit in the supportive driver’s seat.