Jaguar XF review
The Jaguar XF is great to drive and now comes with improved tech and a cheaper price. There are some fiddly switches mind and don’t expect the petrol cars to be particularly economical
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Jaguar and premium saloons go together like curry and Friday night – there’s a long history of such a pairing in the UK, with, er, good and bad results. The XF first appeared in 2007, but today looks like this following a recent update.
And it’s a bit of a looker. Probably more so than its German competition. Its striking grille, air intakes, slim headlights and bonnet creases give it a sporty look, but it’s somehow a classier effort than from those across the water.
The XF’s insides never used to be much cop, but that update has changed things. Sure, there’s still the odd bit of cheaper plastic about the place, but it’s mostly very nice. An Audi A6 and 5 Series are a tad nicer still, but it’s now a very close-run thing.
Part of the visual drama is the XF’s new 11.4-inch curved touchscreen. It’s located nicely on the dash to help when driving and make it integrate seamlessly into the sleek design. BMW’s iDrive and Mercedes’ MBUX systems are both easier to use while driving, but as touchscreen’s go, Jag’s effort is sharp, responsive and very easy to navigate. Importantly, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard.
Cars higher up the range also come with slick digital driver’s dials and a rearview mirror you can flip from a standard glass reflection to a camera mounted on the tailgate. It looks cool, but also works well, so is more than just ammunition for the pub. It’s a shame the XF’s steering wheel buttons are a tad fiddly to use, though.
We know petrol is fashionable at the moment, but honestly, diesel is a better option for most people, and R-Dynamic SE trim has all you need and more.
All saloons this size seat four adults well, but you’ll have slightly more room for three adults across the rear seats in an Audi A6. The XF’s boot is pretty much the same size as its German alternatives’ too, but those cars do have slightly squarer access should you need to lift bulky items inside.
You can have your XF fitted with either a 2.0-litre turbo petrol with 250 or 300hp, or a 2.0 diesel with 204hp. You can also have rear or all-wheel drive depending on your choice, but an eight-speed automatic gearbox is standard across the range.
If you don’t cover many miles each year, or do most of your driving in town, then the smooth, quiet yet punchy petrols will do the job. Just don’t expect amazing fuel economy whichever road you drive them on.
The diesel with its mild-hybrid technology is a much better bet for the majority of buyers. It’s quiet for a four-cylinder diesel and feels decently quick thanks to its hybrid tech assisting at low revs, while those doing big motorway miles will like that it uses less fuel than the petrols. 40mpg is possible without much fuss, and more is achievable on the motorway.
Thankfully, if you enjoy driving, then the XF remains one of the best cars of its type to chuck down a country road. It steers with precision, it keeps its body tidy through bends and it’s comfortable over bumps in and out of town. Only some tyre noise from the larger alloy wheel options frustrates on the motorway.
Nevertheless, the Jaguar XF is as good as it’s ever been to drive and sit in, and now to own, too, because Jaguar has simplified the XF range and dropped prices across the range. To see just how much, and how much we can save you on top, head to out deals pages.
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 days of powerful V6 and V8 engines are gone, so you’ll have to cope with just four cylinders in all XFs.
There’s one diesel, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder motor that now has mild-hybrid assistance. It generates 204hp and does an official 57.2mpg.
However, it isn’t as quiet as it could be. It starts from cold with a grumble and even when it warms up, 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, it has plenty of urge for effortless overtaking.
Performance from a standstill is okay, getting from 0-60mph in 7.1 seconds.
If you simply can’t stand the way diesel engines sound then the petrol offerings will prove a more refined bet.
There are two, both of which are turbocharged 2.0-litre units. One develops 250hp and drives the rear wheels, while the other generates 300hp and drives all four wheels. Both are linked to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
The 250hp motor emits 181g/km of CO2 and covers the 0-60mph dash in 6.5 seconds, while the 300hp model does the 0-60mph sprint in 5.8 seconds and emits 194g/km.
However, fuel economy of 35.8mpg will put most people off the 250hp petrol.
That starts with a standard suspension set-up 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’s eight-speed automatic gearbox can suffer slightly sudden changes when cold, but once warmed up it shifts through the gears with a smoothness that complements the rest of the car.
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 engine is well hushed.