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.
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.
The XF is available with a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol that's brilliant, but really the diesels are more sensible
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 a £1,750 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.