Jaguar's XF Is Just The Start
Forget that entrenched thinking - the Jaguar XF is one of the world's finest luxury sedans and shows the British manufacturer is back to doing what it does best.
The XF heralded Jaguar's resurgence and there's more to come - the new, large XJ debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show and hits our shores in 2010…and there's a Jaguar sports car not far away.
What You Get
Send the tweed jackets and bowler hats to the dustbin, the new Jaguar XF is more than contemporary, it's futuristic and simply beautiful. The glorious proportions, dramatic style and flowing lines are a credit to Design Director Ian Callum and his team.
Inside, the XF excels with an interior that matches the beauty outside.
Car Showroom tested the diesel-powered XF with a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 driving through a six-speed automatic transmission. There's also three petrol engines - a 3.0-litre V6, a naturally-aspirated V8 and a supercharged V8.
Does the XF challenge BMW's 5-Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class? You bet it does - not only in specifications and dollars but also in performance and on-road dynamics.
Under The Hood
Many have said the V6 common rail twin-turbo diesel is the pick of the XF lineup and after our week testing the XF, we endorse that view - this is a brilliant engine.
Maximum power is 202kW at 4,000rpm and peak torque is a staggering 600Nm at 2,000rpm. Zero to 100km/h takes just 6.4 seconds - nearly two seconds fast than the V6 petrol XF - but it's the effortless and refined acceleration in this 1820kgs mid-sizer that is breathtaking.
It's economical too, delivering 6.8l/100kms on the combined cycle. The CO2 emissions are rated at 170g/km.
Featuring parallel sequential turbochargers, the 3.0-litre diesel replaced a 2.7-litre version that was part of the XF lineup at model launch.
Inside, the XF displays one of the most beautiful interiors in the business. But it's also a technological tour-de-force bristling with modern features.
For starters, there is no gear lever - the JaguarDrive Selector is a beautiful cast-alloy dial which rises electronically as you hit the flashing engine start button (accompanied by the opening of the air-conditioning vents with their subtle Jaguar logos). You then turn the dial to select the required gear.
The beautiful wood veneer trim combines with the thick leather seats to provide not only comfort but a true luxury colour palette. And of course that glorious aroma that lets you know this is a British luxury car.
Surrounded by all that leather, you just electronically adjust the drivers' seat and thick leather-wrapped steering wheel to provide a superb driving position. Instrumentation is a conventional two-dial layout and the monitor for the satellite navigation, reversing camera, audio and air-conditioning controls is centrally-mounted.
Rear seat legroom is comparable with others in the segment but we must say the comfort of the thickly-upholstered rear seat is probably the best we have encountered.
Audio is a CD/MP3 system with touch screen control and direct connection for iPods or you can option a Bowers & Wilkins 440W system with Dolby ProLogic sound from 14 speakers.
Exterior & Styling
From any angle, the XF looks absolutely stunning - and like no other Jaguar that has come before. Unquestionably elegant, it's modern, sporty and the on-road presence is superb.
The front is highlighted by the large chrome mesh grille and sharply curved large headlights. Deep sculptures on the bonnet draw the eye downwards to the low-mounted grille and prominent Jaguar badge.
We really like the sporty extractor vents on the front fenders which combine with the almost coupe style roofline and low-profile 18-inch wheels to give the XF a startling side profile.
And the rear is a work of art, highlighted by the large LED tail lights. It's almost confronting in its contemporary style - and again it's like nothing you've seen before from Jaguar. The boot has a low lip for easy loading and a 500 litre capacity.
On The Road
We'd heard a lot about the XF, read about all of the international awards it had won and looked at it closely at motor shows, so our expectation was high…the agile cat did not let us down when we hit the streets.
Refined and smooth, the 3.0-litre diesel is perfectly matched to the six-speed transmission so performance is at once brisk but also refined. Noise levels inside are impressively low.
Away from the city, the XF comes into its own. Ride and handling is in the supercar class - in fact the latest 2010 model year changes for the XF included the fitment of a boot cross brace for even better chassis stiffness.
Naturally there is an abundance of driver aid technology such as traction control and ABS anti-lock brakes but for us, it was the XF's chassis balance that stood out. Over our high-speed test loop the Jag turned in sharply, remained centered around corners with very little body roll and squatted nicely under acceleration - yet again like not other Jaguar we can recall and certainly a match for its German rivals.
The price you pay for the swooping good looks of the XF is tight rear seat headroom.
By any measure the XF is a stunning mid-size sedan that thoroughly deserves its worldwide acclaim.
Gloriously styled, a beautiful interior, exhilarating performance and refinement, Jaguar has certainly thrown down a challenge to the German segment rivals..
Naturally it's the E-Class 'Benz and 5-Series BMW.
The new E-Class is a beauty but it's difficult to justify the E350 CDI's price premium over the XF. BMW's 530d is similarly priced to the XF but doesn't match the Jag for power or torque.
Audi's A6 3.0TDI is also shy on engine performance, does have the Quattro all-wheel-drive system but not the opulence of the XF's interior.
Brilliant styling, interior, engine and on-road dynamics
Rear seat headroom