The smart, sleek Coventry cat you will want to bring home.
You can actually pinpoint when Jaguar regained its relevance in today’s world, and it was with the release of the first Jaguar XF. Such a radical departure it was from Coventry cats of old, that it was lauded by critics and consumers around the world. Unfortunately, due to the financial issues that had plagued the company during its time under Ford stewardship, the XF was fundamentally flawed: It had to replace the smaller X-Type as well as the bigger S-Type, a balancing act that saw its size shrink from its genealogical predecessor to try and appeal to the compact exec market.
Fast forward to today, and now there’s a XE compact saloon to win over customers on that end of the spectrum, liberating the XF to go after the highly-contested mid-size executive market. This is the segment that can make or break a luxury manufacturer, as their middling products tend to pave the opinion and shape the image of the brand. And after enjoying immense successes over recent years, Jaguar made sure that they had perfected their new XF before unleashing it on the market. But was all that effort worth it?
“If the previous XF was about dramatic insurrection into German territory, the new one is a more methodical expansion of its hard-won place in buyers’ minds.” - Autocar
Where the first XF sought to drive itself firmly into this century, the new XF its a refining of that offensive. The design somehow manages to be both aggressive and elegant, and has roughly the same effect as the image of the Rock in a suit. It’s powerful, but restrained. A cat pulling at its leash. Meow.
The front bears a face largely resemblant of the original XF, albeit one that’s been afforded some tech that wasn’t widely available a decade ago. There are full-LED headlights on offer here, with a reimagination of the Jaguar ‘J-Blade’ light signatures up front, and the grille is now more upright. The sides emphasise the length of the car, with a rear quarter light helping to visually extend the XF a little further. At the rear, there’s a clear influence of the F-Type sports car with the rear light signature. However, befitting a luxury saloon that’s much larger than the nimble roadster, there’s a ‘double dip’ in the taillight design. Purposeful, and athletic. A modern Jaguar.
Engine & Drivetrain
“Power is provided by a choice of four-cylinder turbo-petrol and turbo-diesel engines, both with capacities of 2.0 litres. Or a pair of V6 engines, one a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel the other a supercharged petrol, again displacing 3.0 litres.” - CarsGuide
Since Jaguar (and Land Rover) was bought over by the Tata Group in 2008, the new owners have provided every resource to the brand(s) to engineer as many critical components as possible, to make both brands more competitive in the marketplace. And while the first generation of cars that were produced under Tata stewardship were a huge leap forward, the bones of the cars themselves were largely similar to the Ford-based generation of cars before it. However, enough time has gone by, and now there are a raft of brand-unique engines that are powerful, economical, and green, befitting of a marque barrelling head-first into the 21st-century.
Two petrols and two diesels make up the Australian range, available as either 2.0-litre four-cylinders, or 3.0-litre V6s. The range kicks off with the 20d, a new Ingenium unit with plenty of torque and reasonable power, capable of a rated 4.3l/100km fuel consumption that’s aimed directly at rivals from Germany. Next up the range is the 25t, which uses a turbo-petrol of the same displacement which offers a little more responsiveness and a smidge more refinement at the cost of 7.5l/100km (rated).
Moving up to the 35t, you get a 3.0-litre supercharged V6, which claims to only drink 8.3l/100km while offering twice as much power than the base diesel. The XF S uses the same engine with a higher tune, to deliver better performance.
The real show-stopper here is the V6 diesel fitted to the XF S, which claims to consume just 5.5l/100km while offering silky-smooth progress and a mountain of torque. All engines cooperate brilliantly with the standard-fit eight-speed automatic gearbox.
“There’s no getting away from the fact that the Jaguar XF's interior feels a little low-rent compared with its best rivals.” - Whatcar
Not that long ago, you could get away with saying a Jag’s interior was reminiscent of a cigar lounge in a gentleman’s club, and it seemed that Coventry was okay with that. However, the original XF heralded in a new approach to interior design, and that push for innovation continues to be seen in the latest generation.
Things that got our attention in the outgoing car, like the rotary gear selector (which is now featured across the Jaguar-Land Rover range) and motorised rotating air-conditioning vents remain, while the rest of the interior gets reimagined to incorporate design flourishes that have been developed with Jaguars’ newer models. So there’s a ‘Riva-hoop’ that envelops the front half of the cabin, a multi-tiered dashboard design, and high sills contribute to a more sporty experience. Seats are supportive through the car, though the rear-centre seat should be limited to occasional use only.
The interior of the new XF may look flash, but pay attention to the employed materials and you may be disappointed. The mid-size Jag lacks the premium, plush robustness that you’d find in German rivals. Thankfully, practically is decent and space is generous, which goes a long way in this neck of the market.
Behind the Wheel
“We hammered this thing mercilessly on some challenging tight-cornered back roads and it proved hugely capable. From behind the wheel, it feels like a small car, rather than a large, luxury business express.” - CarAdvice
The XF’s real selling point is the way it drives. Where the BMW 5-Series has long been the segment benchmark for agility and dynamism, the XF far exceeds the capabilities of anything else in its segment. It has a chassis that perfectly blends comfort and agility, even before you dial in more oomph via the selectable drive modes. All engines perform wonderfully, and service Jaguar’s luxury image well, providing effortless shove where you need it.
Of particular note is the XF S diesel, with its turbo V6 oil-burner. If you weren’t informed, you wouldn’t know it wasn’t a petrol. So refined is this unit that the V6 petrol of the same displacement is very difficult to recommend. There’s so much torque on offer that you’d forgive its (relative) lack of power, and it consumes so little fuel as it hauls you along at warp speed that you wonder how it’s possible. To be honest, we’re not entirely sure either.
Safety & Technology
“Autonomous Emergency Braking is a key safety feature fitted to all XF models and will automatically apply the brakes to prevent, or at least mitigate, frontal collisions with other cars or pedestrians at speeds up to 80km/h.” - WhichCar
The aluminium-intensive architecture of the Jaguar XF not only makes it lighter, but also safer. The safety cell of the XF is noted to be one of the strongest in its segment, and is engineered to distribute impact forces over a broad area to reduce injury and cabin intrusion.
All XF’s enjoy things like six airbags, autonomous emergency braking, reversing camera, and lane departure warning. Option packs can be tacked on to add features like adaptive cruise control and an improved autonomous braking system.
ANCAP has awarded the Jaguar XF a five-star safety rating, its maximum score.
While the previous-generation XF was no slouch, the new generation XF is simply a marvel. The last car suffered from product design compromises to allow it to appeal to a broader market, and the new XF is clearly flourishing its freedom from those burdens. Incredible agility, great looks, and a stunning interior means that it’s certainly a strong contender in its class, and ought to leave its competitors worried. In recent years, no Jaguar has posed a real threat to the predominantly-German establishment, and the XF joins the rest of the Jaguar range in giving the competition a proper headache.
Our recommendation lies with two models, and it depends highly on how one would use their XF. For city folk who don’t do too many miles too regularly, we’d suggest the mid-range 25t that should service all but the most demanding owners. For long-distance, high-mileage motorway cruisers, we have to suggest going for the V6 diesel, for its creamy smoothness and excellent fuel economy. Regardless which XF eventually wins you over, we have no doubt you’ll be bawled over by the excellent handling, strong engines, and stunning looks.
TopGear - 90/100 - “Jaguar XF review: All-new XF gives BMW, Audi and Mercedes a proper fight.”
WhatCar - 80/100 - “The Jaguar XF is great to drive, with excellent handling and a comfortable ride. It isn't the quietest executive saloon, though.”
Autocar - 90/100 - “Here at Autocar, we believe this version of the XF has the edge over the competition, particularly when it comes down to the actual driving element, leaving the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class in its wake.”
AutoExpress - 100/100 - “The Jaguar XF is a stylish and efficient front-runner in the hard-fought executive saloon sector.”
MotorTrend - 70/100 - “All in all, the XF has grown up and expanded its breadth with a diesel. It continues to make itself useful in all climates with all-wheel drive and has elevated its stature with a more upscale choice of materials—all while retaining its bad boy reputation on the road.”
CarAdvice - 90/100 - “The image is right, the design is right and for those wanting something that isn’t another bloody German exec car, the XF does well. The inevitable comparison test will determine its overall standing, but Jaguar has reasons to be confident, if dynamism is your priority.”
CarsGuide - 80/100 - "Jaguar continues to struggle with the many buyers who seem blind to anything other than the ‘big three' upmarket German car makers. But, honestly, if you don't add one of these sporting British sedans to your list of test drives you are making a mistake.”
WhichCar - 90/100 - “The Jaguar XF is a handsome, roomy and luxurious big sedan that’s especially rewarding to drive. It feels responsive and beautifully balanced, and its petrol and diesel engines are fuel-efficient, engaging and powerful.”