JAGUAR HAS HIGH AMBITIONS FOR THE 2016 XF RANGE, AND A WELL FOUNDED CONFIDENCE IN THIS CAR. The first-generation XF reset everyone’s perception of the brand when it launched in 2007, and allowed Jaguar to begin shedding its old-man image and remould itself into a brand with more athletic ideals.
This all-new Jaguar XF promises to continue along that same trajectory. There’s a new aluminium platform underneath that carves weight off the XF’s frame, new engines up front and a world-class suspension at all four corners that delivers impeccable ride comfort and sporting ability.
The interior is better than ever too, with more space and mod-cons to go around. The old XF was good, but its replacement is better by several orders of magnitude.
Vehicle Style: Large premium sedan
Price: $82,800 (XF Prestige 20d) to $128,200 (XF S V6 petrol)
- 132kW/430Nm 2.0 turbo diesel I4 (20d)
- 177kW/340Nm 2.0 turbo petrol I4 (25t)
- 250kW/450Nm 3.0 supercharged petrol V6 (35t)
- 221kW/700Nm 3.0 turbo diesel V6 (XF S diesel)
- 280kW/450Nm 3.0 supercharged petrol V6 (XF S petrol)
Fuel Economy claimed: 4.3 l/100km (20d) to 8.3 l/100km (XF S petrol)
This is only the second generation of the XF, the model which revitalised the Jaguar brand after its break-up from former parent company Ford but which still carried plenty of Ford DNA in its chassis, powertrains and other components.
But this one is different. It is “Jaguar” to its core and ditches the previous model’s Ford underpinnings for Jag’s new Aluminium-Intensive Architecture (known internally as the iQ[Al] platform), and it’s all the better for it.
Everything else has been lifted too. Cabin space, infotainment, efficiency, refinement, dynamics - all vastly improved, and the XF now rivals - if not betters - its German competitors the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
- Standard equipment: Standard on all grades are leather upholstery, powered front seats, xenon headlamps, dual-zone climate control, auto-dimming mirrors, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors plus keyless entry and ignition.
- Infotainment: An eight-inch colour touchscreen display controls the standard sat-nav, AM/FM/USB/CD audio and Bluetooth phone/audio streaming.
- Cargo volume: 540 litres minimum. 40:20:40 split rear seatback.
There are some familiar XF themes in here, such as the airvents which rotate out when the car is started and the circular gear selector which rises up from the centre console to greet your palm. But, compared to the old XF, this is a more modern cabin.
The new XF still has the broad, flat-topped centre console and a big horizontal trim-panel stretching across the passenger’s half of the dashboard, but the cardigan has been slipped off and the design is now slicker than before.
The thick-rimmed steering wheel looks like it’s been pinched from an F-Type, the buttons on the centre stack have been tidied up and the shortcut buttons for the infotainment display are now positioned around the screen itself.
Unfortunately, it’s not the most elegant infotainment interface. BMW’s iDrive and Audi’s MMI systems have Jaguar pipped for ease-of-use, and Jaguar system feels quite dated.
Later in the year, an up-spec infotainment system, dubbed InControl Touch Pro, will become available, bringing with it a 10.2-inch touchscreen with a 12.3-inch TFT instrument panel.
Hopefully that will help address the in-car technology gap between Jaguar and the Germans.
Cabin quality is about average for the segment. There are lots of soft-touch plastics and padded, upholstered surfaces in this cabin, but the gloss black shifter-surround in R-Sport grades will likely attract fingerprints and scratches.
We also detected an irritating rattle in the B-pillar of one of our cars, while other quality complaints included slightly squeaky door trims and centre consoles.
But what the XF definitely gets right is cabin comfort. The driving position is low in the cabin with a sporty feet-forward posture, while a head-up display is now optional across the range and displays speed and navigation instructions with supreme clarity.
Meanwhile the biggest interior improvement is in rear seat accommodation.
Though the new XF is 7mm shorter than the old model, there is now 51mm more space between the front and rear axles which boosts cabin volume markedly.
Most of those gains are felt in the back seat. There you get 27mm more headroom and 24mm more legroom, and, unlike the model it replaces, the new XF is anything but cramped.
It’s supremely comfortable, and backseaters won’t feel shortchanged for comfort. The rear cushions are sculpted well and hold the torso in place, face-level air-vents keep those passengers cool and there’s loads of room for two adults.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 132kW/430Nm 2.0 turbo diesel I4 (20d), 177kW/340Nm 2.0 turbo petrol I4 (25t), 250kW/450Nm 3.0 supercharged petrol V6 (35t), 221kW/700Nm 3.0 turbo diesel V6 (XF S diesel), 280kW/450Nm 3.0 supercharged petrol V6 (XF S petrol)
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters, rear-wheel drive.
- Suspension: Double A-arm front, "Integral link" independent multi link rear.
- Brakes: Ventilated discs, front and rear. Performance braking package on XF S models
- Steering: Electrically assisted.
Jaguar bills the new XF as “the most dynamic premium business sedan” around, and we’d say there’s not an ounce of hyperbole in that statement. It handles like a dream.
The chassis beneath it is an upscaled version of the XE’s lightweight aluminium architecture, and that car is a joy to pilot as well. Athleticism clearly runs strong in the Jaguar family.
But what’s even more impressive is how Jaguar has engineered a suspension that’s so incredibly capable around a corner, yet so supremely supple when faced with a lumpy road.
The XF is proof positive that you can indeed have a car that not only handles well, but is comfortable at the same time.
We started our drive at the local launch in the top-line 280kW/450Nm supercharged petrol V6 XF S, which besides being powered by a wonderfully linear engine (the same as that used by the F-Type, but with 10Nm less torque) delivers a composed and comfortable ride even on its standard 20-inch alloys.
Step down into the R-Sport or Portfolio grades and the wheels shrink to 19-inch items but ride comfort remains roughly the same. How? S models get adaptive dampers as standard, while all other grades have regular passive dampers with R-Sport cars having a slightly firmer damper tune.
The passive dampers are good, but the adaptive dampers make the S feel like it’s riding on smaller wheels.
The 18-inch rollers on the entry-level Prestige spec (which is only available in turbo diesel 2.0 litre guise) deliver the cushiest ride, and if you value comfort above all else you should aim for that one.
That 2.0 litre diesel, by the way, is one of the best in the segment. With smoothness that shames its German alternatives, this diesel boasts exceptional refinement.
It’s not short on stonk either. With 132kW of power and a stout 430Nm of torque between 1750-2500rpm, that 2.0 litre 'oiler' offers superb driveability, and a kerb weight that’s 190kg under the previous-gen 2.2 litre diesel helps performance too.
Jaguar’s fuel economy claims of 4.3 l/100km for the 2.0 seems a little optimistic, but a more accurate test will come when we can put that car through a longer test cycle.
At the opposite end of the scale are the V6 diesel and petrol XF S models (there’s no XF R just yet), and performance from both is outstanding.
The 280kW/450Nm supercharged petrol V6 of the XF S rockets to 100km/h in just 5.3 seconds, which equals the Mercedes-Benz E400 for straight-line speed and beats the BMW 535i by 0.4 seconds.
Its diesel-powered side-kick makes 220kW and a whopping 700Nm, but doesn’t quite feel as grunty as the numbers suggest it should. That’s backed up by the official 0-100km/h figure of 6.2 seconds
On the upside, the XF S diesel’s claimed fuel consumption of 5.5 l/100km is well ahead of the petrol’s 8.3 l/100km claim.
In the middle is a detuned version of the 3.0 litre supercharged petrol V6 with 250kW and 450Nm, and a 2.0 litre turbo petrol with 177kW and 340Nm.
The former wasn’t available to drive at launch, but we can vouch for the latter as a fairly peppy unit that doesn’t struggle with the XF’s 1590kg kerb weight.
ANCAP rating: The 2016 Jaguar XF has yet to be tested by ANCAP
Safety features: Stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD, brake assist, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and six airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain) are standard from the Prestige grade and up.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Jaguar is gunning for the Germans with the new XF, and with the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class all at the tail-end of their lifespans, the 2016 XF is the freshest-faced in the segment.
Certainly, when it comes to dynamic appeal the XF has them all licked, but the Germans may step things up a notch when their new models debut over the next two years.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Build something on a strong foundation, and it will stand the test of time. That in mind, we’ve no doubt the XF’s excellent underpinnings will give it tremendous appeal for years to come.
It’s a terrific double-act. It will corner like a sports car yet coddles over sub-par tarmac. No question, with the new XF, Jaguar’s engineers have outdone the Germans in chassis dynamics.
This is a car with tremendous promise - and shows the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes more than a thing or two.