Class-leading dynamics, no compromise engine options, silky ride quality, snappy transmission
Room for improvement
Muted S exhaust note, In Control Touch Pro not available from launch
Click to see larger images
By DANIEL GARDNER
JAGUAR is hitting what it calls the “business sedan” market hard with a broad
range of XF options priced right on the nose of its key rivals from Germany.
Priced from $82,800 before on-road costs, the entry-level XF 20d is all over
BMW 520d and the Mercedes-Benz E220 CDI but adds to the bargain with a
2.0-litre diesel engine that trumps both for economy.
But the Jag proves that frugality does not have to come at the cost of
performance and the company’s new Ingenium four-cylinder is a serious bit of
kit, thanks to unusual features such as variable camshaft timing and careful
engineering that has kept weight to a minimum.
With 132kW and 430Nm, the most affordable XF packs a decent punch with strong
acceleration off the mark (zero to 100km/h in 8.1 seconds, says Jaguar) but
with a gentle foot, the big Jag can travel 100km and only use 4.3 litres of
fuel in the process.
The four-cylinder sounds very unlike a diesel with just a murmur at idle and
low speeds but settles to an imperceptible note when cruising. We managed a
figure close to the manufacturers claimed fuel economy, which is commendable in
Out test car was dressed up in the most affordable Prestige cut and colour,
which brings a few chrome touches to the exterior and a two-tone grey leather
interior. The light interior is bright and spacious and screwed together with
finesse. We liked the top-quality materials and build quality throughout, which
extends to the whole range regardless of specification.
Spending a little more and hopping in to a four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrol 25t
will set you back $89,800 when wearing R-Sport gear. For that cash you get
177kW/340Nm from the Ford-designed engine in lieu of the company’s first
Ingenium petrol engine.
Despite its age, the 25t engine that harks back to Jaguar’s previous Ford
ownership offers a good combination of refinement, performance and versatile
performance across its rev range. A pleasant note accompanies a full-chat
wring-out to the red line with tractive grunt at all engine speeds.
As the name suggest, the R-Sport package brings the sportiest range of kit with
black and red leather interior in our test car and the muscular bodykit with
its large airvents and subtle splitters.
Portfolio and Prestige trims add perhaps an edge of elegance, but for our
money, the R-Sport kit makes the best use of the XF’s sharp and dynamic
styling, especially when wearing white paint to show off the contrasting vents
Higher-specification cars have the option of Jaguar’s InControl Touch Pro
information system which swaps out the more conventional analogue instruments
for a full digital cluster, much like Audi’s Virtual Cockpit.
The system also upgrades the 8.0-inch touchscreen to a 10.2-inch version, but
the system has only just gone into production and the Pro version will not be
arriving in Australia for a few months yet. The standard set up is intuitive
and well presented but we think waiting for the Pro will be worth it.
We didn’t get a chance to test the middle-of-the-range 35t and the entry point
to six-cylinder variants, but instead jumped straight to the flagship 3.0-litre
S that is available in both turbocharged diesel and supercharged petrol.
The spark-ignition XF S 30sc borrows Jaguar’s tried and tested V6 that also
features under the bonnet of the F-Type S. With 280kW and a mighty 450Nm of
torque, acceleration is strong from both a standstill and in-gear.
We feel the Jaguar engineers could have made a little more of the silky six-pot
bark that sounds muted from inside the cabin, but has a likeable report from
outside the car.
But easily our favourite powerplant has to be the XF S 30d which has the same
displacement as its petrol stablemate but thanks to its diesel diet puts out a
respectable 220kW and 700Nm.
There is something about the delivery of 700Nm of torque that suits the XF so
perfectly. It is subtle and inconspicuous but a sledgehammer blow of
performance and acceleration.
Like the four-cylinder, the six-pot diesel makes very few diesely sounds other
than a satisfying hum, but its performance is anything other than subtle.
We loved flicking into manual mode and preventing the big diesel from
down-shifting when climbing hills. Its mammoth grunt is best appreciated in the
mid range rather than allowing it to rev out of the sweet spot.
In all cases the eight-speed automatic transmission, as fitted to all variants
as standard, is an exemplary piece of engineering, offering excellent intuitive
gear selections when left to its own devices, or snappy fast shifting when
given instructions through the steering wheel paddles.
Take your pick with the choice of engines because you really can’t go wrong,
but just as accomplished as the drivetrains is the XF’s chassis.
Unfortunately we didn't encounter nearly enough twisty blacktop to fully test
the XF’s outstanding road manners, with a majority of our time spent enjoying
the Jag’s ability to eat up many kilometres with complete ease and comfort.
Ride comfort is excellent with significant imperfections ironed out of the road
with very little passenger discomfort and a whisper-quiet cabin irrespective of
the engine choice. Lower speeds seemed to allow more vibrations through from
Both of our tested S variants had the optional adaptive damper suspension
fitted, which is an impressive system especially when combined with optional
20-inch wheels. The adaptive system allows virtually negligible body roll but
with commendable comfort levels too, despite the larger rims.
Customers opting for the standard passive dampeners will not be disappointed
though, with only a little more body roll and a small difference in cabin
comfort that is probably only noticeable when doing a direct comparison.
When we did find the rare winding section the Jaguar responded with
class-leading levels of grip, poise and especially good steering feel and
With the advent of electric power assisted steering, many systems have proven a
little numb but the Jaguar XF proves that exceptional levels of sensation are
possible while maintaining the efficiency benefits of EPAS.
The XF chassis shares the same XE Integral Link suspension at the rear (Jaguar’
s interpretation of multi link layout) and double-wishbone front end used by
both the XE and F-Type and the result is superb.
While the XE goes out to be the sportiest of the two Jaguar sedans, our pick is
the larger XF. Yes it carries a premium over the smaller sedan but it offers a
blend of the same excellent driving experience in a larger, more practical body
with a familiar look.
In a segment where comfort and driving enjoyment are regarded as equally
important, the Jaguar XF is well positioned. It offers a superb blend of
luxury, comfort and features, with a taught sports chassis, and steering feel
that cannot be beaten.
Add to that a different aesthetic quality and British-branded unique selling
proposition and the new XF has the potential to upset the competition’s largely