Car reviews - Jaguar - XF - 3.0D S Luxury
Excellent 3.0-litre diesel engine, sprightly in-line performance, does not sound like a diesel, cabin comfort, good value next to rivals, cool retractable airvents
Room for improvement
Super sensitive idle-stop, patchy Bluetooth audio streaming, last-generation touchscreen system
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18 Nov 2014
Price and equipment
In the XF line-up the 3.0 V6 Diesel S Luxury sits somewhere in the middle, with not quite as much kit as the flagship Portfolio but more than the Luxury with the 2.2-litre diesel powerplant.
The oil-burning S Luxury retails from $95,900, plus on-road costs, which is a good $26,000 more than the 2.2-litre equivalent, but again it gets extras such as heated electric folding mirrors, approach lights, Jaguar’s smart key system, 19-inch alloy wheels, a reversing camera, front parking sensors, 6x6-way electric front seats, premium interior mood lighting, auto dimming interior mirror and more premium wood and leather. A price that’s close to six figures can make some buyers nervous, but when compared with its closest rivals, the XF actually stacks up pretty well.
The BMW 535d features a 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder diesel and while it probably offers a touch more in the way of standard features, it is priced from $122,400. Similarly, Audi’s A6 3.0 TDI quattro doesn’t quite match up spec-wise and is priced from $108,400.
Mercedes’ E250 CDI on the other hand uses a smaller 2.2-litre diesel, but offers a strong standard features list for a comparable $99,400.
Others to consider in this field include Japanese offerings such as the well-specified Infiniti Q70 3.0d S Premium from $80,900 or something in the Lexus GS range, although if you are dead set on a diesel then look elsewhere as Toyota’s luxury arm is all about petrols and hybrids.
Our test car was a little more than the RRP, as it included options such as a boot spoiler ($420), 20-inch alloys ($2080), 60/40 split rear seats ($1000), piano black veneer ($1530) and metallic paint ($2650), breaking through that six-figure barrier for a final cost of $103,580, plus ORCs.
While the metallic white of our test car was appealing, we think the design of the XF is still so beautiful that the rear spoiler was an unnecessary addition.
Perhaps it works on the performance XFR or XFR-S variants, but on the more sedate model it detracted from the elegant, clean lines of the Jag.
So consider your options carefully, as you might not need them.
While the exterior styling of the XF is holding up brilliantly, the cabin is ageing a little less gracefully.
The basic design of the XF interior dates back to 2007 – the XF launched here in 2008 before a facelifted version arrived in late 2011 – and it is virtually unchanged, so it is hardly surprising that it is showing its character lines a little more than its rivals.
It is most evident when looking at the touchscreen, which is small by today’s standards and set back into the centre stack like an old tube TV.
In saying that, it’s certainly not a deal-breaker, because the high quality cabin materials and levels of comfort leave the occupant in no doubt that they are spending time in a premium European car.
The 4x4-way electric front seats are supportive enough without being cosy, and an excellent driving position is relatively easy to find. The three-spoke leather steering wheel is pleasant to touch and the leather on the seats feels top notch.
The retractable airvents that open and close upon switching the engine on or off are a very cute, almost sci-fi-esque touch and are quite the talking point when introducing people to the car.
There is ample head and legroom up front, although the BMW 5 Series offers slightly more room than the XF. The sloping roofline impacts entry and egress in the back, but once in there is plenty of room for pair of adults to feel comfortable.
The only real drawbacks were a slightly complicated Bluetooth phone and audio set-up and extremely patchy audio streaming that regularly dropped out.
Jaguar’s more recent examples of interior design – the F-Type sportscar and the forthcoming XE small sedan – show what the Tata-owned brand is capable of now, so we are looking forward to seeing what they do with the second-gen XF in the coming years.
Engine and transmission
Jaguar introduced a smaller, cheaper 2.2-litre diesel option when it launched the Series II XF in 2011, and while it brought the price of an oil-burning Jag down – it now starts at $69,990, plus on-road costs for the entry-level Premium – it can’t match the performance of the sweet 3.0-litre unit on offer here.
In fact, we reckon the lovely 202kW/600Nm V6 oiler is one of the biggest drawcards for this particular XF variant and it could be the sweet spot in the range.
So what makes it so darn good? Well to begin with, if you were to find yourself behind the wheel without any prior knowledge of the vehicle, we reckon it would be nigh on impossible to tell that it is a diesel.
Even on start-up, there is no tell-tale signs that a diesel lurks beneath, it is super quiet at idle and when accelerating, bar the smallest hint of lag, the XF pulls off the line sharply and with ease.
Loads of torque gets the XF off the line and the power on offer keeps the momentum going, offering rapid performance for a 1770kg luxury sedan. The smooth performance and well-insulated cabin put any concerns one may have about diesel engines to rest.
The eight-speed automatic – accessed by the pop up dial shifter in the console – is a perfect match for this engine, offering silky smooth changes and never having to search for the most appropriate gear. In manual mode, the paddle shifters offer quick shifts and an extra level of engagement, if that’s what you fancy.
We did, however, find the car’s idle-stop way too sensitive as it would engage at the lightest touch of the brake pedal, rather than with more pressure, the way other systems do. This was particularly frustrating in stop-start traffic.
If the system was faster to kick in it might be less of an issue, but there was a noticeable hesitation. Luckily you can opt out, which we did for the remainder of our time with the car.
On the fuel-saving front, the official combined figure for fuel consumption is 6.0 litres per 100 kilometres, and we recorded an average of 9.5L/100km over a week of some rather spirited driving and varied city/country/highway – but mostly city – driving.
If you were seriously concerned about fuel use, the 2.2-litre diesel might be the better choice, but you lose out on performance.
Ride and handling
The XF looks like a big car, because it is, but its size and weight are quickly forgotten. We were impressed with how well it tips into corners, with little body roll to speak of. It feels like a much lighter car than it is.
Steering is sharp, direct and well-weighted, with the XF going precisely in the direction you point it.
While it is a dynamically entertaining car to drive, Jaguar hasn’t forgotten that the XF is a mid-size executive express and it has ensured the best possible set-up for the springs and dampers so it maintains a comfortable ride.
You might be able to take off quickly at the lights, but you can also rest assured you will glide over corrugations without fuss.
One quibble with said take off is the tyre screeching we experienced every time we accelerated with intent. We are not sure if it was over-zealous acceleration or something relating to the tyres and wheels (the test car was fitted with 20-inch alloys, 19s are standard) but the XF occasionally made something of a scene when pushing off from a standing start.
Safety and servicing
The XF is still a four-star ANCAP-rated car, which will no doubt disappoint some buyers. It does feature safety gear including ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution, emergency brake assist, cornering brake control, the Trac DSC (dynamic stability control) system with three setting levels, traction control and six airbags.
Jaguar offers the XF with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty and three years roadside assist, but the three-year/100,000 free scheduled servicing that applies to the F-Type, XJ and XK does not apply to the XF.
While age may have taken some of the lustre away from the XF, it is still a seriously impressive motorcar.
If you are in the market for a luxury mid-sizer and you don’t need all of the latest technological bells and whistles, then pop the XF on your shopping list.
But if you must have the most up-to-date connectivity system and more techie features than you know what to do with, there might be more appropriate options out there.
Those who value performance, comfort and style over the latest electronic gadgets, and choose accordingly, will be rewarded with sprightly performance from that superb 3.0-litre diesel, an engaging drive and compliant ride all in a what is still a striking package.
BMW 535d from $122,400, plus on-road costs
The BMW offers a more powerful engine, but the fuel economy (5.6L/100km) betters the Jag. It’s always been an impressive car and the 5 Series offers a lot of standard goodies, but it is a good deal more than the XF, so it could come down to which badge you prefer.
Audi A6 from $108,400, plus on-road costs
Audi’s executive express is about to be replaced by a heavily revised mid-life facelift but the outgoing model is still one of the top picks in the segment.
The Jag offers a touch more in the way of spec and it is cheaper than the 5 Series. Audi diesels are also pretty smooth and the cabin is segment leading.
Mercedes-Benz E250 CDI from $99,400, plus on-road costs
The E-Class came in for a significant overhaul last year making an already solid offering infinitely better. This is a much smaller 150kW/500Nm 2.1-litre diesel but it still does the job and the pricing is more inline with the Jag.
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