Road test: Jaguar XF

Posted on February 19th, 2016 by James Luckhurst

Classy cabin, great handling and a patriotic choice.

Road test: Jaguar XF

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What is it?

The XF is Jaguar’s newest model, the second generation of its handsome mid-range saloon. Arriving in the year of the company’s 80th anniversary of car-making, this is a big-cat-badged, aluminium-bodied executive pleaser.

How safe is it?

It bristles with safety kit. While the previous model was awarded four stars in Euro NCAP testing, the new XF has earned the maximum five-star rating.

Who should buy one?
Canny company drivers, and well-heeled private motorists with a patriotic streak. The XF makes an interesting alternative to rival offerings from the prestige German marques.

Road test by Sue Baker published 20 February 2016

 

 

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Road test: Jaguar XF

The XF is really good to drive, a blend of motorway limousine and back-road sprinter. The new 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel engine, likely to be a popular choice, is a marked improvement on the old 2.2 litre diesel in the previous model. It has strong, linear performance that gives it a lively, capable feel but is also quieter and more refined, with improved efficiency and lower CO2.

It’s impressive that the XF manages to combine brisk acceleration and powerful pull through the ratios of the eight-speed auto gearbox. This can also be operated via steering column paddles when you feel in the mood. There is pretty reasonable economy in this mid-range diesel model. Its official fuel figure is in the mid-60s per gallon, meaning that 50-something mpg is realistically attainable in what feels a long-legged, well powered car. Emissions are quite reasonable too, with a CO2 output of 114g/km.

There is a sporty edge to the handling that is appealing if you are a keen driver on a tight schedule, but it is also quiet and comfortable on a long-haul cruise. The XF has a sophisticated suspension system, with double wishbones and integral link rear structure, which does a good job of cushioning the car over most surfaces. Not quite all: you become aware of a fidgety feel under the tyres when the going is a bit coarse, but mostly the car deals well with differing surfaces.

The XF has always been a car with good steering feel, thanks to the hydraulic power steering that was a well-liked feature in the original model. That has been updated to electronic power assistance, similar to many other recent cars, and it is particularly good of its type. Steering feel is pert and gives good feedback, with a crisp turn-in on the bends.

The top-performing XF has a 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine with supercar acceleration, and it makes a glorious throaty noise, but it comes with a price to match at a whisker under £50,000.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Road test: Jaguar XF

Although this latest XF has a shorter and lower body than its predecessor, it also has a slightly longer wheelbase, and as a result is roomier inside. That is especially so in the back seats. It has ample space for five big, burly adults to travel comfortably without complaints about squeezed shoulders or crushed knees. It’s good for minor interior stowage spaces too, and there are charging points for 12-volt and USB connections inside the centre armrest.

Jaguar has made great progress with the packaging of its cars in recent times, so the old complaint about Jags being short on luggage space no longer applies. It now has one of the largest boots in its class, at 540 litres, and the boot opening is wider than the previous car for ease of loading. The boot itself is long and wide, and also quite deep, so there is a raised lip to lift things over. An electrically operated bootlid is a handy option.

SAFETY
Road test: Jaguar XF

The XF has scored five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests. Safety features include an automatically triggered pop-up bonnet to cushion a pedestrian unfortunate enough to be collision with the front of the car. A significant crash-avoidance – or at least minimising –feature is automatic emergency braking, which applies the brakes if a vehicle ahead looms too close. Also worth having is all-surface progress control to help with safe pulling away on low-friction icy and snowy surfaces.

EQUIPMENT
Road test: Jaguar XF

The cabin has a theatrical touch, with a pop-up transmission controller and side air vents that swivel shut when you park. The instrument panel has a pin-sharp virtual display. There is a ten-inch touchscreen with a novel split-view that lets the driver see the satnav while the front passenger can view a TV programme. An intelligent speed limiter system can detect and keep within speed limits. A head-up display and self-parking are options.

COSTS

Road test: Jaguar XF

Prices for the XF start from £32,300. That’s slightly dearer than a BMW 5 Series, but the XF stacks up well on running costs, and has good predicted resale values, so the overall cost of ownership is reckoned to be comparable if not slightly better than the German competition. The Jaguar’s aluminium body keeps weight down, which is good for fuel economy and CO2. The 2.0-litre diesel XFs best keep costs in check.

WE SAY

Classy cabin, great handling and a patriotic choice.

AT A GLANCE:
Price: £36,850
Performance: 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds
Economy: 65.7mpg combined
Insurance: Group 28
Tax: Band C (£0 first year)

Figures for the XF 2.0d 180 R-Sport auto