With the new-generation Jaguar XF still six months away, we thought it was a good time to take another look at the outgoing XF, just to see how it stacks up against its rivals.
Few would disagree that the Jaguar XF sedan has aged exceedingly well over its eight-year lifecycle. Up against popular rivals like the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the Jaguar still cuts a distinctive silhouette on the road today.
Penned by celebrated automotive designer Ian Callum (of Aston Martin DB7 and Vanquish fame), the XF was first unveiled in 2007 as a replacement for the retro-style Jaguar S-Type.
The XF’s design was actually inspired by the CX-F Concept, first shown at the North American International Auto Show earlier in the same year, which also formed the basis for the car’s mid-life update several years ago.
Like classic Jaguars of the past, the XF’s shape is a timeless design that encompasses both elegance and masculinity in the one form.
And despite nearing the end of its lifecycle, it’s still a car that can turn heads.
Alongside our Premium Luxury XF 2.2D tester’s good looks is a price tag that significantly undercuts the competition. Priced from $76,500 (plus on-roads), the Jaguar is nearly $6000 less than the equivalent BMW 5 Series (520d) and Mercedes-Benz E-Class (E220 CDI).
Equally, the Jaguar XF cabin has always been a highpoint of the model, made even more appealing with its facelift in 2012. It’s a combination of the unique in-cabin theatre, the automatically rising gear selector and the rotating air vents that make it work so well. The materials, too, have a premium look and feel to them.
The XF is certainly generously equipped, with a full suite of creature comforts, including acres of leather hide, Xenon headlamps, electric adjustment for the steering wheel and front bucket seats, interior mood lighting, seven-inch touch screen with satellite navigation, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, dual-zone climate control and stop/start to list just a small section part of this car’s standard inventory.
In typical luxury car fashion, there are loads of pricy options available on XF, like the 20-inch alloy wheels that replace the standard issue 17’s on our tester.
It’s definitely one extra worth considering because the bigger rims fill-out the wheel arches perfectly, adding to the car’s already svelte on-road presence.
But for all the flash and glamour, the XF misses out on much of the latest active safety kit found on the upcoming Jaguar XE, such as stereo camera technology that enables autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and auto high-beam assist.
Such a glaring omission is likely to be rectified with the forthcoming global launch of the next-generation XF in August, which shares its platform with the XE.
Cabin space, while plentiful up front, isn’t so generous for rear-seat passengers. The beautifully tapered roofline robs the outer bench occupants of some headroom, while rear legroom falls short of today’s executive class standard.
The 540-litre boot space actually betters some rivals, though the floor isn’t particularly deep. All the more reason why we’re a little bewildered to see the split fold rear seat bench is a $1000 option.
While the XF 2.2D might be the most economical variant in the line-up, it’s by no means the most refined. Not by a long shot.
This is a four-cylinder turbocharged diesel that sounds less like a Jaguar and more like a tradie’s ute, at least at idle. Even as the revs rise, things are only marginally better – you’re always aware of that horrid diesel clatter under the bonnet.
That’s not to say that it lacks the necessary grunt to get the XF up to speed. The last update saw a bump in output to 147kW at 3500rpm and 450Nm of torque from just 2000rpm. It’s enough to propel the car from 0-100km/h in 8.5 seconds and onto a top speed of 225km/h.
Unlike it’s V6 twin-turbo diesel sibling, the four-cylinder version only gets a single turbo, so there’s noticeable lag down low in the rev range before a sudden mid-range surge kicks in and you’re off and running.
It’s most problematic when you need to quickly pull out from an intersection, and there’s no immediate punch. Not even the Jaguar’s exceptional ZF eight-speed transmission is clever enough to disguise the less-than-linear throttle response.
It’s not exactly a premium experience and most likely one of the reasons that this engine didn’t make the cut in the next-generation XF line-up.
Instead, Jaguar’s first lightweight 2.0 Ingenium engine will power the new effort, offering less power and torque, but more performance and significantly more refinement – as evidenced by our early drive in Spain of the Jaguar XE.
That said, the XF still feels like a decidedly sporty sedan, with taught body control and responsive steering, and a penchant for curvy roads.
Even when pushed, the car feels properly planted, helped in part by the larger wheel and tyre set-up, which provides a wider footprint on the tarmac.
Admittedly, there’s a slight deterioration in ride quality: it feels busy over seemingly unblemished roads, but is comfortable over larger obstacles such as speed bumps and the like.
Ride quality lifts as the pace quickens, while the damping seems to iron out those unwelcome low-speed jitters.
Even Jaguar admits their 2.2-litre diesel powertrain is less than perfect and probably not the best fit for the luxury XF.
However, despite its age, the first-generation Jaguar XF is still an alluring proposition at a price point that begs a closer look.
You might want to jump in quick - dealers are now offering zero per cent finance across the entire XF range.