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Phase three in Jaguar’s impressive renaissance is here. The all-new 2016 Jaguar XF large sedan gives the company its most legitimate rival to the BMW 5 Series yet.
The XF follows in the wheel tracks of the F-Type performance leader and XE compact executive sedan, and precedes the vital new F-Pace crossover SUV. This quartet, plus the updated XJ limo, are making this British icon one seriously viable German alternative.
When we say all-new, we mean it. The 2007 XF predecessor might have been a massive step for Jaguar in its own right, but this new one raises the bar. The addition of the new, smaller XE model line means this new-generation XF need no longer straddle segments.
In price and positioning, the new Jaguar XF is every bit the Audi A6, 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class rival. Like its XE smaller brother, the XF is pitched as the sportiest car in its segment, but one that offers comfort and left-of-centre premium appeal.
With the locally available Germans all getting on in years — a new version of the Mercedes-Benz arrives later this year — Jaguar can smell blood. Is the XF good enough to strike a killer blow?
The family resemblance is obvious. Jaguar has done well in balancing crisp and sporting lines, with good proportions, while maintaining an air of understatement.
This is one really nice looking car, especially fitted with black alloy wheels. The side profile gives way to an aggressive feline nose with penetrating headlights, a sculpted bonnet and a trademark grille.
The rear design is also more resolved that the XE, with a less anonymous boot design and far more resolved rear bumper. Like the XE, though, the tail-pipes are characterless.
On the road
First, what’s changed over the old XF? What hasn’t…
The aluminium-intensive architecture is familiar but enhanced, with a 190kg weight loss and 28 per cent more torsional stiffness the result.
New technologies include All-Surface Progress Control for enhanced traction on low-friction surfaces, along with autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, intelligent speed limiter and semi-automated parking.
Familiar from the XE is the near 50:50 weight distribution, and like all Jaguars the XF is rear-wheel drive. The sporty, F-Type-inspired double-wishbone front suspension and the complex integral link rear (rather than multi-link) are calibrated for dynamism, as is the torque vectoring by braking. The electric power steering system is retuned.
We drove the full array of XF variants (more below) and, as with the XE, the dynamic package is highly impressive. The EPAS steering is offers fantastic weighting and sharpness on-centre, while the body control is first rate.
For a big sedan, the XF turns in ferociously, and stays flat and predictable mid corner. Naturally, the larger distance between the wheels mean it may not be quite as nimble as the XE on a track, but on a public road, it’s hugely impressive.
The ride, on passive or active dampers depending on spec, is generally well-calibrated, too. The XF feels unflappable but never overly firm either, with hints of brittleness evident only over sharper corrugations when taken at a clip.
Put simply, the XF juggles the Jekyll/Hyde act well, being firm-ish but comfortable in the daily grind and capable of matching it with the sharpest sports sedans if you feel like a weekend burn up your favourite mountain pass. This is what Jaguar does…
Under the bonnet
Four engines are available, depending on specification. Kicking off the range is Jaguar Land Rover’s new Ingenium diesel, which premiered on the XE. It’s a 2.0-litre unit with 132kW at 4000rpm and 430Nm from 1750rpm, that uses a claimed 4.3 litres of fuel per 100km.
Next is the 25t, a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol sourced from Ford and also used in the XE. It makes 177kW at 5500rpm and 340Nm from 1750rpm. The claimed 0-100km/h is a very respectable 7.0 seconds. Above this is a 250kW/450Nm 3.0-litre supercharged V6 that cuts the sprint time to 5.4s.
The headlining S models (there are no R variants yet) feature either a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 with 220kW at 4000rpm and 700Nm at the same engine speed, or an uprated version of the supercharged V6 petrol with 280kW/450Nm and a 5.3s sprint time.
JLR fans will recognise all these engines, as well as the eight-speed ZF automatic transmission matched to each as standard. Once again, this gearbox sports paddle shifters and is also operated by a nifty rising dial rather than a conventional stick.
In many ways the Ingenium is actually the pick. It’s extremely refined, and while not as outrageously punchy as the diesel six, offers ample torque and pickup. It’s a better bet for ours than the 2.0-litre petrol if you’re after a comfortable and frugal daily driver.
The 2.0-litre turbo-four petrol offers plenty of power, and demonstrates a willingness to rev. It does, however, lack the rifle-bolt responsiveness and crispness of the BMW TwinPower equivalent, and the droning exhaust note is a little anodyne.
The supercharged petrol V6 is a fine engine, but it’s a little let down by a lack of ‘theatre’ inside the cabin. The note is a little uninspiring, and lacks any mongrel or performance edge unlike the F-Type, even in S guise. This is a shame, though the inevitable XF R will correct this.
At the top end of the range, it’s once again the diesel that impressed. With 700Nm of torque, the 3.0-litre six-pot oiler offers you a tidal wave of torque that makes the drive effortless. It’s also superbly refined for what it is. This is the engine we’d buy if money wasn’t an object.
Price and spec
Of course, money is never not an object, is it?
The new XF range will be available in four trim levels: the comfort-oriented XF Prestige and XF Portfolio variants, and the sportier XF R-Sport and XF S — all familiar names to JLR aficionados.
Pricing is broadly in line with the 5 Series nemesis, but higher at entry at least than the old XF segment straddler. The Prestige Ingenium diesel kicks off at $82,800 plus on-road costs (the old 2.2D was a bargain $69,900). This spec has no other engine options.
The Ingenium engine can also be had in the sporty R-Sport for $88,800. The R-Sport climbs to $89,800 for the 25t, up to $104,800 for the supercharged V6 in 250kW guise.
The equivalent Portfolio petrols (no diesel option) are $8000 extra on 24t and 250kW supercharged V6 guises. The XF S range-toppers are $120,700 in V6 diesel guise and $128,200 for 280kW XF S petrol.
Standard equipment includes torque vectoring by braking, keyless-go, four driving modes (drivetrain-focused), cruise control, genuine leather seats with memory, cabin mood lighting, DRLs, power folding mirrors, InControl navigation on an eight-inch touchscreen. A reverse-view camera, lane departure warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking and parallel/perpendicular parking assist.
The Portfolio adds luxury bits such as an electric boot, LED headlights, 19-inch wheels, Windsor leather, illuminated metal treadplates, a surround-view camera, a head-up display (HUD) and DAB+ over the Prestige.
The sports-focused R-Sport adds, over the Prestige, different extras to the Portfolio, including sports suspension, a body kit, different-style 19s and leather/mesh sports seats.
The range-topping S variants in petrol and diesel guises add, over the Prestige, 19s, an S body kit, LED headlights, metallic sports paddles, different sports seats, adaptive dampers ($2400 on other variants), a HUD and DAB+.
There are some options that should probably either be standard, or are at least pretty expensive. Examples include (on all variants) $2400 for radar-guided cruise control, $3200 for a sunroof, $800 for heated seats, $1800 for four-zone climate control and $1420 to get a blind-spot monitor.
Most disappointingly, Jaguar’s fantastic-looking new InControl Touch Pro infotainment system, which replaces the current unit with a glorious 10.2-inch touchscreen, and swaps out the driver’s instruments for an Audi-like 12.3-inch TFT digital display, adds $2500 (and won’t arrive until April). Adding the bigger 825W sound system is a further $2500.
Inside the cabin
Anyone familiar with the Jaguar XE’s cabin is going to immediately recognise the XF. The brand signature steering wheel carries over, as does the wrap-around upper dash design. In a familiar fashion, the driving position is almost coupe-like, reflecting the sporting intent.
The driver’s cocoon suits the attitude of the car, while the leather seats — “real” leather as Jaguar is at pains to point out — are well-bolstered. Cabin storage isn’t scrimped on either, with plenty of pockets and cubbies for your stuff, though the door pockets are small-ish.
The interior is far from a carbon copy of the XE, but the family resemblance is there, and this isn’t always a good thing. The central touchscreen with Jaguar’s InControl system is simple to operate, but looks a little lo-fi next to rivals such as the incoming new E-Class.
As we mentioned, that 10.2-inch Pro system with the glorious 12.3-inch digital TFT screen ahead of the driver really should be made standard at least on the upper-spec cars once shipments arrive in April. These features will revolutionise the cabin, and Jaguar as a contender brand needs unique selling points like this.
Like the XE, there were a few trim squeaks in our test cars, notably where the one-piece plastic panels along the transmission tunnel rise to flank the phone holder below the fascia, while the buttons on the glossy black air conditioning interface feel too cheap. One of our test car’s consoles also creaked like an old wooden trapdoor.
In brand signature style, there are small Jaguar logos scattered around, and even a ‘Built in Britain’ badge stamped into the glovebox. The theatre on startup over the old XF is diminished, because only the outboard vents swing open when you press the button. Still cool, though.
One area when the XF has it all over the XE, as it should, is rear seat space. The modular architecture beneath is familiar from the XE, but stretched. At 4954mm, the XF is 50mm longer than a 5 Series, but actually a touch shorter than the old XF. However, its 51mm longer wheelbase gives you more rear seat space.
If you ever actually carry people in your car, the step up from the XE to XF is absolutely essential. The boot, meanwhile, is well over 500 litres and ample for some clubs. The lairy red-painted space saver spare wheel under the floor can handle speeds of 80km/h.
Cost of ownership
Perhaps the most alluring feature of the XF is its ownership credentials. Jaguar Australia has great service plans that you can arrange upfront. Five-years of servicing on the Ingenium is capped at $1100, $1350 on the 25t, $1500 on the V6 supercharged petrol and $1600 on the V6 diesel. If you buy before June, you get five-year of free servicing. Nice.
The intervals are also attractive: 12-months and 16,000km on the 25t, 12-months/26,000km on the V6 petrol and diesel engines and a staggering 24-months/34,000km on the Ingenium. No wonder servicing is that cheap.
JLR Australia also offers various guaranteed future value programs with agreed-upon kilometre limits, so your resale should be fine.
The Jaguar XF is a different beast to its predecessor. With the XE here it doesn't need to straddle segments any more, and so this one is roomier and more expensive than before. It's now in genuine 5 Series territory, and in many way feels the part.
Like its XE little brother the dynamism it exhibits on a twisting road is unquestionable, yet it's also suitably comfortable and refined. The diesel engines are definitely the pick at this stage, with the circa-$80K Ingenium entry Prestige being more than capable.
The Jag's road presence is also good, its design being understated but handsome, while the cabin feels suitably sporty and much more spacious in the rear than the below-par XE. Yet the cabin ambience still isn't class-leading, and the imminent new E-Class kills it here, though Jaguar really is more of a BMW rival.
On the value front, the price is fine, though there are some features that could be added. This value equation is rectified by the solid ownership credentials, however.
All this is also exclusive of the fact that Jaguars are just cool. The image is right, the design is right and for those wanting something that isn't another bloody German exec car, the XF does well. The inevitable comparison test will determine its overall standing, but Jaguar has reasons to be confident, if dynamism is your priority.