For 2016 this new Jaguar XF has received a bodywork upgrade, not just in terms of its desirable lines but in its construction too, as it now benefits from weight saving aluminium. This shaves a claimed 190 kg off the weight of the XF when compared to its predecessor. When you combine this with efficient new diesel engines it is now one of the most efficient executive cars on the market: CO2 emissions can be as low as 104 g/km and the fuel efficiency can be all the way up at the dizzying heights of 70 miles per gallon if you specify the 2.0 litre diesel engine with manual gearbox. For those who feel a manual Jaguar is a little uncouth rest assured that there is the option of an eight-speed automatic gearbox and now four-wheel drive too.
Prices for this new XF start from £32,300 for the base diesel with the manual gearbox and there are four models available: Prestige, R-Sport (sporty looks), Portfolio (luxury) and S (reserved for the 3.0 litre petrol or diesel engine only). Standard specification is generous with leather seats, satellite navigation and xenon headlamps all being present and correct without having to delve into the options list.
The new XF is unmistakably a Jaguar. It is just a shame that it initially appears to be a bigger version of Jaguar’s small saloon the XE. Not a bad thing per se as the XE is quite a looker but variety is the spice of life surely? Jaguar will tell you that design continuity is important in new markets as it allows consumers unfamiliar with the brand to easily spot a Jaguar out in the wild.
But look a little more closely and you can tell this new XF plays out like a greatest hits album for the company, with admittedly most submissions coming from XE, but there are some collaborations from the previous generation XF in profile form and there is even a guest appearance from the F-Type in its rear light design.
It is a fine looking car no doubt and caused one existing XF owner to stop his car to march over to declare his love for this new model. That will be job done for the designers then.
Jaguar have always had a reputation for offering an interior ambience akin to a Gentleman’s Club with lashings of wood and leather, which if nothing else felt incredibly luxurious and suitably different. The first generation XF continued that theme with an interior that felt bespoke and special and a world away from the equivalent German cabins. Unfortunately, this latest XF does not wow in the same way and if anything now feels closer in execution to the typical Germanic offerings. Thankfully there are still some of the previous model’s theatre all present and correct from a starter button that pulses red, daring you to press it, through to contemporary mood lighting and finally air vents that glide open to greet you as you begin your journey.
It is undoubtedly modern, attractive and well put together, just not necessarily special. If it had borrowed parts from the flagship XJ, rather than the entry level XE, I could have waxed lyrical for England on how decadent it all felt but alas not. The leather too in this ‘S’ model, was not the buttery soft affair it should be and it felt like it was sourced from a laboratory rather than from a beast out in a field. The other aspect where Jaguar would benefit from is in offering more interior trims so that the customer can tailor their Jaguar exactly to their tastes. Something is not right with the world in my humble opinion when you can specify a MINI more bespoke than a Jaguar.
What the interior does major on however, is comfort with beautifully supportive seats and much improved interior space. Unlike the XE, the new XF will accommodate four adults with ease. Convenience wise, the boot is now much larger at 540 litres, outclassing much of the competition and the back seats can also be specified to fold to help transport larger items.
Elsewhere the interior also benefits from Jaguar’s standard 8-inch touchscreen which controls your interaction with the car for entertainment and information purposes. It responds much faster than previous generations, but I would still personally prefer a separate selector to save from having to aim, point and press whilst on the move.
This is where the XF comes into its own and anyone unfamiliar with the latest batch of Jaguars may be surprised to learn that nearly all the current model range offer a fantastic driving experience. This new XF is no exception and it starts with a wonderful driving position that allows you to instantly get comfortable and feel at one with the car. I was lucky enough to test the pick of the range (budget- willing) which is the 3.0 diesel with 8-speed automatic gearbox that offers the perfect blend of performance and economy. Vital statistics are 0 – 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, 300 PS, combined fuel economy of 50 miles per gallon and CO2 emissions of 144 g/km.
Start up the XF and the diesel engine initially seems to forget that it is serving in a Jaguar sounding a little more agricultural than it strictly should at this price level but out on the move it quickly remembers its place again and settles down into a quiet purr, offering turbine smooth performance no matter how hard you drive the car. As the driver you also quickly feel the benefit of the aluminium construction as the XF feels agile despite the fact that this is quite a big cat. There is minimal roll in the bends and the steering has a wonderful feel to it allowing you to place it accurately on the road and glide it from one bend to another. The 8-speed gearbox is ultra-responsive and goes about its business with the minimum of intrusion or fuss. Quite simply this is the best driving executive car on the market and when combined with this bigger 3.0 diesel engine it pulls like an express train and yet still manages to sparingly drink its fuel at a rate of forty miles per gallon in day to day driving.
As well as driver entertainment Jaguar have not forgotten the other quality they are famous for: refinement. No other car company manages to pull off a better compromise between ride comfort and driver entertainment. Generally speaking, when a car is engineered to handle well it often forces the occupants to endure a ride quality akin to that of a Big Dipper fairground ride. Not so with the XF as it still manages to offer a beautifully smooth ride soaking up all the lumps and bumps of the road despite wearing over-sized 20 inch wheels in this particular specification. It is wonderfully quiet in the cabin also with very little road noise or tyre roar which helps when the only thing you want to drive is your inner zen.
This new XF is the first Jaguar to sport LED (Light Emitting Diodes) headlights which apart from looking incredibly fancy are very clever too, using multiple LED emitters to project a light that is close to daylight on to the road ahead. This means as the driver you suffer less fatigue from having to strain your eyes at night or in poor weather conditions. This new technology also allows the headlights to be more proactive as well, swivelling around the bends so the driver can see around corners and dimming certain parts of the light to save dazzling oncoming traffic.
Inside, you can specify your new XF with ‘Virtual Instrument Display’ which offers the driver a 12.3 inch virtually rendered dashboard. As the driver you can then configure your display to what you want to see. From virtual instruments that look as crisp and clear as conventional analogue items through to viewing the satellite navigation instruction in all its full 3D mapping widescreen glory.
There is also the option of what Jaguar call ‘Incontrol Touch Pro’ which is an upgrade from the standard 8-inch central touchscreen to a larger 10.2-inch screen. This is more than just a bigger screen, running a much more powerful processor to give faster response times to inputs. It also offers smartphone like interaction with swiping and pinch to zoom gestures so that you can easily manage the displays. The satellite navigation instructions can also be sent from/to your smartphone to give door to door routing.
If all that fails, the system will send a revised ETA update to your nominated contact from the car hopefully saving you from having a red face and having to incur an angry one upon your eventual arrival.
Jaguar also offer a useful smartphone app which displays the vital statistics of your XF: level of fuel remaining or, the car’s status – for example whether it is locked or whether you have left a window open inadvertently. Helpfully the app will also pin point where you last left your XF saving you from the acrimony of aimlessly charging around a car park cursing under your breath about how you really should have paid more attention to Orienteering lessons at school.
The new Jaguar XF is a fine looking car that not only writes the cheques but cashes them too thanks to its fine mix between driver thrills and excellent refinement. Its reduced weight and its ability to offer high fuel economy and low emissions adds the sparkle that its interior slightly lacks. The new XF is Smooth for passengers, Stirring for the driver and Sparing for its owner.
Model tested: XF 3.0 Diesel S model at £58,355 (0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds, average of 51 miles per gallon, 300 PS, 144 g/km of CO2 emissions and annual road tax of £145).
Priced from: £32,300 for XF 2.0 Diesel Prestige model at 163 PS with manual transmission (0-60 mph in 8.2 seconds, average of 70 miles per gallon, 104 g/km of CO2 emissions and annual road tax of £20).
Motoring Writer, Road Test Reviewer & Car Consultant