- Twin-turbo V6 diesel a sublime motor
- Brilliant seats and driving position
- It's not German, which is refreshing
- Expensive, once you've added key options…
- …like advanced safety tech, which is only optional
- Some interior surfaces aren't up to scratch
The first-generation Jaguar XF was the car that really turned the British brand’s fortunes around.
It combined flowing lines with sweet driving dynamics and did a fine job of changing perceptions of Jaguar as old-hat. The XF established itself as a worthy – if left-field – competitor to the E-Class, 5 Series and A6.
The simple fact that it wasn’t German made the Jag a breath of fresh air.
That car was sold for nine years but it aged well – and it’s not surprising the all-new model has stuck to a winning formula, at least in looks.
But the looks are where the similarities end: today’s Jags are very different to what the cash-strapped, Ford-owned Jaguar of 2007 was building.
The second-generation XF is a much more cohesive car that has effectively closed the refinement gap between it and the Germans.
However, its distinctive looks and superb driving dynamics mean it still feels uniquely British.
Sporty Jaguars are badged ‘S’, and while a supercharged petrol XF S is available, the most interesting engine available is the S Diesel – a twin-turbo V6 generating a shattering 700Nm of torque.
That sort of twist makes light work of long distance driving while the diesel returns great fuel economy in the vicinity of 5.5L/100km.
Four-cylinder models are on offer but in a big cat like the XF, you really want a six – and among the sixes, the 30d S Diesel is particularly compelling.
A broad spread of engines are available for the XF. There’s two four-cylinders – a 132kW diesel and 177kW petrol and two supercharged petrol V6s in 250kW and 280kW states.
But it’s the 221kW twin-turbo diesel V6 that is the best match for the XF.
This is a large, long sedan and until the hyper XF R eight-cylinder arrives, it’s best to think of the XF as a cruiser, rather than a sports car.
That’s not to say the XF doesn’t have moves: the fast, creamy steering is the best in its class and the chassis is sweet enough to make the Jaguar feel tight when cornering.
However, the smaller XE sedan is much more agile, always feeling playful and light on its feet. That’s the car you should buy if you’re after a really sporty Jag with four-door practicality.
If you can accept the XF as an effortless cruiser with unusually good handling, then the S Diesel is simply sublime.
Despite agricultural origins the diesel engine is quiet and smooth.
It’s also extremely rapid. The petrols are quicker off the line but the diesel’s 700Nm of torque is outrageously potent once the XF is rolling. The XF S Diesel makes light work of overtaking, building serious pace with no drama.
This is a great engine for tackling country miles, blending impressive fuel economy with effortless speed.
Though the XE is the better handler, its firm suspension won’t be for everybody. The more supple XF cures that, with a comfortable suspension setting that cossets.
Bright-red brake calipers disguise a set of anchors that pull up the XF adequately but don’t offer particularly strong bite.
Road, engine and wind noise are all suppressed, with only a faint diesel grumble penetrating the cabin when pushing harder.
Significant parts of the XF’s interior are shared with the smaller XE sedan, which is mostly a good thing.
There is more room, of course, particularly in the back seat. Unlike in the XE, four large adults will be comfortable in the XF.
The XE’s brilliant seats make another appearance here and while they’re good in standard configuration, the $820 upgrade to 14-way adjustment is very worthwhile.
That option buys extra back and side bolstering which lets you get really comfortable, which makes driving the XF even more enjoyable.
Steering wheels are equally important and the XF gets the gorgeous little leather one from the F-Type sports car. It is lovely to hold.
The XE also gifts the XF most of its dashboard and centre stack – but where the shared seats are brilliant, the shared dash is only acceptable.
The standard eight-inch navigation screen is touch-based and easy to use – while the Meridian stereo is is connected to is excellent.
But there is hard plastic in some places where competitors give you stitched leather, like where your knee naturally rests.
The XF S is not just the performance model – it is the top-of-the-range model.
So it’s a bit surprising that the 10-inch widescreen navigation screen, feted at the XF’s debut in 2015, remains a $2,630 option. At least the Touch Pro package also adds an impressive 12-inch digital driver gauge screen.
The XF is a comfortable car to sit in, with its terrific driving position. However, buyers will naturally also look at the new Mercedes E-Class, where they will find a truly upscale interior.
That said, few Mercedes buyers will be attracted to the much sportier persona of the Jaguar – but the difference in interior presentation speaks to how competitive this class of car is.
Thinking of a Jaguar hardly conjures up thoughts of practicality, but the second-generation XF is an easy car to live with.
The long wheelbase means lots of space for passengers. There is a good amount of head and legroom in the front and the back.
The boot is isn’t quite as large as the German competitors but there is very little in it: the XF has 505 litres of space behind the back seats; the Audi A6 has about five percent more.
The shape isn’t exactly square but the back seats fold flat to give you some room.
A station wagon version of the XF existed in the original model, but it never came to Australia; you shouldn’t hold your breath this time, either. For a wagon, you’ll need to look further afield to the Germans, all of which offer a five-door.
In the cabin, cubby spaces are a bit tight but the box between the seats, glove box and door bins should be enough room for clutter.
Quick and tight steering also makes the XF more manoeuvrable than its size indicates.
The blind spot warning system is worthwhile as the slinky roofline creates two black spots – but even on the XF S, this is a $1,400 option. It should be standard.
RELIABILITY & RUNNING COSTS
Jaguar are shaking up Australian servicing arrangements by offering a servicing pack up-front at the time of purchase that, in effect, is a capped-price system.
For the V6 diesel, you can opt to pay an additional $1,600 when you buy the car. This covers the annual service for the first five years or 130,000 kilometres – this prices each service at $320 apiece – a bargain for a luxury brand.
The figures there reveal the generous servicing intervals: one year is average but every 26,000 kilometres is a testament to Jaguar’s belief in their engine technology.
All of this is shaking up the way the Germans offer servicing, and is forcing a less expensive approach from competing manufacturers.
The servicing plan indicates that Jaguar feel their reliability and quality are firming up – a good thing, as in recent years the brand has been average in reliability ratings. However, that assessment is based on older Ford-based Jaguars. The XF is part of the new Jaguar generation, built in-house, under their new owner – Tata – with their deep pockets. As the XF is still so new, it will be a year before we see the first owner reliability ratings. In the meantime, we recommend buying the inexpensive servicing package.
Predicted Jaguar XF depreciation is below average. After three years and 42,000km—the average—Glass’s Guide indicates that the XF S 30d will retain about 50% of its value. That’s similar to the rather niche Lexus GS 450h, but some way off the 56% of the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series.
VALUE FOR MONEY
There is only one fast-diesel model and that is the XF S 30d.
Importantly, this engine is only available on the XF – not the XE – though it will also feature on the forthcoming Jaguar F-Pace SUV.
At $121,850 it is not exactly inexpensive, but the S Diesel’s list price is lower than the Audi or the BMW.
Standard equipment covers the basics: navigation, a good premium stereo, LED headlamps, adaptive dampers, and electric seats. Confusingly, the S replaces full-leather seats from lower-end XF models with a suede-leather combination; putting the proper leather back in costs $1,130.
That hints at a gripe we have with the XF: the options list is long, and you’ll need to tick a few boxes to make this car really luxurious.
There’s the big navigation screen and digital gauges ($2,630), adaptive cruise control ($2,780), blind spot detection ($1,460), 14-way seat adjustment ($820), and heated and ventilated seats ($1,550). A sunroof will be important for some ($3,300). And then there’s the full leather.
After on-roads that means a realistic price is about $150,000 – suddenly this is a rather expensive car.
It’s only marginally dearer than an equivalent Audi A6 but that car drives faster and depreciates slower.
So the Jaguar will really appeal to the discerning buyer that specifically wants the British cat, rather than the shopper looking for a bargain.
Jaguar is unique in offering a diesel model in this class that is badged as a performance model. The XF S Diesel is treated as a partner to the quicker supercharged petrol XF S.
The blend of superb fuel economy with high performance is tempting – particularly as the Jaguar is wrapped in the same sporty package as the thirstier petrol.
There are a few competitors, though, that strike a similar size, performance and economy balance.
Audi offers a biturbo version of its three-litre diesel in the A6 sedan and wagon. It’s a real barnstormer – with all-wheel-drive it will sprint to 100 in five seconds.
BMW’s 535d has 630Nm of torque and is a little faster than the Jaguar – plus, deals are currently good on the ageing 5 Series.
Finally, the petrol-electric Lexus GS 450h is worth considering if absolute smoothness is the key. The GS is also considerably less expensive than the Europeans.
- Audi A6 TDI biturbo S Line quattro: ($124,900)
- BMW 535d M Sport: ($128,400)
- Lexus GS 450h F Sport: ($106,000)
|Power||221kW at 4,000rpm|
|Torque||700Nm at 2,000rpm|
|Power to weight ratio||129kW / tonne|
|Fuel consumption (combined)||5.5L/100km|
Transmission and Drivetrain
|Drivetrain||Rear wheel drive|
Dimensions and Weights
|Cargo space (seats up)||505L|
|Cargo space (seats down)||963L|