Take a well regarded car, develop the dynamics, spruce up the interior and add a smaller and more efficient powerplant. Does it work and keep the XF fresh and impressive?
The XF is a tough one not to dislike. Its been a runaway success from day one thanks to its smart looks, impressive chassis, driver involvement and quality that’s leaps and bounds ahead of traditional Jaguars of old. But in the current climate where green is the new black Jaguar started slipping behind its main rivals from Bavaria so far as emissions and green criteria mattered. The all new i4 “ingenuium” engine – designed and built in a brand new assembly plant close to Wolverhampton was developed to improve matters and is the first wave of all new JLR developed power units rather than be reliant on units sourced from PSA or Ford.
First impressions give little away in terms of what seems a mid life facelift, but look closer and you will spot it’s much more than that, new lamps front and rear and some new wheel designs are the most obvious. But there’s nothing wrong with the exterior anyway, I think its a handsome machine from all angles and its on the inside and under the bonnet where changes needed to be made. From the drivers seat the first thing to notice are the revised centre console, instruments and facia air vents. The head unit / infotainment unit has been modernised, the centre vents are now a more traditional affair and the instruments feature a tunnel look and are shared with the Jaguar XE.
Those who are familiar to Jaguar controls will soon become used to the new items mentioned and there’s now the added feature of a mobile 4G Wi-Fi hotspot too. It also seems noticeable that there is a slight improvement in build quality – especially noticeable with the column stalks, they look the same but feel that little bit more robust and damped in action. Rear seat passengers have a seat cushion that has been re-angled and re-shaped in order to glean a little extra leg and head room – the former is still a bit average but noticeably improved. The revisions have by no means sacrificed any comfort.
Up ahead in the engine room you’ll find the first fruits of JLR’s new engine design programme. Its an all new 2.0 16 valve plant which delivers for this model 163Ps and a useful 380Nm of torque. Coupled up to a familiar but tuned electronic ZF eight speed auto box any first thoughts of a weeny highly strung engine are soon banished. Once warmed through (which it does quickly) the 2.0 i4 settles down to a muted clatter on idle that’s virtually un-noticeable in the cabin. It pulls very well indeed and only makes you raise an eyebrow if you push really hard round the dial in paddle-shift mode but you are always aware its a four cylinder unit.
Sensible ratios mean there’s a decent level of zest and progress should you require it (0-60 in 8.2) but motorway cruising at the legal max is silent and devoid of any unwanted mechanical racket. The XF remains an absolute delight to tick off the miles and hours behind the wheel, as a motorway machine its up there with the very best Europe has to offer. But bending A and B roads bring in another level of XF brilliance… its chassis. Sure footed cornering with well weighted steering, powerful brakes and good seat bolster support all adds extra confidence despite the car being fitted with 16″ rims and eco tyres.
As a driving experience the XF feels modern and classic as only Jaguar seem to pull off. Its smooth, good riding and blissfully stress free when cruising while being grin inducing when you twirl the sensibly sized steering wheel to and fro. But what impressed me more than anything was the sheer efficiency of the package. During some journeys to County Durham and the Yorkshire ridings, the XF came within a Cats whisker of the claimed fuel consumption average. No matter how you drive or press on for fun it seems difficult to get less than the mid 50’s, in fact my overall average was an amazing 64+ mpg.
All this and more from a car that costs not a penny more than £20 a year to tax after the first year of ownership. Its list price excluding options also represents decent value at a shade over £34,400. This results in a damn fine package that’s ideal for fleet users or cost conscious family drivers and the level of equipment shouldn’t disappoint either. Tech & spec includes heated leather, dual zone ATC, Wi-Fi, Auto wipers and lights, all the required media inputs, lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition. One option worth considering is the adaptive LED headlamp function at £1,225. Never before have I experienced such an impressive spread of light during dark and murky roads… they’re quite something to experience in action.
Overall… the XF remains a pretty looking package that now has the technology and efficiency to match the German executive rivals. The balance between eco efficiency and performance is almost perfect as is the chassis dynamics – its a delight to drive in any situation. Of course nothing, and what is, perfect these days. Some lower dash plastics and materials are hard and scratchy to the touch, headroom remains only average and residual values tend to take a tumble, but there is little to bash the Jaguar with on a serious note. JLR have skilfully brought the XF up to date and speed with established class-mates… its a really impressive demonstration of just how talented our British engineers and designers are on a world scale these days.
AUTOBRITANNIA RATING? 9/10
The Humble Opinion
Not much more needs to be said. Its not perfect and some quality points don’t quite stack up to BMW or Mercedes if you really look hard enough, but nothing would stop you seriously considering the XF.
The lines still look divine – its unmistakably a modern Jaguar and the chassis is nigh on perfect for those who like to pootle along or spiritedly press right on. Its driving dynamics continue to command driver respect while the interior manages to blend its new found technology with traditional class… once again, something only Jaguar seem to pull off convincingly.
It performs well, is incredibly efficient and oozes charm and good taste… a very difficult car not to love and enjoy.
Should you buy and if not why? What the hell do you think???
Model Tested: Jaguar XF Prestige 2.0i4 (163Ps)
Produced By: Jaguar Land Rover Group Castle Bromwich
Price: £34,050 excluding options
Engine: 2.0 i4D 4 cylinder diesel with DPF
Power: 163Ps with 380Nm of torque
Performance: *0 – 60 in 8.2 seconds (132mph max)
Economy: 68.9 mpg combined* (64.3 mpg on actual test)
VED / Co2: 109G/Km – Band B
* = Manufacturers or Govt claimed data
THE HIGHS: Superb chassis and ride dynamics – Amazing economy & emissions – Refined when cruising – Smart looks – Well equipped – Good performance – Ideally matched driveline – Good usable tech – Represents decent value for family or fleet user choosers.
THE LOWS: Uncertain residuals – Can become rowdy when pushed hard – Still lacks rear headroom for the taller occupant – Some minor plastics and trim below class expectations in terms of quality.
For more information on the Jaguar XF or Jaguar range CLICK HERE