Reported by Matthew Thomas
2016 is a big year for Jaguar. The launch of the new XE compact and the F pace will complete the family of cars from their new aluminium structure. The XF is the second generation of their mid-size sedan and represents a significant leap forward from its predecessor.
The swept back headlamps and large open grill take much of their styling from the XE and XJ but now has the feel of a range of vehicles rather than just different models without collective identity. I also like how the S model shares some of its sporting touches with the F type.
Jaguar have cleverly carved out much more space in the all new XF, thanks largely to a longer wheel base and lower rear seats they have achieved a substantial increase in head and leg room in the back seats. New rear quarter windows and sun roof give plenty of light in the back and creates a brilliantly spacious rear cabin for a car in this class. Rear cabins can often feel claustrophobic and Jaguar legitimately claim there is more room for passengers than their nearest rivals.
The cockpit is such a pleasant place to sit. The XF is a far cry from the woods and flimsy switches of yesteryear Jaguars. The XF was the first car to have the circular gear lever rise from the centre console and it still is such a great touch. The air vents rotate inwards when you turn off the ignition to give the dash a long uninterrupted line, yet another example of how far the cabin and controls have come. The switch gear fit and finish is great, I really like the red stitching along the dash which justifiably warrants the price tag for the S model.
The 10.2 inch touchscreen is very cool and works incredibly well, whilst the Jaguar sat nav is one of the best I’ve come across in any car. The centre console is mirrored to a screen between the dials similar to that in the Range Rover and a driver new to the brand would really notice the quality. The system contains a “home” screen which is easy to navigate and has some fantastic compatibility with either Apple or Android Apps. Couple this with the excellent head up display and this car is nothing short of technologically laden without feeling overly complicated.
The most important thing with a Jag is how it drives and the XF doesn’t disappoint. The steering is near perfect weight. So many electric assisted steering setups lack meatiness and feel that’s certainly not the case here; you get such good feedback through the steering wheel. Thanks to the car being made of 75% aluminium the car is not only lighter but also stiffer and stronger which has had a dramatic effect on performance and handling.
This is a dynamic and agile car through the corners with a lot of the body roll you’d expect to find in a car of this size is so well managed by the clever, new rear suspension. How the car rides is also so important in making this car a great long distance cruiser. On first look it’s substantially improved from the old XF. The other big beneficiary in shedding nearly 100kg of weight is the speed off the line and the emissions figures. This car can really shift. 0-100Kph is delt with in 5 seconds flat and Jaguar claim it will achieve 30mpg on highways which for a 380bhp supercharged rear wheel drive car, that’s outstanding.
Nothing adds to a great driving experience more than the right noise and the XF certainly has its bases covered. On the open highways at cruising speed this car is quiet and refined, a very relaxing place to be. However, drop the gearbox into sport mode and the car stiffens up, the steering and throttle response sharpens and the engine produces a gorgeous growl. It’s certainly not the raging howl of the F type but it still has so much character
It really is so difficult to pick fault with the job Jaguar have done with the XF and class competitors will certainly be worried. If I’m really critical the brake pedal is a little spongy for my liking especially for a car of this size but I really am nit-picking. The gearbox is excellent even if a little clunky on downshifts in sport mode. There’s a little more play and softness in the cornering than in the XE, quite deliberately, with motorway cruising in mind.
What I absolutely love about this car is how it can be all things to all men. After a long hard day at work you can sit back pop the cruise control on and glide home effortlessly, enjoying the superb entertainment system. If it’s a road trip to a neighbouring emirate it’s got the space in the boot and backseats for a whole family and their luggage. Despite all this comfort and refinement this is one of the very few sedans that wouldn’t feel out of place being thrown about a race track it’s so well put together.
I tip my cap to the engineers at Jaguar, well done gentlemen you’ve produced one hell of a car. Available to purchase exclusively from Al Tayer Motors.