Wednesday 24 April 2024

REVIEW – Jaguar XF R-Sport

In my recent review of the F-Pace, I explained that Jaguar has been refreshing its model line-up, and that the newest cars were some of the best in its history. So now, as I sit here to write about my time with the XF, I can echo those sentiments once more. This is a car that was definitely due a bit of cosmetic surgery. First unveiled in 2007, it had a facelift in 2011. But after that long, it was time for an overhaul. What you are looking at here is the second generation XF. And I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel. If the XE and F-Pace were anything to go by, this would be a great week. So let’s get on with it…

Looks – 10/10

The restyling of the XF brings it in line with the current Jaguar model line-up, and it now looks like the big brother to the XE that it is. To the front, that rounded grille and ‘J’ LED daytime running lights are very Jaguar. The headlights are slimmer and more angular than before, and the lower front bumper is carved in a sporty manner. The side profile is recognisable from the old model, but is improved by the addition of some new alloy wheel designs. At the back the rear quarter line flows seamlessly into a slight lip spoiler, and two prominent exhaust tips highlight that this is the R-Sport model. The gloss black window surrounds can be added to with the ‘black pack’ (£665) comprising black side vents, front grille surround and boot detailing.

Open the door, and the cabin beckons you to get in and get comfortable. For the R-Sport the addition of sumptuous, body-hugging sports seats are a welcome treat: nicely bolstered, hunkered down and available in a variety of trim and colours (the black/red combo is particularly nice!). A leather dashboard brings heaps of quality, as do the high-end finishers: from aluminium to the expensive carbon fibre (a £1,125 option). The cool swivelling air vents remain, although not for the centre console vents: this has been redesigned to incorporate the larger multimedia screen. The dials are analogue with a central TFT display, unless you opt for InControl Touch PRO, when you get the delightful virtual instrument cluster. My favourite feature in the cabin is the line running from one door to the other, running under the window. I first saw this in an XJ and have always thought it a brilliant piece of styling.

Handling/Performance – 9/10

There are a few engine choices in the Jaguar XF, ranging from a 2.0-litre diesel with 163PS up to a 3.0-litre V6 petrol with 380PS. Mine was the 2.0-litre diesel with 180PS and 430Nm of torque. It had the 8-speed automatic gearbox and, best of all, came with AWD. It’s a good engine, and enough to haul the XF from 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 136mph. The 8-speed gearbox is a must for me: it’s slick, smooth and has steering wheel mounted paddles for that truly engaging drive. Power delivery is smooth, and the Jaguar engineers have done well to keep that diesel engine noise from entering the cabin. On the motorway the XF is as good a cruiser as any, and the 180PS feels enough. Having said that, it did lack that bit of oomph when pushing harder. Fear not though, because there is a 240PS version of the diesel available.

As for the handling; Jaguar has worked hard on the chassis for the XF. With a double wishbone front suspension with aluminium components (and that’s similar to what you get on an F-Type by the way), you get the sense this has been designed as a driver’s car. My test car had the adaptive dynamics package (£1,020) which continually monitors the damping along with driving style and road conditions to ensure that the XF is always set up best. When cruising on the motorway, the XF felt comfortable. Pushing hard on an A-road, the car felt firmer and more composed. Couple that to the AWD grip, which is reassuring in even the wettest, slipperiest conditions, and you have a car which handles very well indeed. Everything about the XF, from the driving position to the steering weight and responsiveness, highlights that this is a car designed around the driver. I’d love to see just how good that 380PS S version is…

Economy – 10/10
With the new range of Ingenium engines, Jaguar has targeted that elusive blend of performance and efficiency. I’m not entirely sure how they’ve done it – I think there may be some degree of witchcraft to the engine – but the figures speak for themselves. The 180PS AWD achieves combined fuel consumption of 57.7mpg. For a large executive saloon you really can’t argue with that. Even the 240PS version achieves 51.4mpg. As for CO2 emissions, I think that 129g/km for an auto AWD car is pretty good. That means the first year rate is £160, and £140 thereafter. Keep in mind though, the R-Sport 180PS AWD starts at £38,860, which is fine. But if you put a few options on it, and you’ll creep over that annoying £40,000 limit, triggering the additional £340 surcharge for 5 years. Annoying but, in the grand scheme of things, wouldn’t put me off having some of the finer gadgetry.

Practicality – 10/10

As a car to live with day to day, the XF is faultless. The size difference over the XE is even more noticeable when you study the cabin space: the rear legroom is more than adequate for even tall adults. The boot is a fair size too, although the saloon body means that the opening is somewhat restrictive. For extra convenience an electric tailgate can be chosen, and this takes the chore out of closing the boot. First world living at its finest. The R-Sport models are generously equipped as standard, including rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry and go, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition with intelligent speed limiter, heated front seats and rear parking aid. This may be the sporty trim level but it doesn’t compromise on luxury, and that’s part of the attraction to Jaguar. And, if you feel yourself wanting that bit of extra practicality, then why not look at the XF Sportbrake which is available now with the same improvements as the saloon.

Fun – 8/10

As mentioned earlier, the adaptive dynamics and superb chassis of the XF make it a pretty good car to drive. However, with 180PS in such a big car there will inevitably be times you will find yourself wanting more. The biggest improvement to the range is the offering of AWD, and there are currently several versions which get it: 180PS and 240PS diesel versions and 250PS and 300PS petrol versions. That brings the XF into better competition with the likes of Audi and BMW, which have their Quattro and xDrive systems respectively. Another major factor from behind the wheel is the InControl system. It seamlessly connects devices and allows you to control media, navigation, telephone and vehicle options effortlessly. It enhances the driving experience and made the XF a great companion on a drive. To really get that fun factor though, and to make the most of that brilliant AWD grip, I’d suggest passing on the 180PS diesel.

Concluding Remarks

Jaguar is certainly back on the map. This second generation XF is brilliant: retaining that “Jaaaaaaaag” swagger whilst adding the latest technology to make it even better to live with. The revised styling is an improvement, ditching the curves for a sharper, more angular look. And the cabin, while still maintaining cool features such as James Bond-esque swivelling air vents, now features a widescreen multimedia screen, sporty bucket seats for the R-Sport model and bigger TFT display between the dials. It just looks and feels quality. The new engines are great, and with optional AWD it’s more capable than ever. Price? Well the 180PS AWD R-Sport starts at £38,650. Go wild with the options list, and the Jaguar press office did, and you’re looking at as-near-as-damn-it £50k. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great car. Just be careful before you tick all the boxes! For more info visit your local dealer or see the Jaguar website. It may well be Indian-owned, but there’s still an air of Britishness about Jaguar. And the XF allows the driver moral supremacy over its German rivals. I like that.

Total Score – 47/50

Editor-in-chief, Senior Reviewer

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