Driven : Jaguar XF 3.0 TDV6 S (296bhp)

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

It’s been a little while since the Jaguar XF sneaked onto the marketplace, but it’s already established itself as a credible alternative to the German opposition in the executive car sector.

How does the higher-powered turbodiesel in V6 form stand up to a long week behind the wheel?

Jaguar XF (1)

Jaguar’s range is expanding agreeably – and, although the F-Pace and XE have both stolen the limelight recently, the 2015 XF is a vitally-important kingpin to the company’s future success. The all-new aluminium platform that underpins the range is fundamental to the XF, and helps explain why it hit the market less than a year after the XE did. Such things would never have been possible in the Jaguar of old.

The XF’s body might look like a gentle, and slightly timid evolution of the old model but it’s now built largely from aluminium to lower weight, and the new four-cylinder Ingenium diesel engines (straight-sixes to follow), which help define its character, all deliver more impressive numbers than those produced by their Ford-based predecessors.

We’re sampling the the 296bhp 3.0-litre TDV6 S (its Ingenium replacement will be a straight-six), which is not set to be a big seller in the range – that honour goes to the 2.0-litre diesels which come with either six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearboxes. Our press car comes in at £49,995 but is generously optioned to a whopping £59,180. Some of the toys that you can possibly do without are the cabin pre-heat, laser head-up display and soft-closing doors, but the rest of the package is more than class competitive. In that, it seems Jaguar has learned from the Germans – equip it well, but give user-choosers the option of ladling in far more equipment than they need.

Visually, it’s hard to fault the XF. Yes, after the impact of the original car, this one’s rather generic-looking. However, in S form, with the optional black pack, it looks purposeful, and the 20in wheels do a great job of filling the arches and accentuating the subtle overall design. In comparison with its rivals, especially from Audi and BMW, it feels pitched at the right level, even if some old-school Jaguar fans might lament the passing of more traditional design cues.

On the road, its ride is on the firm side, especially at low speeds around town, although it’s never anything other than impeccably damped. The V6S is fitted with optional adaptive dampers and that’s probably a big factor in the car’s impressive body control. As for the handling, there really is ample grip and keen turn-in, which is a good thing in a car with some much power, torque and a gearbox that’s as responsive as this. You never forget it’s a big car, but it’s still impressively wieldy.

Like the XE we recently sampled, the XF’s steering is direct and full of feedback – clearly much work has been done here to ensure you’re never left feeling shortchanged in terms of feel. The eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox adapts seamlessly to your driving style, is impressively smooth shifting and responsive if you drop into manual mode to change on the paddle shifters.

As for performance, it really isn’t lacking at all – acceleration is smooth, instantaneous and linear in its response. Yes, it’s a diesel, so you’ll not enjoy it for its smooth, gravelly soundtrack, but you will have a ball thanks to easily accessed power – and 35mpg real-world fuel consumption. Jaguar claims a 0-60mph time of 5.8 seconds, tops it with a limited maximum speed of 155mph, and the Government-combined fuel consumption is 51.4mpg. Drive it in the way it deserves to be, and that will drop much closer to our ‘real world’ figure. The tax man will not like it as much as you – you get all that grace and pace with a 144g/km emissions figure.

Jaguar XF (3)

Inside, it’s as you’d expect, following on from the old XF’s design themes. The new XF keeps the rotating air vents and rotary gear selector of its predecessor, but the rest is all new, following on from the XE in much of its thinking. A very responsive touchscreen has been thrown in for good measure.

The driving position is low and snug, while the wide centre console cocoons you agreeably – and, yes, there’s a heated steering wheel. Quality is good, with much care paid to dashboard surfaces – it’s just that some of the controls in the centre console aren’t quite as visible as you’d like. That is a case of nit-picking, though. Overall, you won’t be left feeling shortchanged in the slightest for choosing British instead of German.

There’s good news for passengers, too. Rear legroom is up by 15mm, while headroom has increased by up to 27mm, so it’s roomy and accessible. The boot is capacious and well-shaped as well. Spend a little more and you can even treat the kids to heated rear seats and four-zone climate control.

The new XF isn’t a Jaguar gamechanger like its predecessor was back in 2007. But, then, it doesn’t need to be. What it does is evolve that car effectively, while shifting on to an all-new platform, and endowing it with new drivetrains. The new XF builds on the strengths of the outgoing car, but without any of those ‘oh, it’s good, considering…’ moments. Overall, especially in our Black-trimmed model, you’d consider this a DERV-sipping sports saloon – and we’d happily take it over the benchmark BMW 5-Series.

At this level, the feel-good factor plays hard – and it’s here the XF does well. It’s a handsome beast on its big wheels and, in white, it’s sleek and elegant, with a low-slung silhouette that accentuates its sporting credentials. Whether we would think the same of a lower-powered 2.0-litre turbodiesel on smaller wheels is open to debate… probably not. So, the XF is a class-leading product out of the box, and one we’d happily recommend without reservation. It doesn’t turn the dial in its sector, but what it does do is help cement the British motor industry’s place at the automotive top table.

It’s also not bad to live with, either!

Jaguar XF (2)

 

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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17 Comments

  1. I find the reference to the BMW 5 series as being the benchmark for this class rather hard to understand. That is a design a small part of which goes back some 6 years, and much more of which goes back the best part of 15 years, and which must now surely be nearing the end of its useful production life . It is significant that the mid-size BMW which once was something to aspire to is now rather ordinary , and only seems to sell in small numbers apart from the entry level 520d . The original XF was infinitely superior to the 5 series in every way, and I see no reason why the 6 cylinder versions of this XF should not also be superior. The 4 cylinder models , however, give me cause for concern as a departure from Jaguar’s traditional market, and I just wish that Jaguar was not steadily cheapening its interiors with every model it introduces ( as indeed are BMW and Mercedes-Benz)

  2. There’s little point in appealing to their traditional market, when the market has moved on. As you say, the 5 Series only sells in significant numbers when it’s powered by their 2.0 diesel. Company car taxation now means that this is now as large as an engine can get before the tax man hammers it.

    The only way is to give up on company cars (like I did), or accept that one of these engines is going to be as good as it gets. All the larger engines will sell in very small numbers in comparison.

    As far as interiors go, most of the target market would have bought BMW’s, Audi’s or Mercedes anyway, so the bar isn’t set particularly high to begin with.

    I wish them luck with this car though, it deserves some success.

  3. The reality is that this class of car has been killed in the UK by the sizing up into what was 7 and XJ foot print and taxation that pushes people to small 4 cylinder oil burners.

    The 3 and hopefully the XE 4 pot oil burner is what the customers who would have bought a 518/ 520 / 523 (so most 5 series customers) in the late 80s and early 90s, or to be correct their companies would have bought them, now buy.

  4. I’m not so sure. I’ve just been to check the CO2 figures on the 2.0 XF and they are only 104g (manual) and 109g (automatic), so it does become a viable, tax efficient, alternative to a 3 Series, but better suited to people of at least average size.

  5. In 2.0 form this isn’t much dearer than an XE. Maybe £2-3k on the list price and another 1% on the BIK, so probably about £30 a month extra tax over an XE. Not too bad if you need the extra space.

    A shame if they don’t offer an estate this time around as the CO2 on the F-Pace is a lot higher and I suspect the interior on the XF is better.

  6. Looks a nice car with impressive performance but much too expensive.

    “the new Ingenium diesel engines, which help define its character, all deliver more impressive numbers than those produced by their Ford-based predecessors” which implies the V6 in this car is part of the Ingenium family. Willing to be corrected if I’m wrong on this but my understanding from the press releases is that the 6 cylinder engines in the Ingenium family are straight sixes and due to hit the market next year. The V6 in the test car is an older engine developed by Ford/Peugeot.

  7. TBH jaguar are not alone in making awfull interiors, although I find it a shame they feel the need to copy the Germans and fill it full of cheap nasty looking brushed alloy that looks fake. I have spent a while waiting about at Brunty looking at modern mercs/BMWs and stitting in them and they are just as awfull. The only modern car that seems to have any concept at all of how to do it properly is the Tesla

  8. I initially thought the face lifted XF was a real mess but seen a few now and in the right colour and spec they are handsome looking things. In all honesty provided the engines are competitive on economy, performance and emissions as a complete package then the Jaguar is better looking, so should be able to see off BMW, the new E-Class is dull beyond words.
    Keep it up Jaguar

  9. @ Stuart:

    CO2 rates are virtually irrelevant for private purchasers. However, for company car tax purposes, it’s mission critical! If I still ran a company car, then something horrible like a 320d would cost me around £200 a month in tax. However, my current Disco 4 would cost around £750 a month (all as the result of CO2 emissions!). That’s equivalent to around £6,600 a year!

  10. I’m curious to know what the point of having a 300bhp car is in Britain today. After all, the speed limit is 70mph (80mph indicated on the motorway) and there is so much traffic congestion that you will almost never get a chance to use more than half the BHP.

    The interior is naff, the space efficiency is dreadful and the exterior styling is bland.

  11. The new XF has been drastically cheapened in every way over the previous model.

    I’ve driven several and while the chassis is a peach and interior space much better, the design is way too conservative and the interior is a bloody disgrace.

    It is mostly made up of parts from the XE with a few bits to differentiate the XF and the material quality is appalling. Hard plastic everywhere.

    Jaguar are getting it wrong and will be punished both by current loyal owners and in future sales.

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