THE ALL NEW JAGUAR XF REAFFIRMS ITS STATUS AS THE NEWCOMER XE’S BIGGER, MORE EXPERIENCED SIBLING, WITH THE SAME CLEVER PLATFORM UNDERNEATH BUT EVEN MORE ROOM INSIDE
Ah yes, the Jaguar XF, I remember that. With Jaguar’s ever-expanding line-up of new models, it’s easy to forget that the large sedan remains the volume seller (for now anyway), as well as the genesis of “new“ Jaguar under the stewardship of Tata Motors.
The XF was the first great hope of the reborn Jaguar. It was new, different and exciting and it was an instant smash, banishing forever the notion that an X-Type or S-Type was a “proper” Jaguar. The XF was canon and — for an executive sedan — it was cool. And that was vitally important at a crossroads in the long and esteemed history of the British brand.
Now all of a sudden the XF is “new” Jaguar’s longest serving model, having done all the heavy lifting in getting bums back on Coventry cloth while newcomers of various shapes and shades have joined the family. The XJ wowed audiences and caused controversy in equal measure.
The F-Type coupe and convertibles proved utterly sensational from the get-go, while the recently debuted XE mid-size sedan serves up a smorgasbord of new engineering technologies that will take Jaguar Land Rover into its next era of manufacturing.
Nice then that the good old XF has been fully updated for 2016 too, and incorporates some impressive new tricks.
After last year’s mid-size XE sedan, the updated XF is the second Jaguar to be built on the manufacturer’s new Aluminium Intensive architecture, which saves plenty of weight (up to 190kg) and provides for better torsional stiffness. The car is around 75 per cent aluminium and, like the XE before it, around 75 per cent of that aluminium is recycled. The door skins, boot lid and underbody protection panels all remain fabricated from steel however, to aid with the XF’s 50:50 weight distribution.
The updated body is shorter overall (7mm shorter than the original XF), but with a longer wheelbase within that footprint (2960mm for the new car versus 3011mm for the old). The longer wheelbase means back seat passengers reap rewards, with 15mm more legroom, 24mm more kneeroom and 27mm more headroom in the rear. The boot is bigger too, with a more useable shape.
Like the XE before it, all XFs now feature Jaguar’s Electronic Power Assisted Steering, as well as Jaguar’s new All-Surface Progress Control. This system will work at up to 30km/h and essentially mimics the action of all-wheel drive by using cruise control to help the car move off from slippery surfaces; it’s rather clever stuff, as is the XFs Autonomous Emergency Braking system, which is standard on every grade.
Overall there is a choice of three grades; Prestige, R-Sport and S, with petrol and diesel engines available for each. There is the four-cylinder pairing of a 132kW 2-litre turbo diesel and 177kW 2-litre turbo petrol, while the balance of the engines are 3-litre V6s.
Interestingly, Jaguar’s all-new Ingenium engine — which debuted in the XE — only features in the entry-level 2016 XF currently (the 2-litre XF 20d). Jaguar New Zealand expects the powerplants will be available across the whole range starting next year.
In company with the V6s here, the four-cylinder turbo diesel XF 20d’s power figure of 132kW seems a bit ho-hum on paper, but it’s actually impressively lively on-road. A combination of the lighter AI architecture and the oiler’s big slab of peak torque (430Nm) from low in the rev range makes it an eager machine, whether on the motorway sprint or through more sinewy terrain.
The XE 35t R-Sport I also drove boasts 250kW and 450Nm; a tidy equation delivering 0-100km/h in 5.4 seconds.
The top-line XF S models — an Sd 3-litre turbo diesel V6 and a full monty XF S supercharged petrol V6 — don’t arrive for another six weeks, so we didn’t get to sample these on the media launch. However they certainly look the part, with great swathes of muscled-up body armour, including a boot-lid spoiler, gloss black grille with satin chrome surround and satin chrome side vents, red brake calipers inside 19-inch gloss grey alloy wheels and an ‘S’ bodykit.
According to the distributor, the XF Sd 3-litre turbo diesel V6 will prove the biggest seller when it finally makes landfall. Featuring the same powerful 271kW engine found in the Range Rover TDV6, the XF Sd boasts a colossal 700Nm of torque in its Jaguar state of tune.
As good as the manufacturer’s mainstay sedan is, in a busy year for Jaguar New Zealand the XF feels a bit like the appetiser ahead of the main course.
Jaguar’s first SUV design — the F-PACE — will debut this year and the distributor expects it to perform exceptionally well from the off, giving Jaguar a shot at proper mainstream volume beyond boutique brand loyalty. So much so that it’s inevitable it could cannibalise other models in the line-up, especially XF. And especially the XF Sportbrake estate too, the latest version of which will arrive in the country nanoseconds before drumrolls commence for the F-PACE, which will take over the title as the biggest seller for the brand.
Mind you, Jaguar New Zealand product and network capability manager Paul Ricketts says the opportunities for “conquest” sales — that is, sales to first-time Jaguar buyers stolen away from other medium-SUV models from the likes of Audi and Porsche — will be huge for the distributor following the SUV’s arrival mid-year.
In the meantime, the 2016 XF line-up certainly has plenty to excite. With an emphasis on sporty performance thanks to its new platform and premium packaging inside its more spacious cabin, the XF remains an intelligent choice in the face of German alternatives.