New Jaguar XF first drive

Jaguar XF





The original Jaguar XF four door executive sports saloons have been with us for eight years and it has been the brand’s global breadwinner in terms of sales with 280,000 built to date.

It competes against the premium German brand models such as the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes E-Class.

The all-new ‘aluminium-intensive’ XF saloon comes hot on the heals after Jaguar’s all-new XE four door compact saloon, the revised XJ limousine saloons and the extended F-Type hard-core two seater Coupe and Roadster models. A Jaguar F-Pace SUV will join the range in 2016.

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has also just announced their intention to open a production facility in Slovakia which could produce up to 300,000 Jaguar, Land Rover and Range Rover vehicles annually for their global markets. Last year JLR sold 462,678 vehicles worldwide – a 9% increase over 2013. Of that total 81,570 were Jaguars of which 18,401 were UK sales – a 13.5% increase over the previous year.

In the competitive automotive world time doesn’t stand still and an all-new Jaguar XF saloon 14 model range is with us with prices ranging from £32,300 to £49,945. Jaguar claims the new XF’s running costs are lower, residual values higher and insurance costs also lower than the saloon versions it replaces and its major German premium brand competitor models.

When it comes to a replacement for the outgoing XF Sportbrake estate, Ian Callum, director of design for Jaguar said at the global media launch in Spain last week for the XF saloon, “The business case for a new Sportbrake is difficult, it really only appeals in the UK market, it doesn’t have global appeal. In terms of other versions and powertrains nothing is off the agenda, everything is possible because it is a global product and it has to meet global market requirements.”

The all-new Jaguar XF saloon with new or revised EU6 engines and aluminium bodyshell – there is a weight-saving over the previous XF saloon version of up to 190kg, which Jaguar says is some 80kg lighter than the competition. The starter model in the range is the 2.0-litre 163hp new Jaguar Land Rover four cylinder Ingenium turbodiesel and officially this will return 70.6mpg in the Combined Cycle with CO2 emissions of just 104g/km. This is the lowest CO2 emissions of any non-hybrid model in the segment and a 19% improvement in fuel economy and CO2 emissions over the previous Ford based 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine. This means the manual gearbox version slips down to the 18% company car tax bracket whilst the comparable Audi/BMW models are in the 20% band and the Mercedes in the 22% band.

The engine line-up is 2.0-litre four cylinder Ingenium turbodiesels with 163 and 180hp power outputs both with manual and automatic transmissions, an automatic 3.0-litre, 300hp V6 turbodiesel and a 3.0-litre, 380hp V6 supercharged petrol – again with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Not available for the UK but in the line-up for other global markets is a 2.0-litre turbocharged 240hp petrol engine and there is an AWD option for the 3.0-litre, V6 supercharged petrol engine models but not the UK.

For the UK market the 2.0-litre diesel models are available with Prestige, R-Sport and Portfolio specification choices whilst the 3.0-litre diesel and petrol versions are S specification.

Jaguar XF  Jaguar XF  Jaguar XF  Jaguar XF

The coupe style side profile for the four door body of the new XF is described by Jaguar as ‘aluminium intensive’; around 75% of it uses aluminium. Although the overall length of the latest XF is 7mm shorter at 4,954mm due to the reduced front overhang, the wheelbase is 51mm longer at 2,960mm addressing one of the issues of the original XF – the lack of legroom for rear seat passengers. Jaguar claims a class-leading 15mm more rear legroom, 24mm more kneeroom, up to 27mm more headroom than before. The XF’s body has improved aerodynamics with a drag coefficient dropping from 0.29 to 0.26.

In reality the XF is a scaled-up version of the new compact XE saloon with its aluminium platform and double-wishbone and integral link suspension system with underbody shields to speed up airflow and reduce drag. Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) reduces fuel consumption by up to 2% for diesel models and 3% for petrol versions. EPAS also enables functions such as camber compensation and advanced driver assistance systems including lane-keep assist, driver condition monitoring with bay- and parallel parking assist. For automatic transmission models All-Surface Progress Control, developed for low-speed driving in adverse conditions, automatically manages the brakes and the throttle to deliver optimum traction enabling the car to pull away smoothly and the driver only has to operate the steering.

Stereo camera technology enables autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane keep assist are standard features and there are also extra features such as low speed tracking of a car in front such as use in slow speed traffic jams and an intelligent speed limiter which can restrict the car’s speed after automatically reading roadside speed limit signs. The all-new XF is also the first Jaguar model to offer adaptive full LED headlights which give a colour temperature closer to that of daylight than that provided
with Xenon lights. A high beam assist function option is available where the stereo camera will detect other vehicles and will dip the headlights automatically.

The interior of the new XF remains luxurious but it is simplified and less cluttered, perhaps less classic Jaguar than before. There is a wide dashboard with what Jaguar calls their Riva Hook, a prominent design line that sweeps across the dashboard and into the boors. There is a wide flat centre console which houses the pop-up controller for the automatic transmission versions. There are more sculptured leather upholstered seats with improved support. The rear seats are divided 40/20/40 with the centre seat able to be folded to provide a load-through function from the 540-litre boot. The boot also has a wider exterior opening to improve loading.

Lower end models have an 8.0-inch touchscreen whilst higher grade versions have a 10.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system including InControl Touch Pro navigation. Right in front of the driver is a 12.3-inch instrument cluster which features four visual themes for personalisation.

Whilst the new Jaguar XF has now caught up with the competition, it could be realistically claimed that it has in some areas surpassed competitors in its sector.

Laura Schwab, marketing director for Jaguar Land Rover UK, said at the media launch she expects UK sales of the new XF to be split 50/50 between private and fleet customers with the diesel engines taking the vast majority of sales, especially the 2.0-litre 180hp unit and the R-Sport level of specification should be the most popular. When it came to forecasting actual UK sales numbers for the XF, it was a firm ‘no comment’ but it is expected that the XF and the XE between them will double Jaguar’s UK 18,401 sales achieved last year with the smaller XE saloon range marginally outselling the new XF.

Test drive views
The first official global media test driving of the new Jaguar XF rear wheel drive executive saloon took place last week at Pamplona in the foothills of the Pyrenees and the F1, MotoGP and Superbike licensed Circuito de Navarra Spain. From the line-up of models priced from £32,300 we had the opportunity to drive on challenging mountainous roads the best selling all-aluminium 2.0-litre 180hp Ingenium turbodiesel and the 3.0-litre V6 300hp turbodiesel. Models with the 3.0-litre, V6 supercharged 380hp petrol engine were put through their paces at the impressive race circuit.

Whilst the higher performance V6 supercharged petrol unit was interesting to sample on the race circuit to explore the outright handling capabilities of the new XF saloon, the core model of most importance was the XF with be the 2.0-litre, 180hp Ingenium turbodiesel. This new in-house Jaguar Land Rover variable valve timing turbodiesel unit, and the 163hp version, are claimed to be 24% more fuel and CO2 efficient than the previous Ford supplied 163 and 200hp 2.2-litre engines used in the outgoing XF.

The 180hp unit develops 430Nm of torque from 1,750rpm and is available with either a new six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed automatic which was fitted to the test cars as it will be the most popular choice for UK customers. Top speed is 136mph with zero to 62mph taking 8.1-seconds. Fuel consumption in the Combined Cycle is officially 65.7mpg with CO2 emissions of 114g/km so VED road tax is £0 for the First Year rate and then £30 for Year Two onwards. Company car drivers will pay just 20% in Benefit-in-Kind tax. Our test model had R-Sport specification and with the auto gearbox it costs £36,850 but if a manual model is more suitable – the price is £35,100.

The 180bhp power output, also used in the new Jaguar XE compact saloon, gives a very respectable top speed of 136mph but as with the XE it is the torque of 430Nm (317lb ft) from 1,750rpm that gives it the real shove for acceleration.

The new Ingenium engine has a growl to it but it is not intrusive and once in ‘the cruise’ engine noise becomes more hushed but road noise intrusion becomes evident. Again as with the smaller Jaguar XE saloon it seems to be the case that aluminium body structures do transmit slightly more decibels and resonance than steel ones. With the eight-speed auto gearbox the engine is always in its sweet-spot for instant power delivery so mid range acceleration is immediate which is very good for overtaking slower traffic. In slower driving conditions around town the engine is quiet and very flexible. Our fuel economy driving some challenging but relatively traffic-free Spanish roads was 38.3mpg, not very close to the official 65.7mpg Combined Cycle but I would expect longer runs on motorways to see this figure improve to closer to the 50mpg mark. Insurance for this model is Group 27E.

When it came to the 3.0-litre, V6, 300hp turbodiesel with its huge torque output of 700Nm (516lb ft) from 2,000rpm this engine is only available with the eight-speed automatic transmission but why would you want anything else? It is hugely responsive and made very light work of the severe mountain climbs into the Pyrenees using very narrow winding roads. For the record top speed is 155mph and zero to 62mph takes 6.2-seconds. Officially the Combined Cycle figure is 51.4mpg – our test drive returned 37.8mpg, well below the official figure but only a shade worse than the 2.0-litre Ingenium engine and the test driving was done on a more challenging route. The big V6’s 144g/km of CO2 are not that off-putting either with road tax charges of £145 a year but business users will pay 26% Benefit-in-Kind tax. For those owners/drivers that cover long journeys who want effortless cruising performance this engine meets those needs very easily but the £10k price hike over the top spec 2.0-litre, 180hp turbodiesel will be financially off-putting. Insurance is Group 42E.

Moving swiftly on to the 3.0-litre V6 supercharged petrol 380hp engine this has 450Nm (332lb ft) of torque at 4,500rpm and is mated with the eight-speed automatic gearbox. Top speed is restricted to 155mph and zero to 62mph takes 5.3-seconds. The official fuel economy is 34mpg and no figure was taken on our circuit testing. The CO2 emissions are a relatively high 198g/km so road tax is £490 for the First Year rate reducing to £265 thereafter. Company car executives will pay 34% Benefit-in-Kind tax. In its latest Euro6 form Jaguar says this unit shows a 14% improvement in fuel economy and CO2 emissions over the previous version. Yes this engine for high performance petrol engine enthusiasts will appeal, it’s fast, it’s gutsy, it thrives on engine-revs and sounds great. Costing close to £50k it doesn’t sound so sweet though. Insurance is rated as Group 38E.

In terms of ride comfort and handling the XF offers fast and precise change of direction handling for such a large car. The steering is well weighted with good feedback to the driver. The ride is generally on the comfortable side but ripples in the tarmac and potholes can unsettle the overall calmness the XF offers and it was much the same with the smaller XE.

In most ways the new XF is a larger cloned version of the slightly smaller and less expensive XE. It will be important for both model ranges to attract conquest customers to the Jaguar brand rather than the XE and XF to take customers from each other with few incremental sales. The German brands manage it – so should Jaguar.

MILESTONES: Jaguar XF 2.0d 180hp R-Sport automatic 4-door executive saloon, (likely best selling version). Price: £36,850. Engine/transmission: Ingenium, 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder 180hp turbodiesel with 430Nm of torque from 1,750rpm, 8-speed auto. Performance: 136mph, 0-62mph 8.1-seconds, Combined Cycle 65.7mpg (38.3mpg on test), CO2 114g/km, VED road tax £0/£30, BIK company car tax 20%. Insurance group: 27E. Warranty: 3-years/unlimited mileage. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,954mm, W 1,880mm, H 1,457mm, boot 540-litres. For: Strong and responsive new Jaguar engine, CO2 efficient so its tax friendly, agile, executive class ride comfort, high specification, more spacious interior, great visual kerb-appeal. Against: The Spartan design of the fascia will not appeal to all potential customers as it looks less executive class and more business-user class, some road noise intrusion, the slightly smaller new XE looks very similar – it has the same 2.0-litre diesel engine options and it’s cheaper to buy/lease.  Miles Better News agency 

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