The completely new XF has evolved in all the right ways. Lighter - for improved dynamics - and with an exciting development of the original XF's styling, it has elegance and poise. Add a sensible range of engines and common-sense starting price and it is set up to win both hearts and minds.
- Dynamic, involving ride
- Attractively evolved styling
- Great eight-speed auto gearbox
- Visually, a little too similar to XE
- (Optional) head-up display is poor resolution
- Although sensibly priced, options soon lift the cost
Back in 2007, designer Ian Callum painted a new face on our Jaguars. It was a little challenging to begin with but the appeal of the new design grew quickly and is now much respected and appreciated. While that bold step pulled Jaguar into the 21st Century, it hasn't stopped the marque evolving and now we have an all-new XF.
To the uninitiated, the new XF might not appear entirely dissimilar to the old one but it most certainly is. A little shorter than the outgoing model, its wheelbase is actually longer which adds leg room in the rear and also improves ride and changes the car's stance by pushing the wheels out to the corners.
The new car is sleeker, with a lowered shoulder line to deliver a more slender profile. The rear is a little more angular and the boot lid is drawn up into a more defined spoiler; up front, the grill has broadened and the light clusters have become more serious-looking. It is most definitely a handsome car but perhaps the most important changes have taken place beneath the skin: with greater use of aluminium, the new XF is lighter, benefitting performance, handling and economy.
On test we have the striking R-Sport trim level, sitting low over its 19-inch wheels on sports suspension. Neat badging and a subtle body kit complete the R-Sport's look. While certainly taut, it remains supple and inspires confidence behind the wheel. Add the comfortable and supportive seats and the delightful forward view over the gently humped bonnet and this XF really does feel like a sporting saloon. The driving dynamics give the feeling of a car moulded around the driver: a true delight.
The swivelling outer air vents on the facia and rising rotary gear selector on start-up will be familiar to any XF driver but the tech has moved on and the neat touch screen is responsive and intuitive. Dashboard design is fairly conventional but well executed. Only the slightly low resolution head-up display (an option) let the side down.
On test we have the new two-litre Ingenium diesel in its more powerful 180 PS guise (it is also available with 163 PS). While the car can certainly handle the punchier V6 diesel and petrol options, it isn't unpleasant and with even power delivery across the rev range and a slightly tuned exhaust, it is both pleasing and efficient. Performance isn't bad either with 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds (the 163 PS still comes in under nine seconds). The eight-speed gearbox is also one of the best in this sector, being responsive and smooth.
For all its styling similarities to the new XE model, the XF does feel a step up. While our test car approached nearly £50,000 with all its options, the range starts at a sensible £32,300 for an extremely attractive and accomplished car. It is a fresh and dynamic alternative to its German rivals.
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