Jaguar XF review
The Jaguar XF is a brilliant and stylish sporty saloon that's great to drive, comfortable and luxurious
If you want your executive saloon to turn heads, look no further than the Jaguar XF. This classy saloon mixes sleek looks with a club class interior and composed driving dynamics. Better still, the entry-level 2.2-litre diesel has recently benefited from a cut in CO2 emissions, making it an even more desirable company car.
The new 2.2 diesel is the pick of the line-up, while the 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol is tempting if you have pockets deep enough to run it. There's lots of standard equipment and luxury throughout the range, even if rear space is a little tight. The XF is also offered as an estate in the form of the talented XF Sportbrake, which is versatile, comfortable and carries the same sense of occasion that makes the saloon model so appealing. While at the top of the range sits the storming Jaguar XFR and its ferocious 510bhp 5.0-litre supercharged V8. For all the Jaguar XF’s strengths, though, the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 beat it on interior quality. And the 5-Series offers lower running costs.
Our choice: XF 2.2 Diesel Luxury
Jaguar's last executive saloon, the S-Type, had retro looks, but the Jaguar XF is very modern indeed. It’s a great looking car, with a sweeping roofline and a bold grille at the front, and manages to be much more emotional than its cold, clinical Audi A6 and BMW5 Series rivals. A facelift in 2011 freshened the XF’s looks, and the car stands out with its sleek profile and perfect proportions. The Jag feels equally special inside, with lots of soft leather and wood trim. Neat touches include cool ambient lighting and the rotary gearshifter that glides up out of the centre console. Sadly, the rest of the cabin is starting to show its age. Everything from the small dials to the clunky touchscreen infotainment system reminds you the Jag is getting on a bit.
As you’d expect from a Jaguar, the XF feels poised and agile on twisty country roads. The steering is quick and well weighted, there’s plenty of grip and the standard eight-speed auto responds promptly to the throttle and the steering wheel paddles. What’s more unusual is the firm and fidgety low-speed ride. Still, comfort improves the faster you go, while wind and road noise are well isolated.
There is more road noise than you get in a BMW 5 Series or Mercedes E-Class on the motorway, but the XF munches miles with ease. Plus, although the diesel is a little gruff, the trade-off is performance. The 2.2-litre diesel – which comes in 161bhp and 190bhp guises – isn't quite as punchy as the 3.0-litre V6 diesel, but it still has loads of torque and is actually surprisingly rapid. The 190bhp version will do 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds. It’s definitely the pick of the line-up, being smooth and quiet. The new 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol is even smoother, while the XFR's supercharged 5.0-litre V8 is extremely rapid and makes a lovely noise. All cars come with a smooth eight-speed auto as standard.
Jaguar was a star performer in our Driver Power 2013 satisfaction survey, finishing a superb third in the manufacturers chart. The XF achieved the same placing in the overall table. Yet while the car gets six airbags, stability control and active head restraints as standard, it only got a four-star score in Euro NCAP crash tests. Blind spot monitoring is £460 extra, while adaptive cruise control is another £1,275.
All Jaguar XF models get electrical adjustment for the seats and steering wheel, so it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position. However, while there’s lots of wood, leather and metal surfaces, some materials feel a bit cheap and it’s sometimes hard to access the correct buttons on the touchscreen. Rear visibility isn’t great either thanks to the big cat's dimensions. Jump in the back, and if you’re over six-foot tall, you’ll notice you don’t have a lot of headroom. That’s down to the sloping coupe-style roofline, which robs some space from passengers. However, most people will be fine, even though the wide transmission tunnel means there’s only really space for two in the back. As for the boot, it’s deep and, at 540 litres, large enough for a set of suitcases. You can also fold the rear seats down for longer items, extending this to over 900 litres.
By fitting new stop-start hardware and tweaking components in the engine’s cooling and exhaust gas recirculation systems, engineers have cut CO2 emissions from 135g/km to 129g/km and economy is up to 57.7mpg. As a result, the Jag has similar company car tax costs as the SE versions of the BMW 520d and Mercedes E220. It's exempt from road tax for the first year of ownership, with an annual bill of £105 thereafter. It also keeps BIK rates to a low 19 per cent – and puts the XF on a par with the Audi A6 2.0 TDI.
The 190bhp variant of the 2.2 diesel returns 52.3mpg and emits 149g/km of CO2 – compare that to the 44.8mpg and 169g/km of the V6 diesel and the 30.0mpg and 224g/km of the V6 petrol to see how much of a difference the small but gutsy engine makes. As for running costs, don’t expect servicing or insurance to be cheap, owner satisfaction is amongst the best - the XF finished third in our 2013 Driver Power survey. Equipment is good, all models sport climate control and Xenon headlights, cruise control and sat-nav as standard. And the price isn’t bad either – the range starts from just under £30,000. Jaguar generally offers a range of finance deals on XF models, too, so check its website for the latest hire purchase and lease promotions.