Road tests

New Jaguar XF P250 2021 review

Is the Jaguar XF P250 the last hurrah for a petrol-engined Jag executive car?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Jaguar has focused on the right areas to improve this generation of the XF. It still looks fantastic and drives brilliantly, but is now fitted with the kind of interior technology that puts it on par with its German rivals. A slimmed-down model line-up and affordable pricing make it all the more appealing. If you’re after a good petrol-powered modern Jag before the brand goes all-electric, then the updated XF P250 is good choice.

The XF has long been a handsome, practical and brilliant-to-drive executive saloon, yet despite its obvious appeal, the Jaguar has never managed to make the same kind of sales impact as its rivals from BMW, Mercedes and Audi.

It’s likely to have angered and puzzled Jaguar bosses for years, so with the firm poised to embark on a bold new strategy from 2025, Jag has given the saloon what’s likely to be its final facelift before the brand embarks on its all-electric future.

From the outside at least, there’s little to distinguish this fresh XF from the outgoing model. New J-shaped LED headlights have been added, while the bumpers have been reprofiled. However, it wasn’t the exterior that needed work – this is still one of the best-looking saloons on the market. Where Jaguar has focused its attention instead is on the cabin and the tech that fills it.

Open the door and the XF really does look like a new car inside. The dashboard and the infotainment screen have been completely redesigned, along with the steering wheel and centre console.

The most welcome change is the new 11.4-inch Pivi Pro infotainment system. It not only looks great, curving with the shape of the dashboard, but it also works very well – not something you could say about the XF’s old system. The graphics on the display are sharp, the menu is simple but classy, and it responds very quickly to your inputs. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both compatible with the system, too.

R-Dynamic SE trim is also pretty well equipped, with climate control, a heated windscreen, 3D surround camera, keyless entry, heated and electrically adjustable seats, cruise control and a raft of safety kit. But it’s a bit disappointing that a wireless smartphone charging pad is a £300 option.

A few other gripes remain; the build quality is questionable, especially around the centre console, while some of the materials look and feel cheap. The Jag’s German rivals still set the benchmark here.

Thankfully, the XF remains a brilliant car to drive. This P250 is powered by a 247bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol unit, paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox that drives the rear wheels. The engine feels punchy enough thanks to 365Nm of torque, and that power is delivered smoothly right the way up to the car’s 6,500rpm limit.

It’s not the nicest-sounding engine, though, with a fairly droney character at low revs, while it’s far from efficient either. Jag claims you’ll see economy in the mid-30s, but we didn’t see anything better than 24mpg on test. A more frugal and torque-rich diesel engine has always been a better match for this sort of executive saloon – and that remains the case here.

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The chassis and steering are the XF’s strongest assets; the steering has a lovely weight and is connected to a really responsive front end. It means that every input you make is transmitted clearly to the front wheels, making the XF a properly engaging car to drive and much more entertaining than an A6 or an E-Class.

Body control is also very good. The XF is rarely upset by imperfections or bumps in the road at speed; the damping rounds them off nicely, keeping the Jag composed and stable on the move. 

It makes for a great motorway cruiser, too. Refinement is strong, wind and tyre noise is well suppressed, and the ride is soft enough even on the XF’s relatively large 19-inch wheels. The eight-speed automatic transmission shuffles through its gears smoothly enough, too, although it’s best left to its own devices, because it can be a little slow to respond when using the paddles.

While the Jaguar is more entertaining to drive than its direct rivals from Audi and Mercedes, it’s not quite as practical. The XF offers only 459 litres of luggage capacity, which doesn’t compare well with its larger competitors –although you can get a set of golf clubs in the back easily enough.

Legroom in the rear seats still isn’t a match for the best in the executive saloon class either, but the drawbacks here aren’t quite as apparent because the XF still offers enough space and plenty of comfort.

Although the brand is turning to full electrification in a few years and the strategy means sales of its combustion-engined cars towards that point might be slow, the XF is an engaging example of a petrol-powered Jag.

Model: Jaguar XF P250 RWD R-Dynamic SE
Price: £37,835
Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl petrol
Power/torque: 247bhp/365Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive 
0-60mph: 6.5 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Economy: 35.2mpg
CO2: 181g/km
On sale: Now

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