Jaguar XF review - Engines, performance and drive
Smooth performance and slick auto gearboxes define the range – but the 2.0 diesel is a bit noisy
Thanks to its aluminium underpinnings, the XF is relatively light compared to its rivals, which helps the way it rides and handles. The suspension keeps the body tied down nicely during cornering, so there’s plenty of composure – but there’s also lots of comfort on offer, as the XF boasts that typically plush ride quality big Jags have always possessed.
Show the XF a twisty road, and the fast steering means the car is eager to tackle bends. The car turns in sharply and while it can feel over-alert at times, we prefer this responsive nature to sluggish, relaxed steering. AWD versions strike a good balance between keeping the tidy rear-wheel drive feeling to the handling and adding lots of grip for poor conditions.
The S model only comes with the eight-speed auto, while it's also the only version to get Jaguar’s Adaptive Dynamics adjustable suspension as standard. It’s a £720 option on other models, and using the adjustable driving modes means the car’s damping characteristics can be tweaked.
In Dynamic mode the car feels tauter and more alive, responding to direction changes quickly and cornering flatter. But in Comfort the ride quality is good, even on big wheels, and the dampers filter out most lumps and bumps, with only serious road imperfections being felt inside the car.
As many XF buyers will be business users, CO2 emissions are vitally important in this sector – which is why Jaguar opted to go almost exclusively for diesel when it launched the second generation model, although more petrol options became available over time.
Car group tests
- Jaguar XF Sportbrake 3.0 diesel S 2018 review
- New Jaguar XF Sportbrake 2.0 petrol R Sport review
- New Jaguar XF Sportbrake 2017 review
Used car tests
There are three power outputs available in the 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel - 161bhp, 178bhp or the twin-turbocharged 237bhp version. The smaller engines come with a choice of six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearboxes, but we’d stick with Jag’s smooth eight-speed auto.
It makes motorway journeys effortless, while the standard steering wheel-mounted paddles mean there’s a nice element of driver involvement if you want it. We’d go for the 178bhp 2.0-litre Ingenium unit, as the extra 17bhp and 50Nm more torque (making 430Nm in total) mean progress is swifter in this sizeable saloon.
The engine is eager and pulls strongly. The 0-62mph sprint takes 7.9 seconds in the auto, while the lower-powered model completes the same test in 8.6 seconds. However, at higher revs refinement is an issue, as the engine emits a diesel growl in higher revs that the best rivals keep a lid on. Keep to a more subdued cruise and the XF is as quiet as you’d expect.
The flagship 237bhp diesel benefits from a second turbo, meaning a chunky 500Nm of torque and a 0-62mph time that drops to 6.5 seconds. Pulling power is pretty impressive for a motor of this capacity, although the single-turbo models will be fast enough for most needs.
At the top of the range sits the XF S. With a massive 700Nm of torque from the twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 diesel – and a healthy 296bhp – the Jaguar packs some serious overtaking punch.
There are two smooth and efficient turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder options with 248bhp and 296bhp which hit 0-60mph in 6.4 and 5.6 seconds, respectively.
Jaguar did offer a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol in the S, but this is no longer offered as a new model. It manages 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds, making it a proper performance saloon. It uses the same engine as the F-Type sports car, and it snarls as you rev it hard, but it’s hushed on the motorway and gives a great balance between driver involvement and refined cruising ability.
In this review
- 1Jaguar XF reviewJaguar's latest XF is desirable and very good to drive, making it a genuine rival to the German alternatives
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingSmooth performance and slick auto gearboxes define the range – but the 2.0 diesel is a bit noisy
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsNew test procedure hasn't helped the XF's economy or emissions figures
- 4Interior, design and technologyModern design, plenty of tech and extra space make the XF a great place to sit – but material quality could be better in places
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceBig boot, plenty of space and a comfortable ride mean the XF covers many bases
- 6Reliability and SafetyStrong standard safety kit and good Driver Power results, but customers question XF reliability