Driving the 2018MY Jaguars


Another Americanism creeping into the British automotive lexicon is the roll-out of model-year cars before the previous year is even half-way through. It's May 2017 so it's time for the 2018 models, right? Er, of course. Walk into a Jaguar dealer from now and the XE, XF and F-Pace you'll be ordering will be an 18MY machine. Why not stock up for Christmas while you're at it?

Not that we should be grumbling. The F-Pace, recently made World Car of the Year, is doing storming business, but the older XE and XF haven't wowed us in quite the same way - they're great driver's cars, but not the all-rounders that BMWs or Mercs are. Any honing has to be a good thing. Thus, with the 18MY cars, Jaguar is hoping to tick off the demerits in the road test reviews, one by one.



XE S (380hp)
First up is a £48K halo car. An XE with a V6 engine wasn't enough for Jaguar. Now it's put the F-Type S V6 engine in there: all 380hp and an F-Type-matching 0-62mph in 5.0sec of it. Basically ballpark Audi S4 stuff - but this is a much more appealing engine to use. Mainly because it's so old-school.


The lush noise is all flutey parps at low revs and howl at high revs - not aggressive or fake, just vocal and prominent. It'll need a back-to-back drive to feel the extra performance over before; rest assured though, it's a mechanical delight. As are the impeccable steering weight, the beautiful brake-pedal feel, adaptive suspension that breathes and feels almost too soft in normal mode, but perfect on British roads in Sport. It's the antithesis to stolid alternatives, a pure and thoroughbred performance saloon that's perfectly happy to remind you it's rear-drive with a hint of a playful on-throttle wiggle even in everyday driving with the ESC on.

It's still not perfect, though. Rear space isn't as bad as some would have you believe, but it's only average. The seats aren't a patch on an Audi S Line, and infotainment is better but still not BMW-intuitive. Most damningly, the plain-looking interior's finish remains like a late-prototype version of the final car: almost there, but with some glaring oversights. No premium car should have lower plastics this Austin Rover-like, and the subtle detailing of the XF is absent. What price a new dash for the 19MY car, Jaguar?

JAGUAR XE S
Engine:
2,995cc, supercharged V6
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 380@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 331@3,500-5,000rpm
0-62mph: 5.0secs
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 1,635kg (kerb weight)
MPG: 34.0 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 194g/km
Price: £48,045



F-Pace 2.0T 250At last, JLR Wolverhampton is making petrol engines. We're excited about the upcoming 300hp 2.0-litre F-Type, and the 250hp F-Pace is our first taste of it. Panic over: it revs through very smoothly, with little four-pot wheeze - if anything, it gets sweeter above 4,000rpm. Linear acceleration doesn't give you a diesel-like punch in the mid-range, but it's both less rumbly at lower revs and surprisingly vibe-free at high revs. It's a well-balanced engine with a mechanical feel, in contrast to the inert and lifeless Ford 2.0-litre unit JLR used to use.


With the F-Type in mind, it's nice to discover how linear and driveable this engine is on and off boost: it's a crisp turbo installation. It works well with the eight-speed auto that's the sole option on the two-seater - no boost drop-off between gearchanges here - and is swift enough (0-62mph in 6.8sec) without feeling aggressive or frenetic. Hopes are high, even if, for the vast majority, the likeable and fully-formed F-Pace may remain the default choice. Nothing during this 18MY drive changed our opinion that it's the best car Jaguar currently makes. Indeed, this is now even better balanced than earlier models; it's 100kg lighter and this is mainly taken from the front end, enhancing purity and lessening any nose-heavy traits. Only the badge on the back irks: 2.5t, Jaguar? Really?

JAGUAR F-PACE 2.5T 250 R-SPORT
Engine:
1,997cc, 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 250@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 269@1,200-4,500rpm
0-62mph: 6.8secs
Top speed: 135mph
Weight: 1,760kg (kerb weight)
MPG: 38.2 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 170g/km
Price: £44,460



XF 2.0d 240
Hooray, a new diesel engine for the under-the-radar XF: one with twin turbos and 240hp. This makes it as fast to 62mph as a Ford Focus ST petrol, yet it averages 53.3mpg and emits 139g/km CO2 (choose AWD instead of RWD for £1,800 and economy drops only slightly, to 51.4mpg). New blind-spot assist will help XF drivers on their second home, the motorway, and a gesture-control tailgate will make them look like an idiot in the office car park.

The Ingenium diesel keeps on improving. On the go, it's far more refined than early iterations, perhaps damped further by doubling the turbos. It's Germanically strong in surging response and authoritativeness, and the responsive chassis is as luxurious as an XJ (maybe even more so these days). Alas, damn it, the engine still vibrates and clatters at idle. OK, stop-start means you often escape this, but once you notice the pulsing feel and gravelly noise as you roll up to junctions, you'll never escape it. Jaguar NVH guys, you need to fix this: your rivals do it better.

JAGUAR XF 2.0D 240 R-SPORT
Engine:
1,999cc, four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 240@N/Arpm
Torque (lb ft): 368@N/Arpm
0-62mph: 6.5secs
Top speed: 153mph
Weight: 1,740kg (kerb weight)
MPG: 51.4 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 144g/km
Price: £41,900



XJR
The elephant in the room is the elephantine Jaguar XJR in the corner; it was too long to park in the regular spaces at the launch event. As gloriously old-school Jaguar as a packet of Silk Cut and a torn-up Coral betting slip, it's a modern classic compared to all this fancy new stuff. Jaguar surely can't replace it with more of the same, as it's so laughably off the pace of a Merc S-Class. What it might pull off, though, is enhancing what this car does so well.


Which is, essentially, go so ridiculously fast. Like a Tesla Model S, flooring it for the first time leaves you wide-eyed at how this big beast is instantly rocketing up the road - the wonderful-sounding 550hp supercharged V8 boasts eye-popping immediacy that very quickly has you wishing it weren't quite so hefty and dynamically aged. Forget about carrying passengers if you're in the mood for a blast: hustling this on back roads is roll-your-sleeves-up time, a good old-fashioned fight between mass and monstrous muscle.

Just imagine if Jaguar built upon this fast, driver-first nature with a four-door coupe replacement as elegant as the original 1968 XJ, maybe with a Tesla-aceing electric drivetrain from the i-Pace and a modern chassis to whip a Porsche Panamera into shape. What a £100K diametrically-opposed alternative to a Range Rover that could be.

JAGUAR XJR
Engine:
5,000cc, supercharged V8
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear wheel drive
Power (hp): 550@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 501@4,500rpm
0-62mph: 4.6secs
Top speed: 174mph
Weight: 1,875kg (kerb weight)
MPG: 25.5 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 264g/km
Price: £91,755

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Comments (81) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Limpet 10 May 2017

    I've never understood why they didn't put the V6 diesel in the XE and give us a decent 330d/335d alternative. The 240 bhp Ingenium four seems to more than deliver the numbers, but four cylinder diesels always cheapen the feel of cars like this. I've had a couple of 320d s and have zero complaints about what they do, but adding two cylinders to a diesel transforms the feel and smoothness of the thing. A 330d is a MUCH nicer car to drive than a 320d, without even considering the performance difference.

  • 300bhp/ton 10 May 2017



    They really all do look the same... Just the bigger they are the bigger the price tag is frown


    Sadly, I find I have no interest, passion or desire for any of their ugly car range these days. Bring back the Jaguar of old please.

  • kambites 10 May 2017

    They may not have the elegance of the older Jags, but they're still at least the best looking cars intheir respective classes to my eye.

  • lukeharding 10 May 2017

    Limpet said:
    I've never understood why they didn't put the V6 diesel in the XE and give us a decent 330d/335d alternative. The 240 bhp Ingenium four seems to more than deliver the numbers, but four cylinder diesels always cheapen the feel of cars like this. I've had a couple of 320d s and have zero complaints about what they do, but adding two cylinders to a diesel transforms the feel and smoothness of the thing. A 330d is a MUCH nicer car to drive than a 320d, without even considering the performance difference.
    I'm sure there was even talk that they were able to fit the V8 in the XE but nothing ever came of it. I'm not surprised but that would have been a mega car. If they did put the V6 diesel in the XE there would be no reason to buy the XF at a higher price point would there?

  • 300bhp/ton 10 May 2017

    kambites said:
    They may not have the elegance of the older Jags, but they're still at least the best looking cars intheir respective classes to my eye.
    I wouldn't mind so much if they didn't try so hard to make all of their cars look so similar. Never understood that at all. Telling an XF from an XE while driving past one is pretty hard.

    Seems Land Rover and Aston Martin also use this moronic concept in their design language too. Both brands I used to love and both I find little interest in their current/recent offerings.

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