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RE: Jaguar XF S: Driven

Thursday 10th August

Jaguar XF S: Driven

Nobody really buys large petrol saloons anymore; here's a very good reason why they should



Looks good, doesn't it? There's nothing especially new or radical or out of the ordinary with this Jaguar XF, but it is quite hard to avoid talking initially about the car's styling. It shows how wheel and colour choice can really help a car, and also that a well-proportioned four-door saloon can still be really stylish when four-door saloons seem very much out of favour.

Caesium Blue is £705; worth every penny
Caesium Blue is £705; worth every penny
That was the main reason for testing this particular XF actually; not the way that it looks, but for the fact that cars of its ilk aren't exactly trendy with the buying public. More's the pity, really, because big saloons with big(ish) petrol engines have - and hopefully always will have - considerable appeal. Where once there were cars like BMW 545is, 4.2-litre Audi A6s and E500 Mercedes beneath their sporty flagships, now the focus seems to be on 'junior' performance models - see M Performance, the '43 AMG models and so on.

This Jaguar proves that a traditional, more relaxed approach to a big saloon is still of worth. 'Traditional' has unfortunate connotations in 2017, but it sums up all that is good (and some that is bad) about the XF. From the way it looks to the way it drives and the way people respond to it, there's something endearingly classic with this Jaguar. Perhaps that's not entirely on message for Jag right now though, as mentioned, just being a very good, relatively simple, fast, luxurious saloon is nothing to be ashamed of.

It makes 380hp from a supercharged V6; not a huge amount, nothing outrageous, simply an engine that has all the performance (plus a little bit more) that you'll ever need. It makes a good noise, it's responsive and it works (mostly) very well with the eight-speed auto.

Wheels optional too, but aren't they nice?
Wheels optional too, but aren't they nice?
And it remains a lovely, lovely car to drive in a refreshingly uncomplicated way. It has driving modes, naturally, because driving modes are apparently now as essential as wheels, but there's no need to venture beyond the normal one. There's comfort, flow and poise to the Jaguar's dynamics, traits that are as relevant now that as they always have been, the car's balance between suppleness and support absolutely spot on. It's precise without being nervy and refined without ever being aloof, a great contribution of attributes that perfectly matches its remit. If you could drive blindfolded - not recommended, of course - you would say it's a Jag. It just drives how you would want a large Jaguar to drive, and that's meant entirely as a compliment.

Make use of that 380hp and the XF is more than willing to accommodate, grip good and composure very nice. As an 'S' rather than a full-blown performance model it's not a car for right on the limit but, again, it feels perfectly judged for its role. Tinker with those modes away from normal and you'll find subtle adjustments to throttle response and steering weight, though they really do feel more superfluous here than they do anywhere else.

Some options in here too, but it's less appealing
Some options in here too, but it's less appealing
The XF cruises nicely, mooches around town nicely and scampers down a B-road nicely. It's simply - in case you hadn't guessed - a very nice car to drive, regardless of situation, and still perhaps the best in its class for that.

The problem? As an executive car, not simply as a driver's car, the XF has pitfalls. When competing against cars as complete as the new BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class you must bring your A game, and there are areas where the XF falls down. The displays don't have the clarity they do in the German cars, the technology we now expect in large saloons - lane departure, emergency braking, that sort of thing - works more erratically and the interior simply isn't as good as those cars. Their technology is not only better from a usability perspective, it's incorporated into more stylish surroundings. And when you're not admiring what a dream your Jaguar is to drive, these issues start to matter.

Thing is Jaguar does seem to be making swifter progress these days, so there is hope that the next facelift will bring another jump forward. And a better touchscreen. However there are still fiddly buttons, a couple of iffy plastics and ambience not entirely befitting of a car that, in this spec, is £65,000. It's good, though it should probably be better.

Not groundbreaking; does it need to be?
Not groundbreaking; does it need to be?
The XF remains a deeply likeable car, particularly in this configuration, and broadly competitive in a challenging sector. While powerful, fairly thirsty petrol engines aren't hugely in demand at present, one drive in this XF will remind you what a joy they are. And while a BMW 540i may do similarly, it's only available as an xDrive model; same with the Mercedes E400. Sometimes cars do need to change, but sometimes they don't; while it may sound like damning with faint praise, that the Jaguar feels a more traditionally luxurious offering is perhaps the strongest asset it has. Now when's that V8 coming?


JAGUAR XF S
Engine
: 2,995cc, V6 supercharged
Transmission: 8-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 380@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 332@4,500rpm
0-62mph: 5.3sec
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 1,710kg
MPG: 34 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 198g/km
Price: £51,100 (As tested £65,125 comprised of £705 for Caesium Blue paint, £395 for Privacy glass, £1,275 for LED headlights with DTR lights, £990 for sliding panoramic roof, £1,255 for 20-inch 5 split-spoke with diamond turned finish wheels, £2,140 for Navigation Pro pack with Meridian sound system, £505 for soft door close, £320 for illuminated metal tread plates with Jaguar script, £540 for secure tracker, £890 for Digital TV, £615 for 10.2-inch Dual View touchscreen, £525 for Blind spot monitor and reverse traffic monitor, £1690 for advanced parking assist pack with surround camera, £540 for cold climate pack, £1,270 for Head-up display pack and £665 for power gestured boot lid)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

sidesauce

Original Poster:

567 posts

138 months

Thursday 10th August
quotequote all
That colour is stunning.

2 GKC

282 posts

25 months

Thursday 10th August
quotequote all
These Jag interiors continue to fall short. Steering wheel is ghastly. Indicator stalks look low rent. And sort the infotainment out; it's a key element of a modern car and they have been criticised for years in Jaguar products.

otolith

33,830 posts

124 months

Thursday 10th August
quotequote all
Are the objections to the interior objective, or just that it doesn't look German?

Krikkit

10,361 posts

101 months

Thursday 10th August
quotequote all
2 GKC said:
These Jag interiors continue to fall short. Steering wheel is ghastly. Indicator stalks look low rent. And sort the infotainment out; it's a key element of a modern car and they have been criticised for years in Jaguar products.
The new infotainment system might not be quite up to the standards of the Germans (who sink hundreds of millions of euros into these systems alone), but I would counter that there's nothing missing from or clumsy about the current-gen in the Jags (once upgraded to the faster system).

It does phone mirroring, has apps etc, clear and precise sat-nav which works quickly, over-the-air updates via WiFi at home, mobile data through either its own SIM or bluetooth, all the bells and whistles that you could really need.

The graphics might not get continually washed through multi-£m redesigns, but it does work well and look good.

dme123

3,487 posts

109 months

Thursday 10th August
quotequote all
I want to like these. I personally don't give a st about the infotainment stuff so long as I can pair with bluetooth, the actual audio quality is excellent, and I can play from USB/iPhone through a cable to it charges at the same time. As such the somewhat noncompetitive toys don't bother me very much at all. What kills it for me is the disappointing design and even more disappointing quality of the interior, and what makes this worse is that this has always been a Jaguar strength. Even the interior colour choices are horrible, it's either black or really wky two tone seats.

I'm currently liking the Volvo S90/V90 but they don't drive nearly as well and the engines options are hopeless. I want the interior from the Volvo with the chassis and powertrain of the Jaguar!
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Matt Bird

862 posts

125 months

PH Reportery Lad

Thursday 10th August
quotequote all
otolith said:
Are the objections to the interior objective, or just that it doesn't look German?
The objection was that in terms of perceived quality, ease of use and the integration of technology, it falls short of the class best. It's good, but other cars in the sector are better.

dme123

3,487 posts

109 months

Thursday 10th August
quotequote all
Matt Bird said:
otolith said:
Are the objections to the interior objective, or just that it doesn't look German?
The objection was that in terms of perceived quality, ease of use and the integration of technology, it falls short of the class best. It's good, but other cars in the sector are better.
I'll also add that the overall design is generic and drab, and the colour schemes available are poor . The seat upholstery design is ugly too. We're not talking about Daewoo levels of horribleness, but not only is it not as nice as the competitors it is also not as nice as the outgoing model.

pmanson

12,022 posts

173 months

Thursday 10th August
quotequote all
dme123 said:
I want to like these. I personally don't give a st about the infotainment stuff so long as I can pair with bluetooth, the actual audio quality is excellent, and I can play from USB/iPhone through a cable to it charges at the same time. As such the somewhat noncompetitive toys don't bother me very much at all. What kills it for me is the disappointing design and even more disappointing quality of the interior, and what makes this worse is that this has always been a Jaguar strength. Even the interior colour choices are horrible, it's either black or really wky two tone seats.

I'm currently liking the Volvo S90/V90 but they don't drive nearly as well and the engines options are hopeless. I want the interior from the Volvo with the chassis and powertrain of the Jaguar!
I've got a 2014 XF S, the interior is a lovely place to be (leather topped dash, vernts that open nicely when the engine switched on etc). The infotainment works and is easy to use (a few times the UX is slightly counter productive eg. switching on the heating/cooling on the seats) but on the whole it's good.

It's the one thing that's putting me off upgrading to the 'new' XF in a couple of years.

otolith

33,830 posts

124 months

Thursday 10th August
quotequote all
Matt Bird said:
The objection was that in terms of perceived quality, ease of use and the integration of technology, it falls short of the class best. It's good, but other cars in the sector are better.
The latter two are fairly objective - what aspects of the perceived quality did you think let it down?

Uncle Ron

87 posts

19 months

Thursday 10th August
quotequote all
£65000 lol

Nickbrapp

1,376 posts

50 months

Thursday 10th August
quotequote all
Shame they forgot to style the back of it.

T8 Volvo s90 please

kellydk

21 posts

79 months

Thursday 10th August
quotequote all
£60K+ seems very steep for a car like this to me but would need to compare prices against other rivals.

What amazes me is this: "It makes 380hp from a supercharged V6; not a huge amount" - Since when are we saying that under 400HP is not enough power? Surely the driving experience is more important than the bragging rights about how much power you have.

Smokey32

204 posts

13 months

Thursday 10th August
quotequote all
So more than a M3 or C63? Its nice but again its overpriced from Jag.

Monty Python

3,826 posts

117 months

Thursday 10th August
quotequote all
it struck me, looking at this car, how much progress has been made - the XF-S only produces 20bhp less than the Ferrari 288 GTO.

kambites

51,514 posts

141 months

Thursday 10th August
quotequote all
Smokey32 said:
So more than a M3 or C63? Its nice but again its overpriced from Jag.
Odd to compare it to cars from a completely different market sector? The XF is 5-series sized.

Still looks quite expensive for that it is, but that's not the right comparison, IMO.

seefarr

421 posts

106 months

Thursday 10th August
quotequote all
dme123 said:
Even the interior colour choices are horrible, it's either black or really wky two tone seats.
I don't know what you're talking about, these are very understated and stylish. whistle


Bencolem

373 posts

159 months

Thursday 10th August
quotequote all
Thought it was an XE until I saw the interior!

Bencolem

373 posts

159 months

Thursday 10th August
quotequote all
Thought it was an XE until I saw the interior!

Dagnut

3,509 posts

113 months

Thursday 10th August
quotequote all
Bencolem said:
Thought it was an XE until I saw the interior!
This is the biggest problem for cars in the sector, I think. The "junior" classes are so competent and refined now it kind of makes the mid class redundant.
I can't see any reason for owning this over the XE, apart wanting a bigger looking car. Dynamically the XE is a far better car, not that far off in terms of interior space,with the same engine and 200kg less it's not hard to guess which is quicker, more efficient....that's before you get to the 18k price difference.
The V8 has appeal as I don't think you will see that in the XE but other wise it's a no brainer for me.

TheTyreAbuser

89 posts

18 months

Thursday 10th August
quotequote all
otolith said:
The latter two are fairly objective - what aspects of the perceived quality did you think let it down?
It is objective, subjective too but he is right, the "perceived" quality is worse in JLR vs the German big 3.

Personally, I do not care but I can see why someone might, when asking a £65k (or whatever it would be per month) question you want a nice feeling answer.

Case in point: My dad has just gone from a 15 plate AMG premium plus C class wagon to a 17 plate HSE Lux Disco sport. On paper, one was £40k with all options, the other was a fiver short of £50k, again, on paper. The difference in material quality, is quite surprising. The economies of scale in the little details is where they win. They can use the same Burmester laser cut metal speaker grilles in their S class as they do in the C class and the person in the C feels that quality. JLR don't have that level of finish. The speaker grilles in on the top end Meridian audio upgrade in the Disco are hard and cheap "feeling" black plastic. The same goes for the metal, solid "feeling" window switches in the Merc, in place of the cheap "feeling" plastic on plastic ones in the LR.

It's all part of the "soft plastics" brigade of "ooh isn't that nice". Most of us don't give a toss. Some people do and for those people, the JLR stuff isn't good enough.