Jaguar XF TDV6 S: Driven

Replacing the XF was always going to be a tough task. The first car was such a radical departure for Jaguar in terms of design and image that the second generation was inevitably going to be more difficult than normal. Think of the Ford Focus as a comparison. Jaguar doesn't need reinventing again, but the XF must be sufficiently improved to appear a worthwhile replacement.

Natty 20-inch wheels a £1,200 option
Natty 20-inch wheels a £1,200 option
Initial impressions from Spain were very positive, so this Glacier White V6 diesel S was eagerly anticipated at PHHQ. Though we don't often have diesel executive saloons in for test, the price did come as something of a shock; with options including the head-up display, 20-inch wheels and 'Advanced Parking Assist Pack', OV65 NKS is a £58,000 car, up from £49,945 as standard. But then a BMW 535d M Sport is £49,070, and an A6 BiTDI S Line £48,990, so it's hardly overpriced compared to key rivals.

To these eyes the XE-aping design actually suits the XF better, particularly here with those 20-inch wheels. And yes, it was definitely cleaned before going back to Jaguar. The interior is largely a success too, with a superb driving position, great wheel and clear instruments. Oddly the instruments are better to look at than the rather outdated head up display.

Sadly there's another noticeable probelm inside. Though much has been made of the new InControl Touch infotainment system, it still can't quite match the best for graphics, responsiveness and intuitiveness. It works well, but as a user experience it lags a little behind those systems in its rivals.

Oh look, a round steering wheel (!)
Oh look, a round steering wheel (!)
That being said, the XF has more than enough talents on the road to make up for those shortfalls. As we've come to expect from Jaguar, the dynamics are so finely resolved that it makes you wonder why others can't match it. At any speed, its combination of damping, steering response and control weight are all absolutely spot on, the compromise it strikes between executive saloon comfort and sports saloon composure perfectly judged.

This all with the powertrain and chassis set to normal, the XF's ability to coast down the motorway, absorb the worst urban imperfections and reward on B-roads rendering the other setting rather superfluous. It's a genuinely entertaining car to drive fast too, steering as well as any other EPAS-equipped car and with a 50:50 weight balance that gives it great poise and control. Its ride and handling bode exceptionally well for an XF SVR; with a gearbox made slightly sharper and that stonking supercharged V8, it could be fantastic.

Back on the M40 and the diesel XF is supreme actually, all noise very well suppressed and the 516lb ft providing effortless speed. It's extremely comfortable and very relaxing, still in the 'normal' mode that proved so entertaining in the B-roads. It seems a shame that buyers apparently demand endless configurability when one mode so well suits every situation. The news is less positive from the back though, where a few complaints could be heard of excess tyre and road noise.

Like an XE, but bigger. And possibly better
Like an XE, but bigger. And possibly better
Overall though the XF is an extremely desirable car, particularly for people like us. If there's one place where minor tech gripes can be overlooked for driving dynamics it's PH, right? Perhaps the biggest problem faced by the XF at the moment is an issue of spec though. The smooth, powerful 3.0-litre V6 diesel is only offered as an 'S' model, which means that the cheapest V6 diesel XF, indeed the only V6 diesel XF, is £50K. The 180hp four-cylinder cars are not only 120hp down but are at least £14,000 less as well. This XF S is a glorious executive saloon, but it sometimes seems a bit much. The market for £50,000, 300hp diesel saloons must be fairly small, however impressive the cars and content the owners. Something at a 530d level, at about 50hp and £10,000 less, would not only be the XF of choice but probably the executive saloon to have too; it's tremendous.

: 2,993cc, V6 diesel
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 300@4,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 516@2,000rpm
0-62mph: 6.2secs
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 1,750kg
MPG: 51.4 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 144g/km
Price: £58,355 (Base of £49,945 with £675 for Glacier White metallic paint, £1,200 for 20-inch Venom Twin 5-spoke Gloss Black wheels, £450 for Memory pack with powerfold mirrors, £1,620 for Advanced Parking Assist Pack with Surround camera, £1,000 cabin pre-heat with timer and remote, £300 for Steering column electric adjustment, £1,220 for Laser Head-up display, £510 for cold climate pack, £300 for Alloy space saver spare wheel, £485 for soft door close and £650 for the Black Pack)

Images: Dafydd Wood

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Comments (103) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Cotic 19 Jan 2016

    Expensive, yes - but there's £4k worth of options there which I could easily do without.

    Agree that there should be a lower trim level though; an R-Sport with the same engine would be fine.

  • Zod 19 Jan 2016

    That's just a facelift isn't it, not a new car?

  • moffat 19 Jan 2016

    A new engine that is still behind both BMW's old 3l TT engine and Audi's 3 litre biturbo lump.

    Sat Nav looks last generation too.

  • luckystrike 19 Jan 2016

    Zod said:
    That's just a facelift isn't it, not a new car?
    It's a new car. Old car was based on the same steel platform as the S-type, this is off the new aluminium platform like the XE.

  • unpc 19 Jan 2016

    Zod said:
    That's just a facelift isn't it, not a new car?
    No it's all new. Doesn't look a lot different though but that never hurt Audi.

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