Jaguar XF S: Driven

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?

: 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)









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Comments (87) Join the discussion on the forum

  • sidesauce 10 Aug 2017

    That colour is stunning.

  • 2 GKC 10 Aug 2017

    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 10 Aug 2017

    Are the objections to the interior objective, or just that it doesn't look German?

  • Krikkit 10 Aug 2017

    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 10 Aug 2017

    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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