Jaguar XF | Auto Express

14 Jul 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Jaguar XF | Auto Express
Jaguar XF

Verdict

You’ve seen the spy shots, read the news stories and now the year’s most awaited car has finally come into our hands and hit the road. We went to Phoenix in Arizona to drive it and deliver the most eagerly anticipated verdict of the year.

This new Coventry Cat is not the sleek, feline shape we are used to. While it uses the old S-Type platform and the suspension from the XK coupe, the XF is a new direction for Jaguar.

Video: watch CarBuyer’s video review of the Jaguar XF

Short body overhangs, sharp creases and a raked, sporty roof give the executive saloon a lot of quick-glance appeal, but some of the detailing is less attractive. The rear of the car is good looking, but the front, particularly the gaping grille is not. You need to select your body colour carefully as in silver grey it isn’t pretty; darker colours, particularly British Racing Green, are much better.

If the exterior is contentious, the interior is lovely. Designers have lowered the height of the dashboard and reduced the seats’ bulk to create an impression of space and air. Wood and dotted aluminium-alloy sweeps attractively across the facia and then there are the toys, like the rotary gear selector, which rises out of the centre console and the starter button which flashes and pulses when you climb into the car.

Standard equipment includes cruise control, climate-control, heated seats and satellite navigation.

Accommodation is generous up front, with lots of useful storage space and comfortable and supportive seats. There’s less space in the back, although six-footers have space between their head and the roof and their knees and the front seat backs. The 500-litre boot is enormous and the rear seats fold 60/40 to allow for long loads.

Safety starts with the high-strength steel body frame and there are two-stage driver and passenger airbags, together with side and curtain bags, anti-whiplash head restraints and belt pretensioners. The XF uses Jaguar’s dynamic stability control and the anti-lock brakes have a new pre-priming system which prepares the car for an emergency stop if you lift off the throttle quickly.

The XF goes on sale on March 1 and the model line up will consist of two 4.2-litre V8 models with and without a supercharger, which will occupy between them less than five per cent of British sales. There will be a 3.0-litre V6 available from £33,900 and a 2.7-litre V6 turbodiesel for £33,900.

Jaguar XF

The top model has the same charismatic, supercharged V8 as the XK coupe. With 410bhp and loads of torque, it makes the 1.9-tonne XF blisteringly quick. Standing start acceleration is only restricted by the grip of the tyres and if you keep your foot down, the charge only slows perceptibly well into motorway speeds.

Top speed is limited to 155mph and the Jag gets there terrifyingly quickly, never feeling strained or short on power. From inside the engine noise is muted, from outside, however, this top cat roars like someone just stood on its paw.

The ZF six-speed gearbox blurs the line between a manual and an automatic. Changes are sharp, and the steering-wheel paddles twirl with the wheel rim to ease gear selection. In sports mode the gearbox will even rev between each down shift.

On a twisting, desert route, the XF really showed off its classy chassis. The body control is superb coping with anything the road throws at it, but with a great ride as well. The steering is not quite as razor sharp as some German rivals, but it’s well weighted and accurate, allowing you to easily place the car in bends.

The turn in is sharp and while the nose eventually slides wide, it is well controlled.

On one-inch smaller wheels and tyres, the naturally-aspirated car has a slightly better ride and handling balance, which bodes well for the forthcoming diesel model.

Rival: BMW 550i M Sport

At this end of the price range most buyers prefer the image of a big German saloon. The 5-Series is handsome and well made, with a hi-tech engine, but the cabin is beginning to show its age.

Jaguar XF
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