Jaguar XF Saloon (2015 -) Driving & Performance

Review by Keith Jones on
Last Updated: 09 Dec 2015
4.8
Replacing a car that heralded a fresh, new start for a brand is quite an ominous task but it’s the one facing the second generation Jaguar XF saloon. The latest mid-sized Jaguar saloon is a more careful evolution of the four-door coupe shape, but it’s one that's dramatic and bristling with subtle detailing.

4.5 out of 5

Performance

  • Efficient four-cylinder petrols and diesels
  • More powerful 3.0-litre twin turbo diesel available
  • Best for performance is 3.0-litre supercharged petrol

Performance – and efficiency – for the Jaguar XF range is delivered from a seven-strong line-up of diesel and petrol engines.

Popular selection of diesels

Powering the bulk of Jaguar XF saloons will be the firm’s four-cylinder Ingenium family of diesels, designed to deliver class-leading efficiencies without sacrificing performance.

Entry point to the XF range is the 2.0-litre diesel with 163hp and 380Nm of torque from 1,750rpm, with a choice of standard six-speed manual and optional eight-speed automatic gearboxes.

It’s pleasingly brisk with a top speed of 132mph and a 0-62mph time of 8.7 seconds, regardless of the transmission.

Efficiency is where the transmission type makes a difference: the manual gearbox delivers class-leading figures of a claimed 70.6mpg and CO2 emissions of just 104g/km – one of the best of any non-hybrid car in this segment.

Choose the 180hp version of the engine – badged 20d – and top speed climbs to 136mph while at 8.1 seconds the automatic’s acceleration from standstill to 62mph is a tenth of a second slower than the manual.

While the engine sound isn’t particularly characterful in a sporty sense, it’s a refined smaller-capacity diesel, that feels flexible and linear in its power delivery when fitted with the auto ‘box.

If you need the all-wheel drive traction of the 20d AWD automatic, expect the top speed to remain pegged at 136mph, but the 0-62mph time stretches out to 8.4 seconds.

Called the 25d, the same 2.0-litre engine fitted with two turbos produces 240hp and 500Nm of torque at 1,500rpm. The automatic gearbox is standard but regardless of whether you go for the rear-wheel drive version or the 25d AWD, performance is identical at 153mph with 6.5 seconds required for the 0-62mph.

On paper, those stats render the 30d with its 300hp 3.0-litre V6 twin turbo somewhat redundant. However, this motor’s only available in S trim and only with rear-wheel drive.

The automatic allows easy access to the engine’s colossal 700Nm of torque. Whether from a standstill or already close to motorway speeds, provoking the accelerator unleashes a surge of forward motion, allowing you to dispatch overtaking manoeuvres with ease.

Electronically governed at 155mph, sprinting from 0-62mph takes just 6.4 seconds yet Jaguar claims this XF will average 51.4mpg while CO2 emissions are a surprisingly modest 144g/km.

Trio of petrol alternatives

Jaguar expanded its petrol range in early 2017 with 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged Ingenium units. All are fitted with the eight-speed automatic.

Producing 200hp and 320Nm of torque from 1,200rpm is the 20t. It’s rear-wheel drive only and has a top speed of 146mph, with a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds.

Power of the same basic engine is ramped up to 250hp for the 25t, with torque increased to 365Nm. Rear- and all-wheel drive – 25t AWD – permutations are available, both with 0-62mph times of 6.6 seconds. Top speeds differ though: RWD is 152mph, AWD 147mph.

The ultimate, for now, in XF performance, is the petrol 3.0-litre V6. This supercharged 380hp unit delivers 450Nm of torque to the rear wheels from a relatively high 4,500rpm.

While this means you have to work the engine hard to extract the most from it, it’s at these higher revs where the sound’s much more dramatic – you can hear the supercharger in action as you hold on

to each gear ratio, maximising performance.

Satisfyingly when you opt to drive this XF more gently the engine note is hushed as it is docile at urban speeds.

Once again the top speed is electronically

-limited to 155mph, but the 0-62mph time isn’t, taking just 5.3 seconds to complete the test. You’ll pay at the pumps though, with a claim of 34.0mpg and CO2 emissions of 198g/km.

4.8 out of 5

Handling

  • Lightweight aluminium body makes for agile handling
  • Buyers can choose different suspension set-ups
  • Revised steering delivers rewarding drive

Employing lightweight aluminium for the body not only makes the Jaguar XF particularly light and stiff, the resultant side effect is improved handling over the outgoing version.

Comfort and agility

This only tells part of the story though, for Jaguar has long been lauded for the comfort of its cars and the XF is no different: choosing the optimum suspension set-up helps.

The double wishbone front suspension is designed in such a way that maximises tyre contact with the road whether in a straight line or cornering, delivering agility that belies the XF’s size.

At the rear is an integral link system that allowed Jaguar’s engineers greater control over both handling characteristics and ride quality. It feels uncanny that a car which changes direction with such poise can ensure its passengers remain unruffled.

Different suspension set-ups available

Standard-fit suspension dampers have been improved so that the faster you go, the stiffer they become to aid handling.

Adaptive dampers are also available, enhancing the experience further still. Even in its firmest setting the XF transmits few serious bumps through to the cabin, yet it feels even more composed and confidence-inspiring through high speed corners.

Configurable Dynamics, available on V6-engined versions, allows the driver to further adjust throttle response, gear change points and steering weight in addition to the suspension.

Rewarding to drive

The XF steering is now an electrically power-assisted system for greater fuel efficiency, and it feels immediate, accurate and with well-weighted responses.

Steering action is further enhanced with Torque Vectoring by Braking (TVbB), another technology seen first in the range on the F-Type, which gently brakes the inside wheels through bends mitigating the chances of the XF pushing wide into understeer.

The brakes feel impressive too, delivering excellent retardation with negligible evidence of fading despite repeated heavy use. They’re easy to modulate too, permitting gentle slowing.