Maybe you missed the official statement that Jaguar is back, but here it is: “Jaguar is back.” The British automaker has returned to making beautiful, world-class products again and it’s kind of on a roll.
The F-Pace was leading the charge, earning the 2017 World Car of the Year Award while it was also a finalist for the 2017 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year Award. The designers at parent company Jaguar Land Rover also earned a World Car Design Award this year for the Range Rover Velar.
Those cars and those awards built some nice momentum for the company, which is trickling down into more exciting cars and products. The I-Pace electric crossover is taking aim at Tesla, the E-Pace is a new compact CUV getting great reviews, the F-Type is still turning heads, and the brand’s sedans are getting better and better.
The Jaguar XF is a perfect example of how positive this momentum has been. A well designed and stately sedan, the XF of yore was always a good alternative to other executive cars but lacked the quality feel of its German rivals from Audi, Mercedes, and BMW. Now as it enters the 2018 model year, it feels better than ever.
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Here’s what you need to know about the brand’s executive sedan:
The design of the car is where the first impression is made, and with the Jaguar XF, the sight is akin to seeing your prom date arrive at the door. It’s mature and special-looking on the surface, which is paired with a sly foreshadowing of the fun to come. A big grille matches nicely with chiseled lines found on the hood. The rear end is accented with a horizontal chrome strip connecting the taillights, as well as protruding exhaust tips. There are more chrome accents to be found on the vehicle that help keep your eye on the sedan, but overall, it’s a great looking car.
The good design continues inside, with an extremely well laid out cabin that’s easy to get along with. The rotary drive mode selector rises when you fire up the ignition, and this vehicle combines the nice layout with spectacle, technology, and luxury.
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Luxury is in the Details
The luxury is in the details. The seats are upholstered in a gorgeous copper brown leather with fine stitching. The buttons, knobs, and stalks exude quality in how they click and feel.
There’s also a never-ending list of interesting equipment to improve the commute. For example, the 14-way power adjustable seats up front also have (manual) folding wings on the headrest for additional support, and the thigh-extensions are powered, allowing them to roll out from under the seat, which is a huge difference when compared to Mercedes’ or BMW’s thigh supports, which have to be operated manually and have a crease where crumbs and dirt can fall into.
Heated and vented seats are available along with a heated steering wheel while rear seat passengers get dual-zone climate control and heated seats as well. They also get side and rear window shades to further the executive appeal. And when you look up to thank the Jaguar gods for the ride quality of the car (more on that later) you’ll also notice the nice suede headliner.
There’s a surprising amount of tech inside that will change whatever previous notions you might have had about Jaguar being an old-school automaker. The infotainment system is quick and responsive while also looking modern and cool. The system is powered by a quad-core processor and features its own operating system. Owners can connect their phones to the car via a USB cable and get access to some apps on the car’s screen. You can also throw a SIM card in the vehicle and get in-car internet connectivity as well, which can also enable some remote functionality like cabin preconditioning.
In front of the driver is a 12.3-inch color display that can be reconfigured and set up in a number of useful ways. It’s a lot like Volvo’s digital gauge cluster and Audi’s virtual cockpit, but I think that Jaguar might have them both beat. One last high-tech addition is the brand’s head-up display, which throws some more useful information and data to the driver.
Powertrain Makes it Plenty Quick
Our tester features a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 that makes 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. Buyers can opt for 40 more ponies by getting the XF S instead of the more mundane 35t model, but rest assured, the less powerful unit is still plenty quick.
The engine is paired with a refined and quick-shifting eight-speed automatic as well as a clever all-wheel-drive system that can change power delivery in 250 milliseconds. The whole combination allows the XF 35t to sprint to highway speeds in just around five seconds.
It feels more than competitive with the other six-cylinder sedans of this size, and I prefer the responsiveness of the supercharged engine when compared to the turbos fitted to the BMW 540i and E400.
Different Drive Modes
Jaguar makes good use of that powertrain. There are a number of drive modes to select between that adjust a number of parameters such as the steering, suspension, throttle feel, and transmission behavior. The preset modes provide enough differentiation and meet the expectations set by their names. The dynamic mode is plenty fun, while the eco mode smooths everything out to improve the fuel usage.
Beyond this though is the “configurable dynamics” page, which allows you to custom tune each setting to your own liking. Usually, these are pretty basic and aren’t worth diving into, but in the XF, each set has a very noticeable effect on the way the car drives. Color me impressed.
What is even more impressive is just how the XF handles and that might have something to do with the 3,880-lbs curb weight. Now don’t mistake this for being a lightweight, but in comparison to some other executive sports sedans, the XF is in pretty good shape.
The chassis features a lot of aluminum, which is Jaguar’s secret weapon in avoiding embarrassing trips to the scales. But it’s also very stiff, which enhances the handling feel. The car feels confident and tough on the road, which is what you want in a car that’s designed to make you feel like a boss. Not very many cars exude this feeling, mind you, but the Jaguar nails it.
One thing that was a letdown is the steering feel. Yes, the weight of the steering can be adjusted and it can feel just as heavy as you’d want it to, but there’s just no feel or feedback. It’s the only downside here.
An XF for Different Budgets
An interesting part of the XF is that it has its price tag covers a pretty wide spectrum. Base models start at $48,770 ($61,522 in Canada), which gets you access to a four-cylinder model. Fully loaded XF S vehicles with all the options including upgraded paint, interior and wheels will reach $84,830 ($94,922 in Canada).
What About THIS tester?
But here comes an odd disclaimer that I’ve never had to do in any other review: Tell you that you can’t do any independent research on the car. If you liked the car I drove, the 35t model, you’ll have to talk to your local dealership about it because if you go to any Jaguar website and try to build one yourself, there is no such trim level. Jaguar assures me that the car I drove exists and that people can buy it, but the website says otherwise. Here’s the memo: Don’t believe everything you see on the internet!
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