German automakers have dominated the current sports-sedan market. Although Japanese and Korean automakers are getting closer to replicating the driving enchantment of the BMW 3- and 5-series, Jaguar's dedication to luxury often overshadows the sportiness of its vehicles. The first-generation Jaguar XF did capture the enchantment when it debuted for the 2009 model year and won a 10Best award, but it's been a bumpy journey since then—quite literally in the case of Jaguar's track-focused XE SV Project 8.
The current XF series, which was introduced in 2016, had grown to ten variations last year. To make things easier, Jaguar is cutting the number of XF versions from ten to three—the V-6 and the beautiful wagon are no longer available.
the XF will come only as a sedan, and buyers will have a choice of a 246- or 296-hp 2.0-liter turbo-four. The contraction and otherwise standard mid-cycle refresh seem to have allowed Jag to hone the XF without getting bogged down in an overly complex portfolio.
HIGHS: Nicely updated interior, attractive pricing, respectable levels of performance and luxury.
The redesigned dash and instrument panel are the first things you notice in the new XF. The retractable dial-a-gear shifter has been replaced with an electronic shift lever for the eight-speed automatic transmission supplied by ZF.
You can shift yourself with steering-wheel paddles, as predicted, though we don't see the purpose. There was never a need to change gear once we were on the go. The new Pivi Pro infotainment system is controlled via a 11.4-inch touchscreen, which can be bewildering at first. Don't be intimidated; it's well-designed, and you'll adjust soon. Six-footers can fit comfortably in the back seat for those who choose to use it.
Because Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has a new inline-six that would work nicely in this sedan, switching to an all-four-cylinder lineup is an odd simplification. When you put your foot on the pedal, an unrefined growl of a stressed 2.0-liter emerges. The car we tested was an all-wheel-drive R-Dynamic SE with the P300 nameplate, which was the sole model with the 296-hp four. Two rear-drive variants (S and SE) are available, both with a 246-hp four-cylinder engine.
Our car reached 60 mph in 6.2 seconds and completed the quarter-mile in 14.7 seconds at 94 mph when unleashed on the test track, putting the new top XF only 0.2 second behind the last all-wheel-drive BMW 530i we tested, a 2017 model, though far behind more powerful six-cylinder alternatives such as the 540i and Audi A6 3.0T. Although the R-Dynamic SE was able to equal its 30-mpg EPA estimate on our 75-mph highway test, giving it a substantial 580-mile highway range, our average fuel economy was only 23 mpg.
LOWS: Six-cylinder and wagon options are dead, still not as quick nor as refined as its German rivals.
Of course, acceleration isn't the only factor to consider when evaluating a sports sedan. In addition to the Audi A6, BMW 5-series, and Mercedes-Benz E-class, the XF competes in a segment that includes the Genesis G80, Lexus ES, and Volvo S90. The XF, G80, and ES are the only models with a four-digit base price. Jaguar is attempting to undercut its rivals. The XF starts at $45,145, while the A6 and 5-series start at around $10,000 more.
Well-equipped with options—including the $1350 Dynamic Handling package (selectable drive modes, adaptive dampers, red-painted brake calipers, and a rear spoiler) and a $1200 set of dark-finished 20-inch wheels shod with Pirelli Cinturato P7 All-Season PNSC tires—our example tallied $62,295. The extra cost for a comparable Audi or BMW does buy you a little more insulation from road and wind noise than we recorded in the XF; our sound readings measured 74 decibels at full throttle and 67 decibels at a 70-mph cruise. But this Jaguar does a wonderful impression of German isolation and over-the-road refinement.
A sports sedan must also be capable of handling, and the XF's chassis is eager to participate in the g-force pursuit. Although our test car's all-season tires contributed to the mediocre 0.87 g on the skidpad, the XF turns smoothly when you lift off the throttle at the maximum. With precise and snappy reflexes, the steering fulfills sports ambitions. While it isn't groundbreaking in terms of electrically assisted devices, the input and reflexes provided by the wheel are robust and dependable.
It gives the impression that you're driving a car that's a class above mid-size. Only the brakes, which suffer from a dead spot at the top of the pedal stroke, let us down. That said, our test car's 176-foot stop from 70 mph is a competitive effort and a touch shorter than what the aforementioned 530i could manage.
The XF isn't equipped with the unnecessarily complicated settings and buttons found in its German competitors. It simply goes about its work, never bothering or perplexing its driver. By 2025, Jaguar plans to electrify its lineup, but the XF still has plenty of life. Installing the new inline-six engine would extend its life even further. The XF is athletic in a mature sense, skewed more toward luxury than the German alternatives. So it's exactly what Jaguar should be about, and it's now at a more appealing price.
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