COVENTRY'S CLIMAX? 03/08/2018 00:00:00
By Jonathan Crouch
If you think the big three prestigious German brands have the Executive car segment sewn- up, a drive in Jaguar's second generation 'X260'-series XF may be enough to make you reconsider. Even in the face of tough competition from rivals like the BMW 5 Series, the Mercedes E-Class and the Audi A6, this car offers a compelling range of virtues, being more spacious than its 'X250'-series predecessor and with greater levels of quality and connectivity. Perhaps most significantly, this MK2 model's aluminium-intensive architecture provides for weight savings that have delivered sharper handling and class-leading efficiency. In short, it's a very complete package.
4dr Executive Saloon / 'Sportbrake' estate (2.0 petrol / 3.0 V6 supercharged petrol / 2.0d diesel / 3.0 V6 diesel)
Can any auto maker's future hinge on the fortunes of a single model? History suggests so. Take Jaguar's XF. The original version, launched back in 2007, transformed the way people thought about this prestigious British brand. Smart, rakish and sophisticated, it referenced the future at a time when the company's other models were still steeped in the past. And set the tone for a fresh, stylishly dynamic period in the company's history that's since brought us not only more luxury saloons but also sportscars, estates - and even an SUV. All of these models were fundamentally new in a way that, back in Jaguar's old Ford-owned era, the original 'X250'-series MK1 model XF could never be. Hence the need for the MK2 'X260'-series model we look at here as a used buy, launched in 2015.
This design might not look very different from its predecessor at first glance. Yet a styling evolution hides a product revolution, this MK2 model being lighter, more efficient and more packed with technology, an improvement on its predecessor in every possible respect. Slightly more compact dimensions disguise a longer wheelbase that allowed the hi-tech aluminium-intensive architecture to clothe a much more spacious cabin, especially for rear seat folk.
What didn't change was the XF's remit as a more sporting, dynamic choice in the full-sized Executive segment. To put that in competitive context, it's more BMW 5 Series than Audi A6 or Mercedes E-Class, though buyers of all three of these cars should be tempted by this model's cutting-edge cabin technology and class-leading efficiency figures. This car was launched with jaguar's older petrol engine technology, but a range of Ingenium petrol units soon joined the range, to go with the Ingenium diesel available from the start. An AWD option was introduced in January 2016. A Sportbrake estate body style was added to the range in 2017, as was a 300PS version of the Ingenium petrol engine.
What You Get
From almost any angle, you'd know this was a Jaguar. You'd know this was an XF. It's a very different one though, in ways you simply won't appreciate if all you offer this car is a cursory glance. The sweeping coupe-like profile that defined the original model evolved here, the roofline lower, the rear deck longer and higher.
We should talk about the dimensions too. Think it looks a little smaller than the old 'X250'-series design? You're right, it is. Jaguar knew this second generation model had to be more spacious inside, but that didn't mean the car itself had to be bigger. Hence the slightly more compact shape. It's 7mm shorter and 3mm lower in MK2 form, yet at the same time, more length was freed up between the wheels thanks to shorter front and rear overhangs. That means a substantial 51mm wheelbase increase that gave the designers a proper shot at addressing the biggest issue that owners had with the first generation version of this car: it's very restricted rear cabin space. Sure enough, there are massive improvements here, with 15mm more legroom, 24mm more knee room and 27mm more headroom than before: it all made a huge difference.
A seat in the front of an XF has always been a special experience. With this MK2 model, the brief was to retain that sense of occasion but mature and simplify the design language a little. So there's a classier, more modern look as Jaguar's designers have sought to find more interesting and contemporary ways to say 'luxury': largely, their efforts seem have worked. The rising circular gear selector remains on automatic models: so do the cartwheeling air vents, though they've here been reduced in number and thrown to the edges of the cabin, with the centre of the fascia freed up for an 8-inch 'InControl Touch' infotainment system.
As you look around, the height of the waistline and the centre console gives the safe, driver-focused feeling of being sat in the beautifully supportive leather seat, rather than on it. At the same time, the strong horizontal theme of the instrument panel, the layering of it and the materials used for each layer creates the kind of rich, luxurious, hand-crafted ambience you just don't get in this car's Teutonic rivals from this era. Do the shorter rear overhangs necessitate a smaller boot? Actually no - quite the reverse is true. Lift the lid and a 540-litre space is revealed, a 40-litre increase on the previous model accessed via a larger aperture than before.
What You Pay
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What to Look For
Most XF owners in our survey seemed very satisfied, but we did come across a few issues. One owner experienced coolant loss after 2,500 miles, which turned out to be a faulty gearbox coolant hose. One owner complained of a faulty boot catch that saw the boot lid hitting the bumper and damaging it. More seriously, another 2.0d model needed a new engine and a replacement steering rack. In one case, there was a water leakage problem, flooding the front passenger footwell. In another, there was a faulty service indicator on the dash. We've heard of a number of problems with the sat nav and WiFi, caused through a JLR upgrade that not all cars will have had; check if the one you're looking at has. Check all these things on your test drive - and look out for scuffed alloy wheels that could be pricey to fix. And, obviously, insist on a fully stamped-up service record.
(approx based on a 2015 Jaguar XF 2.0d) Front brake pads are around £95; rear brake pads vary between £20 and £44. An oil filter is around £12. A wiper blade is in the £22-£27 bracket. A headlamp bulb is about £45. An air filter is around £14.
On the Road
On the move, the weight savings achieved in the design of this second generation model quickly make themselves felt, with sharp corner turn-in aided by a responsive electric power steering system, a much stiffer body and standard torque vectoring that eliminates understeer and keeps you on your chosen line. A 'JaguarDrive Control' driving modes system offers you 'Eco', 'Normal' and 'Dynamic' settings that tweak throttle response, steering feel and gearchange timings, depending on the way you want to drive, plus there's a 'Winter' mode which on automatic models includes an 'All-Surface Progress' set-up for easier take-off on slippery surfaces. If you want adaptive damping too, you'll need to get a car whose original owner specified the optional 'Adaptive Dynamics' system.
Engine-wise, most buyers will want the '2.0-litre i4' 'Ingenium'-series four cylinder diesel powerplant, offered in either 163PS or 180PS guises. The lower-powered variant offers class-leading supermini-style efficiency figures (70.6mpg on the combined cycle and 104g/km of CO2) but has less torque than the pokier 180PS derivative most original buyers chose, a car that makes 62mph in 8.1s en route to 136mph. There's a choice of either six-speed manual transmission or the 8-speed auto 'box that most will want. Petrol models start with the old Ford-derived 2.0-litre unit used when this car was first introduced in 2015, but this was replaced a year later by Jaguar's own more efficient 'Ingenium' 2.0-litre petrol powerplant. Both 2.0-litre petrol and diesel models were offered with the option of AWD from 2016. If you want a pokier XF, you'll have to find the substantial price premium for one of the performance-orientated 3.0-litre six cylinder XF S models. There are two of these, a 300PS twin-turbo diesel and a supercharged 320PS petrol version.
Lighter, more spacious, better-looking and a whole lot more efficient, this MK2 XF model worried the German makers more than any model Jaguar had previously brought us. There's nothing simple about producing a car as good as this one, a model that set fresh class standards in terms of its aluminium-intensive architecture, its running costs and its ride and handling balance. True, it might not have been the game-changer its predecessor was, but then it didn't need to be. That corner had already been turned. The old XF showed how Jaguar could compete on equal terms with its Teutonic rivals. This car though, demonstrated clearly how it meant to go about beating them.
Ultimately what was so masterful about this second generation XF was how cleverly Jaguar kept and built upon what was good about the original version, while being realistic about where the old car's weaknesses were. As a result, with this 'X260'-series car, you really can have a beautiful Executive class model that offers cutting-edge technology and a dynamic driving experience but which is also built in Britain and sips fuel like a supermini. These truly are amazing times.
X MARKS THE SPOT 22/01/2016 00:00:00
The Jaguar XF has evolved and improved, now offering a smarter package that includes the brand's latest mild hybrid tech. Jonathan Crouch takes a look
Ten Second Review
If you think the big three prestigious German brands have the Executive car segment sewn-up, a drive in the improved version of Jaguar's second generation XF may be enough to make you reconsider. Even in the face of tough competition from rivals like the BMW 5 Series, the Mercedes E-Class and the Audi A6, this car offers a compelling range of virtues.
This MK2 Jaguar XF, launched back in 2015, proved to be lighter, more efficient and packed with technology, an improvement on its predecessor in every possible respect, aided by its hi-tech aluminium-intensive architecture. But time moves on. Since then, we've seen all-new versions of all this car's key market rivals, yet the XF soldiers on as a bit of a left-field choice in the full-sized executive segment. Now updated, it aims to offer a more sporting, dynamic choice in the full-sized Executive segment. To put that in competitive context, it's more BMW 5 Series than Audi A6 or Mercedes E-Class, though buyers of all three of these cars should be tempted by this model's luxurious cabin technology and very decent efficiency figures.
In the last decade, German rivals like these have dominated this market sector as Jaguar re-built its reputation amongst business buyers. Having done that and rejuvenated the car that re-established it as a desirable brand, the company's ready to take on this segment in earnest with what looks to be an elegant, progressive display of British engineering and craftsmanship. How will it fare? Let's find out.
Stay with us here. The XF range hinges around a 2.0-litre diesel four-cylinder engine and while that doesn't sound too exciting, it's where the big sales are. It now comes in a single 204PS D200 state of tune, offers customers the option of rear wheel drive or AWD and features the brand's latest MHEV mild hybrid engine tech, which can assist the engine under acceleration. As a result, a rear-driven model gets to 60mph in 7.1s - or 7.5s in AWD form. The conventional petrol options continue much as before, 250 or 300PS versions of Jaguar's usual 2.0-litre Ingenium unit in the P250 (RWD) and P300 (AWD) variants. Both feature the engine technologies including a twin scroll turbocharger and Continuous Variable Valve Lift (CVVL), for a strong combination of refined performance and efficiency. The P250 makes 60mph in 6.5s, which the P300 AWD variant mamnages the same sprint in 5.8s. All engines are paired with Jaguar's eight-speed automatic gearbox, which can be controlled using the steering wheel shift paddles for added driver engagement.
Across the XF range, driving dynamics suit a relaxed but purposeful style. The chassis delivers near perfect 50:50 weight distribution and huge strides have been made to perfect refinement. Ride is another class-leading XF quality. This Jaguar shares its suspension set-up with the smaller XE model, which means struts with double wishbones at the front and an 'integral link' independent set-up at the rear. The steering uses the same electric power-assisted set-up as the Jaguar F-Type and XE, while active dampers are on the options list.
Design and Build
From almost any angle, you'd know this was a Jaguar. You'd know this was an XF. The look has been evolved here though, with features like revised super-slim all-LED quad headlights with 'Double J' Daytime Running Light signatures. There's also a wider front grille and revised bumpers with larger and lower air intakes at the front. The side fender vents now feature the iconic Leaper emblem and at the rear, there are darkened tail lamp surrounds for the saloon and a body-coloured upper valance.
There are changes inside too, with a 'sportier' centre console that sweeps up to a new centrally-mounted 11.4-inch curved-glass HD touchscreen for the new 'Pivi Pro' infotainment system, which has standard 'Apple CarPlay'/'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring and the latest embedded dual-sim technology with over-the-air updates. The seats have been re-designed with wider cushioning and a Jaguar Leaper embossed on the headrests. And the door casings have been revised too. Authentic finishes, including open-pore wood veneers and aluminium, feature in beautifully formed shapes such as the upper door insert and full width 'Piano lid' that is formed across the width of the dashboard. Through the wheel, the driver now views a new 12.3-inch HD Interactive Driver Display that replaces the conventional dials.
At 4,954mm long, the XF remains a big car, so there's lots of room in the back. The doors offer an optional soft-close function, and there's plenty of natural light flooding the cabin. If you want more, you can specify a panoramic sunroof. The rear bench also features a practical 40:20:40 split, making it easier to through-load bulky items such as skis. The 540-litre boot has the option of a power close function which can work with one of those 'gesture control' systems if you approach the car laden down with baggage.
Market and Model
As ever, the XF comes in either saloon or Sportbrake estate guises. Prices start at around £34,000 for a D200 variant with 204PS. Prices for the D200 with AWD start at just over £35,000. The P250 base petrol model starts at around £38,000, with the P300 AWD 300PS flagship variant costing from around £45,000. The base diesel model comes with an entry 'R-Dynamic S' level of trim, but otherwise, XF customers choose between 'R-Dynamic SE', 'R-Dynamic HSE' or 'R-Dynamic Black' options.
Key here is the recent introduction of the standard 11.4-inch 'Pivi Pro' centre-dash infotainment screen, which incorporates two LTE modems enabling the system to carry out multiple functions at the same time, such as streaming media and downloading SOTA updates, without compromising performance. You also get a 12.3-inch digital instrument binnacle screen which can show full-screen mapping. And another screen can be activated via Jaguar's 'ClearSight' interior rear view mirror which gives the driver an unobstructed view of the road behind. Using a wide angle rear-facing camera, the optional system feeds images to a high-definition screen within the frameless rear view mirror; unhindered by tall rear passengers, poor light or rain on the rear screen.
The headlights can now be specified with Pixel LED technology and Adaptive Driving Beam capability so that they alter their range to fit with road conditions and surrounding traffic. You can also now specify a Cabin air ionisation system that improves interior air quality through Nanoe technolgy, which helps remove allergens and unpleasant odours.
Safety technology includes 'Forward Traffic Detection' which alerts you at times of reduced visbility when something is crossing your path up-front. And 'Forward Vehicle Guidance' which helps you place the car in low speed parking manoevres.
Cost of Ownership
As before, it helps the XF's cause that it's relatively light weight, thanks to the fact that so much of the structure of the car (75%) is fashioned from aluminium. The important news with this revised model though, is that its core 204PS 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel engine used with the mainstream D200 diesel variant now features Jaguar's latest next generation Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle (MHEV) technology for the first time. This uses a Belt-integrated Starter Generator (BiSG) situated in the engine bay to harvest energy usually lost when slowing and braking, which is then stored in a 48V lithium-ion battery located beneath the rear loadspace. It is able to redeploy the stored energy to assist the engine when accelerating away while also delivering a more refined and responsive stop/start system. What about the WLTP-rated results of all this? Well, you're looking at 57.2mpg on the combined cycle and 131g/km of CO2, which is very class competitive and 13-14% better than the previous D180 variant. Plus the D200 is RDE2-compliant, so is tax-optimised.
The petrol variants do without the MHEV tech - and it shows a bit. The P250 RWD version delivers 35.2mpg on the combined cycle and 190g/km of CO2. What else? You get the usual unremarkable three year warranty. And service intervals are set at 21,000miles or every 24 months, whichever comes first and it would be sensible to consider one of Jaguar's Service Plans that cover you for virtually everything in advance. There's a 'Standard Mileage Service Plan' that covers you for five years/50,000 miles. Or a 'High Mileage Service Plan' that covers five years/75,000 miles.
Light, spacious, good looking and efficient, this car ought to worry rival German makers more than it probably will. Are there issues? A few. The range of engine variants on offer still isn't as wide as you'll find elsewhere. And it's a pity that, as yet, the mild hybrid tech hasn't been extended to the Ingenium petrol engines. We miss the lack of a six cylinder powerplant option too.
Ultimately though, what's so masterful about the improved interpretation of this second generation XF is how cleverly Jaguar has kept and built upon what was good about the original version of this MK2 model, while being realistic about where that earlier car's weaknesses were. As a result, you now really can have a beautiful Executive class model that offers cutting-edge technology and a dynamic driving experience but which is also built in Britain and sips fuel like a family hatch. These truly are amazing times.
THE CAT'S WHISKERS 27/08/2021 17:15:00
The second generation Jaguar XF offers a welcome alternative to executives tired of Teutonic efficiency. June Neary tries It
Will It Suit Me?
It's good to see Jaguar back in the limelight. I'm old enough to remember the time when if you thought of an executive car in this country, you thought of a Jag. These days the leaping Cat is leaping once more thanks to this second generation version of the company XF executive model.
It's a car designed to provide a real alternative to premium customers tired of Teutonic efficiency. I have to say that the smarter front and rear styling is much more to my taste than the old car's - even if all those twinkling LEDs fringing the new headlights are a bit OTT. But it certainly makes a distinctive rear view mirror statement - just as the designers intended. Inside, the material upgrades make the cabin feel even more special and the German opposition even more dour. Love those rich wood veneers.
Traditionally, an XF was never the most spacious car in its sector, coupe-like rear styling limiting back seat passenger room in comparison to rival BMW 5 Series or Mercedes E-Class models. In response, Jaguar has lengthened the wheelbase of this second generation model by 51mm and the result is a big improvement in rear seat legroom.
I didn't spend much time travelling in the back though because a seat in the front of an XF has always been a special experience. If you ever tried the first generation model, what you'll probably remember most is the way the start-up sequence brought the car to life as the rotary gear selector rose up from the centre console and the airvents rotated into position. This time round, the brief was to retain that sense of occasion but mature and simplify the design language a little. So there's a classier, more modern look as Jaguar's designers have sought to find more interesting and contemporary ways to say 'luxury'.
Largely, I think their efforts have worked. The rising circular gear selector remains on automatic models: so do the cartwheeling airvents, though they've been reduced in number and thrown to the edges of the cabin, with the centre of the fascia now freed up for a smart and informative 8-inch 'InControl Touch' infotainment system.
I did worry that the shorter rear overhangs of this MK2 model might necessitate a smaller boot but actually, quite the reverse is true. Lift the lid (my test car had the rather pointless optional power opener fitted) and a 540-litre space is revealed, a 40-litre increase on the previous model accessed via a larger aperture than before. That's easily enough for pushchairs and the like (do XF owners still have pushchairs?). It is annoying though, to find that most trim levels don't allow you to extend this space into the cabin: only the very plushest models have a split-folding rear bench fitted as standard.
Behind the Wheel
Set off and under the bonnet ahead in the volume 2.0-litre volume diesel version I tried (the one most XF customers will buy) lies an 'Ingenium'-series engine more commonly seen in lesser models from the Jaguar Land Rover conglomerate like the Discovery Sport family SUV. For such a product as that, the muted diesel clatter is quite acceptable but initially, you wonder whether such a powerplant is entirely appropriate for such a quintessential Jaguar.
As your speed rises though, you find such questions melting away. Partly because refinement improves as the engine exercises its prodigious torque. And partly because of something that really does set this car apart in its segment: its ride and handling balance. Credit for this goes to a clever rear suspension system that rivals will certainly want to take apart and copy. It's called 'Integral Link' and it's there to intelligently manage lateral and longitudinal body movements in a way that gives you taut body control when you want it and a beautifully relaxing ride when you don't.
Engine-wise, most buyers will want the '2.0-litre i4' 'Ingenium'-series four cylinder diesel powerplant, offered in either 163PS or 180PS guises. The lower-powered variant offers class-leading supermini-style efficiency figures (70.6mpg on the combined cycle and 104g/km of CO2) but has less torque than the pokier 180PS derivative I tried, a car that makes 62mph in 8.1s en route to 136mph. There's a choice of either six-speed manual transmission (a first for XF buyers) or the 8-speed auto 'box that most will want. If you want a pokier XF, you'll have to find the substantial price premium for one of the performance-orientated six cylinder XF S models. There are two of these, a 300PS twin-turbo diesel and a supercharged 320PS petrol version.
Value For Money
It seems strange to remember now that the original version of this XF was launched without the thing that most Executive segment buyers actually want - a four cylinder diesel engine. Even when Jaguar finally put that omission right with the facelifted MK1 model in 2011, the range still lacked key elements like an estate bodystyle and a manual gearbox option. These days though, the brand is at last getting fundamental things like this right. They've certainly got the idea when it comes to the importance of a four cylinder diesel, the MK2 model saloon line-up we're looking at here fundamentally built around what Jaguar calls '2.0-litre i4' power, a new-generation Ingenium series diesel unit offered in 163PS or 180PS guises and priced across three trim levels in the £32,000 to £40,000 bracket. Many will want the pokier version I tried, given that the premium for it is only £500.
I mentioned a manual gearbox: for the first time in an XF, you can now have one, though by the same token, this also means that for the first time in an XF, you have to pay a premium for auto transmission, a not insignificant £1,750 - which will leave most buyers having to think in terms of this being a £35,000 to £40,000 car. But then maybe it should be, given that the smaller BMW 3 Series-sized Jaguar XE starts at around £30,000. Of course, not all buyers will want a four cylinder diesel XF and for the very few that don't, Jaguar has a pricey but very powerful range of performance versions. If you can find £50,000 to get yourself into an 'S'-grade XF model, you'll savour the identically-priced choice of a 300PS 3.0-litre V6 twin turbo diesel variant or a version with the same 380PS supercharged 3.0-litre petrol V6 unit you'll find in the brand's F-TYPE sportscar.
Could I Live With One?
I'm still not sure the XF would be my first choice in the class but it's certainly a true Jaguar - and the kind of car that will have many thinking again over their choice of executive saloon. As in the Sixties, a Jaguar may once again, be the executive thing to have.