Does a small diesel engine work in Jag’s executive sporting saloon? We test it to find out
What do we have here?
Launched in 2007, Jaguar’s XF took the executive world by storm. Lauded for its luxury interior, good looks and entertaining driving characteristics. The XF moved the Jaguar brand on leaps and bounds.
Now, there’s a new second-generation version of Jaguar’s middle four door saloon, sandwiched between the XE and XJ. It gets an aluminium-intensive architecture helping reduce weight by 190kg while torsional stiffness is up 28%.
The new model is 51mm longer, 3mm lower and has a stretched wheelbase that provides rear passengers with 15mm more legroom and 24mm knee room.
It's available with a choice of seven engines, three petrol and four diesel. Two versions of Jaguar’s 2.0-litre petrol are available with either 200PS or 250PS while there’s a range-topping 3.0-litre V6 with 380PS.
There is more choice if you want a diesel with the 2.0-litre four-cylinder available with either 163PS, 180PS and 240PS. A 3.0-litre V6 tops the range with 300PS.
The two entry level diesel engines are offered with a six-speed manual gearbox while the rest get an eight-speed ZF automatic as standard, which is an optional extra on the manual versions.
With most models being rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive is available on the more powerful variants.
Choose from four trim levels; Prestige; Portfolio; R-Sport; and XF S.
We’re testing the 2.0-litre 180PS diesel engine in R-Sport trim with an eight-speed automatic gearbox which costs £37,060.
R-Sport spec comes complete with bodykit, sports suspension, sports pedals, keyless start, auto wipers and lights, Jaguar drive control, torque vectoring, 8.0in Incontrol touchscreen sat nav with wifi, Bluetooth, iPod integration, DAB radio, 5.0in TFT-LCD display, lane departure warning, autonomous emergency brake, heated front seats, cruise control, and rear parking aid.
Our test car was fitted with Italian red paint (£690), 19in blade alloys (£1,230), InControl Touch Pro (£1,745), spare wheel (£185), adaptive dynamics (£1,020), heated powerfold mirrors (£360), power convenience pack (£870), privacy glass (£385), illuminated treadplates (£310), split fold rear seats 40:20:40 (£430), cold climate pack (£745) and air quality sensing (£55).
How does it drive?
The 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel develops 178bhp at 4000rpm and 317lb ft of torque at 1750rpm. It picks up speed sweetly, often getting you to the required speed limit with little fuss.
Where there is a fuss is the noise it produces. At low speeds, there’s an audible struggle and hum which turns to a grumble the faster you go.
Keeping the engine in the ideal rev band is the eight-speed ZF gearbox. Gears are changed without you noticing although when you want to overtake something, sink the accelerator and there is a delay which is accompanied by a bit of lurch as the box upshifts.
Use the steering wheel mounted paddles and gears are changed with precision and speed.
Being known as a sporting saloon, there’s a lot expected going into the first few bends. Initially, there’s a bit of a body weight shift as you enter the bend but it flattens out there after. With plenty of grip, even in RWD form, you can lean quite hard on the XF, although a 5-Series is more rewarding to drive.
Our test car rode on optional 19in alloy wheels and despite this, the XF still offered a very comfortable and cosseting ride. You can feel road imperfections and road water gullies but they never upset the ride.
Much of the time, the steering is keen to turn-in and well-weighted. It does, however, suffer from moments of inconsistency in feel, usually when cornering with added gusto.
The Jag does a decent job of keeping most of the outside world just where it should be. However, there’s an element of wind noise on the motorway, some suspension noise and a bit of tyre roar, so there is room for improvement.
Visibility out, however, is pretty poor. The front roof pillars are on the large side, while the side and rear roof pillars are very large, not helped at the back with the coupe roof profile.
What's it like inside?
The XF still has some wow factor features and some exquisite detailing. The rising gear lever still delights, as does the pulsing starter button and side air vents that rotate open when the car starts.
Jaguar is emblazoned onto the middle bar of the fixed central air vents and the wrap around door-to-door dash complete the delights, while classy leather wrapped surfaces add to an air of quality.
Where the interior falls down is on items like the flimsy seat height lever and the impressively cheap feeling switch that controls the angle of the backrest, while our test car’s central console wasn’t fitted correctly, squeaked and flexed when prodded.
The new infotainment system feels modern, is well designed and neatly detailed while the 12.3in digital instrument cluster adds to the air of cutting edge tech.
Despite the questionable controls, the driver’s seat has plenty of adjustment, is comfortable and supportive. In its lowest position head room is good, however, due to the camber of the roof, the grab handle on the roof is like to cause concern to taller drivers.
Release a rotary dial on the steering column to adjust the reach and tilt for the steering wheel, each of which has a good range of adjustment.
Finding a home for your belongings is aided by deep and wide door bins, there’s a tray ahead of the gear selector, two cupholders between the seats and a medium depth compartment underneath the central armrest.