Road Test: Jaguar XF 25d AWD R-Sport
A little Land Rover technology has made the XF a thoroughbred Jaguar sports saloon, reckons Alex Grant.
SECTOR Executive PRICE £41,510 FUEL 47.9mpg CO2 156g/km
This year marks a decade since Jaguar Land Rover formed, as the two brands merged as a subsidiary of new owner, Tata Motors. It’s a merger which quickly became bigger than the sum of its parts; not only with the right products to carve out a bigger foothold on the global market, but by sharing complementary technology too.
In this spec, the XF feels like a good showcase of that way of working. Introduced during the last model year, it debuts a new 2.0-litre, twin-turbocharged diesel engine, paired with four-wheel drive technology from Land Rover, wrapped up in lightweight aluminium-rich structures now used throughout the two model ranges. It’s said to be a response to a growing demand for all-wheel drive executive saloons – but does it feel like a proper Jaguar?
Theoretically, of course it should. The XF’s four-wheel drive system is the same technology used to good effect in the F-Type; biased towards the rear axle under normal conditions, and only transferring torque to the front wheels when it detects grip is low. All-wheel drive versions also get technology derived from Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, automatically figuring out how the engine and transmission should respond to changing traction underneath, and adjusting settings accordingly. High-tech, low input.
In reality, it adds up to an executive saloon that feels at least as light on its feet as a car in the segment below. Sequential turbocharging offers the sort of low-rev pulling power you might expect from a much larger-capacity engine, without feeling blunted by over-intrusive, weighty four-wheel drive. It offers confident roadholding and reassuringly weighty, communicative controls, operating so seamlessly that it’s worth calling up the all-wheel-drive display to see what’s actually going on.
This doesn’t come at the expense of executive-class comfort, either. Eight gears help to keep the engine noise and fuel consumption down while cruising, and the R-Sport’s larger wheels and heavily-bolstered seats are as suitable for motorway comfort as they are for pinning occupants in place when taking the long and winding route home.
As a driver’s car, the only letdown is the dull mechanical whirr of its four-cylinder diesel engine when it’s under load. Jaguar might claim to roar where machines hum, but most UK-registered XFs have more bite than bark. Given that the upshot is over 40mpg, from a 153mph four-wheel drive executive car capable of reaching 62mph in 6.5 seconds from rest, it’s a sacrifice worth making.
Not all of the XF’s sacrifices are, though. Interior quality isn’t up to the high standards set by German, Japanese and now Swedish rivals, and it’s cramped in the back. The XF also isn’t available with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, which makes it feel like an older product. JLR’s touchscreen system does a lot, but others make it simpler.
However, it’s easy to forget just how far Jaguar has come since 2008 – a brand which had, at the time, only just launched the original XF, and was starting to reinvent itself. It’ll always have its work cut out in a segment as tough as this one, but with neatly-meshed JLR technology beneath seductive design, it’s well placed to tap into that growing demand.
What We Think:
In this spec, the XF offers a credible, sports car like drive, with looks to match. But it’s let down a little by low-rent cabin materials and some suspicious-by-absence technology.