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Road Test: Jaguar XF

An all-new interior and diesel engine with mild hybrid technology mark out the facelifted XF in the executive class, Martyn Collins finds.

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Always known for the keen driving experience, Jaguar’s aim with the facelifted XF range is to increase the luxury, introducing a redesigned interior and improving the efficiency with a new mild hybrid diesel option.

The XF’s design isn’t as fresh as it was, after all it was launched six years ago. However, the new bumpers, LED headlights and grille, plus the optional Black Exterior Pack, certainly freshen it up. The biggest compliment I can give the new look is that it’s well integrated – unless you know the differences, you really wouldn’t spot them. The new grille treatment however, is a bit fussy.

By contrast, it’s all-change in the XF’s interior. The use of premium metal finishes and soft leather trim gives a real sense of occasion that was absent before. The centre console is dominated by a new 11.4-inch central curved screen, running the new Pivi Pro infotainment system. The maps are perhaps a bit simplistic though and moving between the other features isn’t so easy.

Other interior design highlights are the ventilation controls, which work better and look higher quality. It also gets the I-Pace’s three-spoke multi-function steering wheel, which is a joy to use. The circular gear selector, a feature since the first-generation XF, is long gone and has been replaced by a conventional shifter. The driving position is comfortable and the new seats supportive – although space is more compromised in the back seats. And thanks to Active Road Noise Cancellation, which removes unwanted noise from the interior, the XF is a pleasingly hushed place to spend time.

Alongside the exterior and interior changes, the range for the XF saloon and Sportbrake has been streamlined from 64 to 28 derivatives, a move that Jaguar claims reduces manufacturing complexity whilst retaining the most popular features selected by customers. R-Dynamic specification is available across S, SE and HSE models. All are well equipped, with twin-zone climate control and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Like the range, engine choices for the XF have been streamlined and are now limited to two petrols and one diesel. Petrol customers can choose between a 250hp and a 300hp version of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo Ingenium engine with rear- or four-wheel drive. These units deliver fuel economy of 35.2 and 33.9mpg, with CO2 emissions of 181 and 193g/km respectively.

Meanwhile, the new 204hp D200 diesel is capable of up to 57.2mpg with emissions from 131g/km for the saloon, improved by 13% compared to the outgoing D180, while combined fuel consumption is 14% better and now stands at 54.2mpg. It’s no surprise then that Jaguar is expecting a two-thirds split towards diesel models for fleet.

There’s no plug-in hybrid XF; the closest to hybridisation is the mild hybrid system attached to the D200 diesel. The MHEV set-up works via a belt-integrated starter generator in the engine bay, which harvests energy usually lost when slowing and braking. This energy is then stored in a 48V lithium-ion battery and used to assist the engine when accelerating and make the stop/start system more responsive.

First drive was in an R-Dynamic SE saloon with the 300hp 2.0-litre Ingenium petrol engine and four-wheel drive. As expected, it feels sporty to drive, with precise steering and excellent body control. Yet, despite the 20-inch wheels, the ride is composed and refined at speed.

Next up was the D200, in Sportbrake SE form. On the road, the MHEV system is well integrated, so it’s hard to tell any difference. It does feel sprightlier with an extra 24hp over the former D180, however. It’s more on the torquey than sporty side but performs well.

The latest improvements and innovations work well together, making the Jaguar XF harder to dismiss in a strongly fought class.

The Verdict

As good to drive as ever, the premium feel to the new interior of the facelifted XF marks this Jaguar out, despite tough opposition.

The Lowdown
Key Fleet Model: XF D200 2.0D SE MHEV RWD
Strengths: Affordable, stylish interior, great to drive
Weaknesses: Fussy front grille, rivals are more economical

Fleet World Star Rating
4

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Martyn Collins

Martyn has 18 years experience as a motoring journalist, working across a wide selection of B2B and consumer titles. A car enthusiast since his early years, Martyn has a particular interest in the latest models and technology and in his spare time enjoys driving his own Minis.