By Wayne Gorrett (first published in Beautiful South magazine)
➤ Remarkable handling for a sizeable car.
➤ F-Type steering wheel and instrument binnacle.
➤ Punchy 3.0-litre 375bhp supercharged V6 engine.
These days it would be safe to say that Jaguar is on a roll. Today, the British premium manufacturer is producing quality car after quality car and Indian parent company Tata Motors is happy as Larry to leave designers and engineers doing what they’re good at – designing and engineering stylish, sought-after cars with exceptional handling. The new Jaguar XF is one such car.
Launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2007, the original XF (project code X250) was a product of Jaguar’s Whitley design and development headquarters in Coventry. It continues to be built at the firm’s vast Castle Bromwich assembly facility near Birmingham and of the 292,566 first-generation XF saloons and estates sold worldwide, 89,081 found UK homes.
The second generation XF (X260) arrived in UK showrooms towards the end of 2015. Understanding its continuing popularity is not overly taxing…it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing.
The day before flying off to its September 2015 launch in Spain, I arranged a couple of hours in the outgoing XF around the New Forest to re-engage with it. The next morning as I set off from Bilbao airport, it didn’t take long to notice the XF’s weight loss and new-found agility.
The 2016 Jaguar XF features an all-new architecture, one that’s better in numerous ways compared to the structure around which its predecessor was built.
The new platform is approximately 75% aluminium. The switch to aerospace-grade metal helps this flabby tabby shed some unnecessary obesity. Rear-wheel-drive only models have lost around 59kg – a healthy reduction. Variants with the added mass and complexity of all-wheel-drive have shed even more weight, dropping some 118kg.
Making the XF’s weight loss more notable is the fact that its structure is 28% stiffer than before, which greatly improves driving dynamics and refinement and crash safety.
The wheelbase of the new Jaguar XF has grown by a little over five centimetres, bringing its total span to 2,959mm. Much of this stretch was shifted rearward to the benefit of rear-seat passengers and even those vertically gifted will enjoy ample leg and headroom.
Despite its hub-to-hub expansion, the XF’s overall length is shorter by 8mm. Part of the reason for this reduction is that designers shortened the car’s front overhang for a sportier look.
Inside the Jaguar XF 3.0 s/c V6 S variant tested, the cabin is airy and plush, with the leather upholstery and wood trim expected of a top-end British vehicle. High-quality materials are used throughout. Pragmatically speaking, the Jag makes life easier by implementing knobs and buttons for basic climate and audio settings instead of those annoyingly distracting all-touch controls.
On the road, the 3.0-litre XF displays suitably cat-like reflexes, staying true to its spirited beast. Accompanied by a deliciously throaty soundtrack, this large sedan feels keenly athletic on the road, with nicely weighted steering, perfect brake-pedal feel and more than enough power from its 3.0-litre supercharged V6 engine (375bhp/450Nm).
The 2016 Jaguar XF is all new from the ground up. It’s lighter and stiffer, better equipped and more luxurious than ever before. The end result of all these enhancements is a compelling luxury British saloon that is a delight to drive, especially in this 3.0 s/c V6 S guise as tested. It’s more of a driver’s car than the current 5 Series, more stylish than the E-Class, and more prestigious than the A6.