2016 Jaguar XF: Modernizing Tradition, Phase Two

Strong points
  • Strong engine
  • Lighter body
  • Excellent handling
  • Elegant styling
  • Modern dashboard
Weak points
  • Certain controls need revising
  • Fussy navigation system
  • Unproven resale value
  • Steering a tad too light
Full report

When the first generation of the XF appeared in 2009, the sedan boasted a modern silhouette that put aside the brand’s stereotypical styling cues that were used for too long. The four circular headlights, the excessive application of exterior chrome trim and the mandatory walnut dashboard were all finally replaced by a more contemporary, novel and elegant design. And let’s not forget that this new model handling itself pretty well on the road, too. The modernization process continues, and the second-generation XF is even better than the first one.

From a styling standpoint, the car’s shape is more or less similar, but shares virtually no elements from the outgoing generation. Its front overhang is shorter, while its wheelbase has been stretched by 51 mm and overall length has grown by 7 mm. This extra distance between front and rear axles creates more kneeroom for rear-seat occupants. The sedan’s lines were also simplified in order to give it a racier look, and we can say that it’s a successful reskin. Meanwhile, drag coefficient has been reduced from 0.29 to 0.26. However, what Jaguar is most proud of is that they shaved 120 kg from the car’s curb weight. The secret is aluminum.

Pursuing the tradition with aluminum

We must remember that at a certain time, Jaguar was known for being at the forefront of automotive technologies, including the use of aluminum. At least before being nationalized in 1975, when Jaguar was part of British Leyland. Actually, 75% of the outgoing car was made from aluminum, and the rest was made from magnesium and high-quality steel. Curiously, the new XF’s doors and trunklid are made from steel, and Jaguar says it’s to ensure better weight distribution. We’re quite far from the first-generation’s platform, which was borrowed from the Lincoln LS and the Jaguar S-Type.

The supercharged 3.0-litre V6 is also made from aluminum. This time, however, it’s the only powertrain available, although in a few months, more options will be offered, including a diesel engine. Base and R-Sport trims are equipped by the 340-horsepower version of this 3.0L mill, while the S variant gets an extra 40 ponies with the same engine.

The only transmission available with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drivetrains is an eight-speed automatic. The big rotary knob on the centre console has been retained, and to use the wheel-mounted paddle shifters, the transmission must be switched to the S mode. If we search a little through the trip computer, there is a function that allows manual shifting when the gearbox is in D position. We must point out here that the eight-speed mechanism shifts very quickly and fluidly.

Smoothness and handling

Jaguar always tried to combine ride comfort, performance and handling. They didn’t always succeed, but they have admittedly respected their objectives in this new-generation XF. Even in Sport mode, the suspension never seemed too firm, and that smoothness hasn’t come at the expense of good handling characteristics. In fact, I was teamed up with a co-pilot that thought he was Lewis Hamilton; unfortunately, he didn’t have the latter’s talent, but did make me realize how well the XF forgives driving errors and possesses well-balanced handling.

In that regard, the new Jag is equipped with many electronic driving aids, including a brake-based torque vectoring system and an adaptive suspension that analyzes body movement (100 times per second) and wheels (500 times per second) to provide the best possible damping adjustment. In addition, as its name suggests, the Configurable Dynamics system allows the driver to set tuning characteristics according to his or her tastes. Finally, the optional all-wheel drivetrain works pretty seamlessly, and let’s not forget the car’s four drive modes: Normal, Winter, Eco and Dynamic.

Positive assessment

As in the previous-generation car, the dashboard is devoid of wood trim, as the brand’s designers preferred the use of textured aluminum. Upon engine startup, the shift lever knob rises from the console while the air vents open up like garage doors. This mechanism has been offered in Jaguar vehicles for the past few years now, and seems reliable.

Comfortably seated at the helm, the driver faces a relatively straightforward dashboard, despite a few elements that need to be decrypted, such as the cruise control system’s speed limiter.

For the rest, the new 2016 Jaguar XF is one of the best choices in its market segment. The whine of the V6’s supercharger can sometimes be heard, the steering is a tad too light and the navigation system didn’t perform to our expectations. However, all these are minor quibbles compared to the general balance of this sedan, which also offers good performance and quality for the price.

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