Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan & Stephen Spyropoulos
Published: March 14, 2016
The next time you’re on the road, do me a favour and count how many BMW 5-Series, Audi A6s and Mercedes-Benz E-Classes you spot. Quite a high number, am I right? Now count the number of Jaguar XFs, Cadillac CTS, and Infiniti Q70s. Exactly, not that many.
The point I am trying to get across is how jam-packed the mid-size sedan genre truly is but how dominant these three German brands are, mind you that Lexus is also doing quite well. But there is quite a striking disparity between the top and bottom performers, and with such a large slice of pie at stake, automakers aren’t willing to give up easily.
The latest contender in the gladiator’s arena is the new second-generation Jaguar XF. Featuring a sleeker design, a longer wheelbase with more interior space, an updated infotainment system, and a new aluminum-intensive frame that reduces the overall weight by 120 kg, Jaguar has its crosshairs on the kings of the hill. Many Canadians seem to admire Jaguars but few ever buy them – is the new XF enough to make them think again?
It has a good chance, and Jaguar’s new (free) warranty coverage is almost as good as the one they receive south of the border. They are offering Canadians a four-year bumper-to-bumper warranty / 80,000 km, whichever comes first, that also covers one year of parts, accessories, and six years of paint and corrosion fixes. Roadside assistance also comes complimentary for the entire term of the warranty, as does the first scheduled maintenance. All in all, it’s a good way to dilute the stereotype of their seemingly unreliable cars.
But who gives a rat’s ass about reliability when the car looks this good. Ian Callum never disappoints, and the XF has got something that the Germans don’t – charm. With a low posture and long hood, the XF looks classy, sexy, and refreshing – not something I’d normally say about a car with four rings or a three-pointed star. And though most people might have a hard time differentiating between the 2015 and 2016 models, the redefined proportions and assertive F-Type-inspired taillights bring out a more masculine side of the XF that we have never seen before.
In addition, the new XF is lower and wider than the outgoing model, and it hides a longer wheelbase and shorter overhangs – most evident in the interior. Due to the generous stretch, headroom and legroom is more than acceptable no matter which seat you choose. Jaguar designers also took extra care to isolate any road noise and keep the cabin well insulated. But to infuse a few hints of theatre, the new XF still retains that rising gear shifter and rotating air vents (only on the side fans near the door panel now, not the center ones).
Jaguar was sure not to just focus on interior space and design, but to revitalize the aging technology that put a ticking clock on the previous model. With a rejuvenating jolt into the modern world, the old Ford-era instrument cluster has been replaced by new gauges and a colourful 12.3-inch digital screen. Also given an upgrade is the new 10.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system, now dubbed InControl Touch Pro, which has made the Jaguar much easier to live with.
We have had some experience using the new system before in other Jaguar and Land Rover products, and while it is miles better than what it replaced, the lag between button response and touch feedback still leaves us wanting. I am the type of guy who can’t even tolerate the slightest bit of network lag on a first-person shooter, let alone a car’s screen menu, so you wouldn’t be surprised if I left the XF feeling irritated. Regardless, the new colourful displays and more intuitive menus do offer the XF a smoother transition into the 21st century, even if it’s not quite at the top of our favourite’s list.
Other tech-laden features include a new head-up display, forward collision warning, automated braking, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, a speed limit reader, and semi-automated parking.
There are currently two flavours to the XF’s power source, and they are both supercharged V6s ripped straight off the F-Type. Get them while they last, I doubt Jags will be supercharging much longer with impending doom on fuel restrictions. Base XF models will get a 340 hp V6 engine while the S models (as you see in the photos above) get a power bump up to 380 hp with no change in torque.
There’s only a 40 horsepower gap between them, and while we haven’t had a chance to drive the less powerful model, we doubt it is going to feel that much faster. In our experience, anything hovering around the 300 hp range is all the power you will ever need out of a mid-size sedan.
With that being said, any of Jaguar’s supercharged engines are a delightful experience. Each of them emit a lovely whine following a prod on the gas pedal, resulting in instant power delivery courtesy of the blower. As a result, the XF doesn’t drive like anything else in the segment. Matched with the lovely 8-speed ZF automatic transmission, the gear changes are smooth and almost telepathic. It does what you need it to do without asking, almost like the perfect maid.
Snow lovers can rejoice, as all-wheel drive (AWD) comes standard and is the only option for the Canadian market, but Jaguar has smartly tuned the XF’s system to behave like a rear-wheel biased vehicle. Meaning, in dry conditions all of the power is sent to the rear wheels and only when the XF detects slip, will power be sent to the front. I also love how you can view the power distribution in real-time on the display. That being said, the XF preserves that sporty drive without interference on the steering.
Now, the XF uses a similar electric power-assisted steering setup that you would find in the F-Type, and it is much better than the last-generation XF – stiffer and better on-center feel. The car is more eager to turn-in and also elicits a sharper response. Though, I believe the winter rubber our XF was wearing may have taken away some of that steering feel. On a side note, the gas pedal and brake pedal are positioned way too close together. Big-footed drivers should take care in avoiding hitting both pedals at the same time.
Along with AWD capabilities, the new XF comes with a new feature called Adaptive Surface Response, designed to analyze the road surface and automatically tweaks the steering, throttle, transmission, and stability control systems to offer the best setup for optimal traction. Think of it like the new “Snow” mode, and it works wonderfully on harsh and slippery terrain, providing a non-slip launch and well-controlled acceleration.
Another highlight is what Jaguar is calling low friction launch. Think of it like a launch control but for adverse weather conditions. Hammering the throttle makes the car go slow and intelligently distribute the power to all four wheels to attain the most grip possible.
Drivers that are picky with their car’s setup will be happy to hear that you can tailor the XF’s engine response, gear shifts, steering feel, and suspension through the display screen, just like in the F-Type. This “Adaptive Dynamics” screen is only available in the S model, but it is refreshing to have these options available to you. Say, you want heavier steering feel but don’t necessarily want a jarring and firm ride. Well, the XF lets you play with it and customize it however you like: steering in sport, suspension to comfort.
There are four different trims to choose from: Premium ($61,400), Prestige ($66,400), R Sport ($69,900), and S ($72,900), all priced a few thousand dollars less than the rivaling German competitors that are similarly loaded. I’d personally wait for the new 2.0-litre turbodiesel option that is making its way to this side of the ocean by the end of this year – it fits the XF’s mojo better by transforming it from a wannabe sports sedan into a luxury cruiser with an audacious but frugal personality.
But if you must have one now, get the R Sport. Though it doesn’t have the more powerful V6 engine, 340 hp is more than enough to handle highways and back roads. Combine that with the aesthetically pleasing R Sport body kit, standard safety equipment, leather seats and clean-cut 19-inch wheels, and you’ve got yourself a luxury cruiser that will siphon you out of your mid-life crisis.
By the bigger picture, the new Jaguar XF trades weight for technology. Brought into the fold by new design language and modernized technological and safety features, the XF is taking a stab at its rightful throne and remains as the golden alternative to mainstream German luxury sedans.
While it doesn’t supply a hair-raising engine (yet) or an infotainment system to match, the XF does present itself as a refreshing sedan with focus on taste, bad-boy looks, and emotion. And if you’re worried about Jaguar’s life-long tradition of unreliability, then the new warranty deal has got you covered. If you’re out shopping for mid-size luxury sedan, by all means, check out the 5-series, A6, or E-Class but don’t make a decision before stopping at the Jaguar dealership. You might just find the needle in the haystack.
型号 Model: 2016 Jaguar XF S AWD
顏色 Paint Type: Ammonite Grey
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $72,900
試車售價 Price as Tested: $78,300
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,960
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,954 / 1,880 / 1,457
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,760
引擎 Engine: 3.0-litre supercharged V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 380 hp @ 6,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 332 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed ZF automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: Double wishbone
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Integral link
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 11.9 / 8.3 / 10.3
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 11.6
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P295/35R20