The Jaguar XF, since its release in 2007, has been the most awarded Jag ever and has sold a whopping quarter of a million cars. Now the smaller XE has arrived and pressure is on this year's XF to offer something more.
As a premium saloon the Jaguar XF has never scrimped on luxury, but it's also been known for power and technology too.
We tried three variants of the 2015 XF: on the road the R-Sport 2.0-litre diesel at 180PS, R-Sport 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel at 300PS, and on the track a 380PS 3.0-litre supercharged petrol.
We also tested the new InTouch Control Pro infotainment system which looks set to put Jag ahead of the competition. This system represents an easy-to-update smart connected car brain that should future-proof the vehicle.
So is the 2015 Jaguar XF worth shelling out a minimum of £32,300 for? And will those that opt for the top end £50,000 model be getting their money's worth?
Jaguar XF design decadence
Jaguar is well known for spending a lot of time and money on its design. Despite finding its shape in the existing XF, there has still been plenty more work put into perfecting the 2015 model.
The sub-frame on the XF is built from an advanced aluminium intensive architecture, meaning a flexible, modular approach to engineering, so the car can easily be upgraded for future models. It also means an 11 per cent lighter and 25 per cent stiffer frame than the previous model. This was also built for a quieter cabin - the ride certainly was noise free.
Using design skills and the help of some impressive computer systems, Jag has managed to lower the roof and shorten the car but still increase knee room and headroom inside. The boot is enormous with a 540-litre capacity offering near estate-level storage.
LED lighting in the front and rear of the car should make for a recognisable vehicle. The rear lights have a similar shape to the F-Type, but with a double circle for distinct XF styling.
Inside there's plenty of leather and luxury as you'd expect from Jaguar. The XF sits between the XE and the XJ, but doesn't scrimp on anything. The rear seats are spacious and comfortable and in the models we drove, offered four-zone climate control. Little touches like the air vents closing and central control wheel descending away when you turn the car off give it a real premium feel, something we've always liked on the XF.
Jaguar XF smart infotainment
The XF range comes with options for a 10.2-inch central touchscreen plus a 12.3-inch TFT instrument cluster screen behind the wheel. These modifiable screens should help to make the consoles of the car future-proof with updates easily sent over the air.
Coupled with the hefty 17-speaker 850W Meridian sound system the car offered immersive audio as well as simple controls.
The InControl Touch Pro system wasn't quite finished, but should be available for those buying the car soon. This system is certainly worth waiting for as it puts Jaguar as a leader in the infotainment world.
The new system will work with a Jaguar app (Android, iOS) to allow the driver to get the car started and warmed up, or cooled down, before entering. It should also make navigation seamless.
Once you've found a route on the app, on entering the car it'll already be set to go. When getting near the destination it'll even offer Approach Mode, with 360-degree views of the area and assistance on parking. Then if there's any walking at the other end, it'll continue working on your phone as you exit the car.
The app can also be used to check the car's locks or download mileage information, ideal for business use. Plus if you want to remotely unlock the car, so someone can grab something out of it for example, that's possible from anywhere too.
This system will have its own apps, as well as working with iOS and Android apps for integrated functionality. It's still early days so we didn't get to see too much here, but we were assured the future will offer plenty of excitement.
The homescreen of the central touchscreen can be customised to suit the driver, not just in terms of colour and images. Widgets and icons can be chosen to create the ideal layout - so a weather widget, music player and navigation bar could all be in one place if needs be. And all this works like a phone with pinch zooming and press and hold to edit controls. The inclusion of Jaguar's Dual View, so driver and passenger see different screens, is a great bonus.
We liked the ability to push the navigation to behind the wheel for the driver while the passenger uses the main screen to choose music.
When in track mode the in-car accent lighting changes to red, as do the driver dials. This also swaps the rev and speed counters so revs and gears are large and central, ideal for track driving. It like Knightrider's KITT going into Pursuit Mode, offering G Force, brake and accelerator use in a graph, plus setup to choose track or road mode for systems like the engine and suspension.
The whole system is connected to the 3G network allowing the car to offer its own Wi-Fi network for passengers. But it'll also connect to a home Wi-Fi network should you wish to update the software overnight, for example. And if the worst happens and a crash results in air bag deployment, the car will automatically notify emergency services and provide them with a GPS location.
Jaguar XF power and smart driving systems
The advanced tech of the Jaguar XF isn't only for the infotainment system. This car is constantly working to offer the best performance too.
On the track in the 3.0-litre supercharged AWD petrol model that pushes out 380PS, it's clear this Jaguar offers more power than most could use on the road. But it was also forgiving enough to let even a novice toy with, optimising power and braking delivery to keep the car on the road even when mistakes are made. Yes we threw if off the track a few times, but it never let us totally spin out.
Taking the 3.0-litre diesel RWD model out on the road right after the track showed that the car was still looking after us. Despite driving on swift bending mountainous roads, the car gave us the confidence to push on and still feel safe. In sport mode this model offered plenty of pull and the rear wheel drive added to the fun that can still be had in a luxury saloon like this.
Jaguar also offers All Surface Progress Control to allow for smooth pulling away on slippery or loose surfaces. We didn't get to test this in our time with the car, sadly.
We did get to use the speed limiter, cruise control (not adaptive in our model, but available), lane departure warning and lane keep assist (to stop drifting outside of road marking lines). Jag has also put in two front-facing stereo cameras for a 3D view of the road ahead to make these systems work. Like other recent models we've seen, it feels like we're only a hair's breadth away from a self-driving car.
The cameras are also used for speed sign recognition, so the dash always had our limit clearly visible. Combined with the Intelligent Speed Limiter the car is able to notify the driver of speed changes and when accepted can speed up or slow to stay in the limit - ideal for avoiding tickets in new areas. Parking assist is also an option.
Jaguar XF buying options
The absolute minimum you'll get away with paying to pick up a 2015 Jaguar XF is £32,300 for the XF 2.0d 163PS Prestige model. The top end is £49,945 for the XF 3.0v V6 S/C 380PS A Auto. But there are plenty of options in between.
While we found the 2.0-litre diesel a little conservative in power, the 3.0-litre supercharged beast had more than we'd use. The 3.0-litre diesel with 300PS offered lots of grunt with comfort too, but at £49,945, matching price of the more powerful petrol, some may choose power over fuel economy.
The new Jaguar XF combines luxury, comfort, technology and plenty of power. But in a world where the Jaguar XJ takes comfort to its limit and the XE offers more compact agility, does the XF still have its own place?
In our experience it certainly does as the all-rounder that offers everything. The BMW 5 Series offers competition in this area, but there will always be those who want to hear the big cat roar.
With the right options, the XF can deliver power and performance blended with comfort and style. It crams in enough technology to make the car not only limit-pushing now but, potentially, preparing it for the future.
But there's always the price. The Jaguar XF starting at £32,000 isn't that expensive for a luxury saloon, reinforcing the fact that Jaguar isn't the preserve of the super rich, but that this luxury is accessible.