Jaguar updated its XF model in 2015 with sharper lines, pulling this car first released in 2007 into a more modern perspective. The XF sits above the XE in the range and the difference inside is obvious: although both offer similar exterior design and comparable levels of interior luxury, but the XF gives you a lot more space, especially in the back seats.
Like the BMW 5-series or Audi A6, this is a mid-sized executive car, with Jaguar doing an awful lot over the past decade to more Jag from a brand that carried with it the reputation for being a little staid - "old man's car" was the perception - into something that vibrant and exciting. Jaguar is now less about John Prescott and more exciting for it.
While the F-Pace has been a tearaway success in this regard - perhaps against all expectations - and the F-Type is turning heads, the refreshed 2018 Jaguar XF is stronger than ever and more than capable of holding off those German rivals.
Jaguar XF design decadence
Exterior design is where you really cut your chops in the saloon game. The original Jaguar XF got rather dated, running from 2007 through to 2015, before it changed pretty much to this latest guise. In the newer 2018 version, the big changes are under the skin rather than on the surface, but we're ok with that.
The XF cuts an impressive stance on the road, especially when fitted with the optional 19-inch wheels pictured here in black (at £1255); proportionally, the XF just looks right, with the sharper bonnet creases adding some muscularity to a car that was previously a little soft in looks. Dropping the original rounded lights played a big part in this, for a much more modern look.
Where this car really succeeds is in space. There's adequate space in the rear seats without knocking your knees, even with a big driver in the front. At the same time you still have 540-litres of luggage space in the rear. Once upon a time it might have been a cliché to suggest you could fit your golf clubs in there, but we get the sense that Jaguar is moving on a little. You could fit a family's luggage in there, so let's go with that instead.
The R-Sport (pictured) sits in the middle of the line between Prestige and Portfolio trim, giving you a sporty look with extra bodywork that we think helps it square up against rivals. Front bumper changes, sills and a small boot spoiler gives things a lift, leaving the impression that this big cat means business. Not business business, but the business, you see?
Jaguar XF interior
If you're going to pry a happy Audi driver out of the A6 saloon, then you have to deliver on the interior. The XF has plenty of luxury touches across its interior, although the design is slightly more conventional than the XE's interior (we really like the curves running into the dash, it looks like something from a boat). As we said, there's of shortage of space.
There are still some novelty items. The autobox controlled by the elevated dial is a bit of fun (and not uncommon) although one of the things changed between the original design and this latest version is the mass of rotating air vents, which used to dominate the centre of the dash. There are some slightly plastic parts, which some rivals have attempted to squash away through interior sculpting, although everything is a high quality to touch, including the leather that's liberally applied.
The R-Sport model gets sports seats, although they're not as sporty as some which we like. It's more a hint at athleticism rather than a full-out Usain Bolt of a seat. What that means is plenty of comfort and sophistication which is what you want. Much of the centre console lends itself to controlling the interior climate, where you have physical buttons, as well as choices through the InControl touchscreen system. This is something of a best of both worlds: it's not cluttered with buttons, and you can get to what you want easily.
You might miss controls nestled behind the drive select dial, because they don't really fall into the eye-line when driving, and it's these that will give you some of the more exciting controls over the car's dynamics - more on that later.
The lasting impression of the XF's interior is exactly what you want it to be. There's the distinct sense of quality. It's quiet and refined in the driver's seat, cosseted by the plush interior, and it's equally rewarding sitting in the back too. It gives you space that the XE doesn't, but keeps things surprisingly affordable at this size, without stepping up to the max luxury that the XJ offers.
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, which is where things start to get thoroughly modern. Audi might be stealing headlines with its Virtual Cockpit, but you can have your Jaguar XF similarly equipped if you're happy to step up to the InControl Touch Pro system.
The standard is a 8-inch touchscreen display flanked by major buttons that could pass as rather dated, which makes Touch Pro more enticing. Pictured here is the top of the line version, with 825W Meridian surround sound system. That option sounds fantastic, but will set you back an uncomfortable £2670. However, you can get Touch Pro with a 325W Meridian sound system for only £1780, which is a little easier to swallow.
It's smart bundling by Jaguar and one that works for gadget fans too, as you're getting boosted sound and more techy options on your car in one fell swoop. InControl Touch Pro is a nice system to sit behind, presenting four major sections to access areas of the car - climate, phone, navigation and entertainment. Naturally there's Bluetooth and DAB, but also the inclusion of USB so you can connect a device for media or your phone, to give you access to stored music, or use the 10GB of onboard storage.
Not only that, but it brings navigation with it too, which can be displayed on the central display or on the driver's display.
InControl Touch Pro is easy enough to use, letting you swipe through screens to access other information drawn from the car itself, like the dynamics reports when in dynamic driving mode, or your eco credentials. Yes, the Jaguar XF will judge you on your efficiency, so that you can make efforts to improve your performance behind the wheel.
Switching to dynamic mode will change the digital driver's display red so that you know you're in business (not business business ... you get the idea), as well as letting you leaf through information using the steering wheel controls.
Jaguar XF power and smart driving systems
Now we come to the real meat of the updated 2018 Jaguar XF sandwich, which is the new Ingenium engines that it offers. For those not in the know, Ingenium really just means a lighter, more efficient, future-proofed engine design and in the new XF there are 200 and 250PS petrol options added, alongside a new 240PS diesel engine.
That means there are actually 13 options, considering you have manual or auto options, as well as rear wheel drive and all wheel drive, with only about £2000 difference when taking the AWD option. If you're planning to tow your caravan jetski, or just get the most from the power on slippery roads, then AWD is an attractive option. Reports from Audi and BMW suggest that Quattro and xDrive are both doing stormingly well.
Nudge the starter button and it's heritage refinement that you get from the Jaguar, rather than sporty noise. The R-Sport version comes with sports suspension as standard, but thanks to the customisable dynamics of the car, you can let it drive you like a Jaguar should, easing away the bumps for a soft and comfortable ride. From first impressions, the new engines aren't too noisy either; the 240PS diesel's twin turbo makes it a little racier than the petrols, hitting 62mph in 6.5 seconds, and returning a (reported) figure of over 50mpg, with CO2 emissions as low as 139g/km on the rear-wheel drive option.
In the standard driving mode the automatic box can be a little lazy, taking its time to get you going as though there's a slight disconnect between putting your foot down and things responding. This gives you a smoother drive once you've got used to it, but the XF also now offers optional configurable dynamics. It's a £225 option, but will let you go through and select how you want the engine, gearbox, steering and suspension to behave (pictured above). If you want faster gear changes and a more immediate response, you can set those to dynamic, for example, and leave the rest at normal.
These options do make quite a difference to how the car drives and there's an automatic version of this system too that will make changes based on how the car is driving, although on this R-Sport model that's an £820 extra.
Generally though, the Jaguar XF is a fun car to drive. It's nimble enough to handle the twisty and turny roads with the skill needed for its size, but will also let you kick back and enjoy the refinement of a soft and sedate right, perfect for when you're driving your mother to the theatre, giving her the luxury she deserves.
Sitting between the sportier and more compact XE and the height of luxury that the XJ offers, the XF is the more practical of the bunch, affording you the space you'll need in the back seats if you seriously plan on carrying passengers in comfort for any length of time.
It's not that expensive either. For £32,000, you can access to the smaller diesels, but these newer engines will see you needing £35,000, about the same price as the BWM 5-series starts at. The new Ingenium engines offer compelling power options, giving the Jaguar XF a little more pep and performance and dressed in the R-Sport livery, you'll see prices closer to £40,000.
Keep an eye on the options though. The base spec will bring you leather seats, LED mood lighting, the 8-inch InControl Touch system, Bluetooth, navigation, InControl apps and a whole lot more, but things can quickly soar. That's one thing this car has in common with it's German rivals.
More than ever the Jaguar XF feels like it has a lot to offer, Not only in terms of good looks and a good drive, but in the tech features you can add too. It certainly earns its place on the road.