New Jaguar XF Petrol Review – First Drive
Priced aggressively, the new Jaguar XF is here to compete with the established Germans. Will it succeed?
The new Jaguar XF is a recent entrant in the executive saloon league of established German counterparts. Refreshed styling apart, new XF is now manufactured locally, and is available in 2 engine options with several technological upgrades.
Starting at a price of INR 47.5 lakh (Ex Showroom Delhi) for the Pure variant, to the top of the line, Portfolio variant costing INR 59.5 lakh, the new XF takes on the E Class LWB, A6, S90, and 5 Series. We took the XF Portfolio with the 2.0 petrol engine for a drive to find out if the Jaguar has what it takes to challenge rivals.
New Jaguar XF has been designed on Jaguar’s new Lightweight Aluminium Architecture, which visually is an evolution of its predecessor. It has been touched up with finesse. Design boss, Ian Callum’s team has done well to keep new XF’s lines elegant yet athletic. The big central honey comb grille upfront is matched with headlamps that house LED technology with the signature J blade day time running lights (DRLs). The power bulge in the bonnet asserts its performance intent, and is the most powerful in its class. Sides are flanked by chrome mesh vents underlining its dynamic design language.
When viewed sideways, Jaguar XF gives subtle hints of the eye candy wra around double roundel tail lights. It’s no secret that XF draws strong styling cues from its drop dead gorgeous roadster cousin. It is available in a palette of body colours. We feel the Italian Racing Red our test car came dipped in, does absolute justice to the XF’s lovely silhouette. The subtle lip on the boot lid edge complements dual chrome tipped exhausts surrounded by the rear diffuser. Small yet significant design elements result in a package, which is visually arresting, while smartly masking sheer volume with taut, and elegant flowing lines.
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On the inside, the Portfolio spec wears Siena Tan leather trim that perfectly offsets the Gloss Figured Ebony veneer inserts, and peppering of brushed aluminium through the cabin. Jaguar XF interiors are a balance of rich materials with great build quality, something , we expect from a car in this segment.
Depress the engine start/stop button, and you are greeted by Jaguar’s customary hand shake with the gear selector dial rising up, and side HVAC vents rolling open. The 10.2 inch touchscreen central display with Jaguar’s proprietary Incontrol Touch Pro system is new. The other variant gets an 8 inch capacitive touch screen. This intuitive system remains the command centre for various functions with customizable display options. Our favourite function is ambient mood lighting, which effectively alters in cabin ambience, especially, once dusk sets in.
Straight in the driver’s line of vision is the brilliant 12.3 inch TFT Virtual Instrument Display. The Virtual Instrument Display can be cycled between 4 preset themes or even a full map view, as desired. In the Pure trim, tasteful and classy analogue dials play a part. The Portfolio trim has a Heads Up Display, which is communicative without being distracting. New XF multi-function steering is great to hold, and delivers brilliant feedback – more on that later.
The gripe with the previous XF was space for rear seat occupants. The new platform endows XF with 15mm more knee room and additional headroom by upto 27 mm over its predecessor. The increment may look marginal on papers, but rear occupant comfort is right up there with the best. Seat back angle, under thigh support and leg room is ample, A third passenger would be a squeeze thanks to the transmission tunnel. Front seats offer the right amount of support with the driver seat enabled with 14-way adjust and memory settings. The fascia is a mix and match of various textures and surface finishes. The Light Oyster suede headliner, and panoramic sunroof brings a sense of airiness to the XF cabin.
If the exquisitely crafted interiors have gotten your attention, the 825w Meridian surround system satiates the audiophile in you. Jaguar XF comes with loads of storage space in the cabin, twin cup holders up front, and 2 at the back, alongwith front arm rest with storage compartment that also houses HDMI and USB ports. We’d be nitpicking but the armrest doesn’t shut flush if your phone is connected via cable to the USB port.
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In India, XF is offered in a choice of 2.0l inline 4 cylinder engines, an oil burner, as well as, a gasoline powered one. The 2.0d gets Jaguar’s Ingenium turbo charged, all aluminium construction engine, which delivers 177bhp@4000rpm and 430Nm@1750-2500rpm. We tested the 2.0l turbo charged petrol powered unit which produces 237bhp@5500rpm and 340Nm@1750-2000rpm. Both engines are mated to 8 speed ZF units.These drive the rear wheels, overseen by Jaguar Drive Control system – which alters the responsiveness of the drive depending on mode you select.
The petrol unit boasts of impressive diesel engine-sque torque figures low down the rev range, which helps in pottering around town, and also in traffic. The 237 bhp unit makes XF the most powerful sedan in its class, and delivers performance in spades at the prod of the throttle. The slightly lethargic ZF 8 speed unit plays spoilsport. XF dashes from 0-100 in 7 seconds, and always feels brisk when responding to throttle inputs. Performance is just short of exhilarating, and is massively helped by Jaguar Lightweight Aluminium Architecture. The new XF is a whopping 190kgs lighter than the previous gen vehicle, tipping the scales at 1730 kgs.
This new architecture endows XF with a near 50:50 weight balance making it very engaging to drive. The F Type inspired double wishbone suspension up front and integral link rear suspension with lightweight Aluminium components make for a formidable handling package. XF’s electric power assisted steering is brilliantly calibrated, and offers outstanding feedback across drive modes. XF feels lithe and agile on the move, and the driver can enjoy a bit of celebratory revelry when driving over a twisty section of tarmac.
New Jaguar XF is best served (read driven) in Dynamic mode with gear selector in S that lets you take control of swapping the cogs with the steering mounted paddles. The other modes on offer are Normal, Eco and Rain Ice Snow. Suspension feels compliant, and does not have the harsh edge as some of its European rivals do, despite riding on taller 245/45 R18 tyres.
While 2017 XF boasts the most powerful petrol engine in its class, and potent diesel units at par with rivals, its appearance remains the XF’s biggest USP, and wins hands down, in our books. Not only is design a textbook example of ‘elegance’, but it’s refreshing at the same time. Yes, we would have loved a quicker gearbox to complement the ‘fun-to drive’ demeanor of the overall package. The Germans are a notch better when it comes to interior build quality, but that’s about it.
As with all good things that come with a noticeable price tag, the XF is no exception. Top of the line Portfolio trim in both Diesel (INR 62.1 Lakh) and Petrol (INR 61.85 Lakh) is pricier than its German and Swedish rivals, which could swing the balance in the opposition’s favour. The XF is substantially understated and works perfectly for someone looking at exclusivity over established steadfast competition.