Making four-doors fun again
Life’s too short to drive a bland sedan. Jaguar’s mid-size XF is a definite cure for the blahs in the segment, and experiences a mild refresh for the 2019 model year. DARPAN recently got behind the wheel and here’s what we thought of the ride. If you’ve ever seen the vehicle, one of the first things that stand out is how long it is. Sporty details such as a power bulge in the hood, short front overhang, low, sloping roof and sharp creases in the bodywork ensures no comparisons to a boat are made.
“In creating the XF, as a design team we were driven by discipline, the discipline of simplicity. Every exterior line on the XF has a clear purpose — nothing is superfluous,” says Jaguar director of design Ian Callum in a news release. “Achieving that simplicity takes time and requires great determination; it’s all too easy to add lines to a car, but much harder to add character by leaving lines out.” I drove the S trim for the purposes of this review, however a 300 SPORT is being introduced for the first time. A number of exclusive styling changes differentiate the fresh model like a Dark Satin Grey treatment applied to the grille surround, side sills, spoiler, rear bumper valance and alloy wheels.
All XFs receive select enhancements to the cabin. These include a suedecloth headliner (surprise, the buttery-soft material is actually vegan and made from recycled plastic bottles), frameless auto-dimming rear-view mirror, chrome adjustment switches, illuminated door sill plates with “Jaguar” script, and more. The front seats are comfortable and supportive enough to prevent any unwanted flopping around during cornering. I’ve driven my fair share of the company’s portfolio, and am still amused each time the rotary gear selector electronically rises up and the air vents rotate open as soon as the ignition is switched on. A 10-inch display is now standard equipment across the range, the hub of the InControl Touch Pro infotainment system that is adequate although a little laggy to respond to inputs. The absence of a physical knob for tuning radio stations is a bit cumbersome as well, but hey, at least there’s one for the volume.
Another addition for 2019 is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, part of the optional Smartphone Package. Key apps can be opened and manipulated via the centre touchscreen much like on your mobile device, or with voice commands. A benefit of a stretched out 2,960-millimetre wheelbase is lots of legroom for rear passengers, befitting of a true executive car. People in the back are also able to get their own climate control, heated seats and even some window blinds for sunny weather.
The XF handles really well, especially for a big 1,755-kilogram sedan – engineers have employed a few tricks to lighten the load and increase agility. Aluminum and magnesium is used extensively in its construction, and a near 50:50 weight distribution has been achieved. Turn the steering wheel at speed and the vehicle responds quickly and predictably, whether in dry or inclement conditions due to the S’ all-wheel drive system.
Most of the lineup is powered by 2.0-litre turbocharged engines except for the top-of-the-line S grade. Our tester had the 3.0-litre supercharged V6 Producing 380 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, which felt exceptionally fast whenever I really put my foot down. The ZF eight-speed automatic transmission zips through gears seamlessly and without hesitation.
Motor: 3.0-litre turbocharged V6
Horsepower: 380 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 332 @ 4,500 rpm
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
Layout: Front engine, all-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 13.2 L/100 km mixed city/highway (observed)