Jaguar has turned up the heat in the mid-size luxury segment in India by introducing the latest iteration of its XF sedan. It’s sharper and meaner looking, has new interiors and gets a brand new high-tech diesel engine. But wait there is more as it has gone through a weight-loss program, which will surely improves dynamics as well as efficiency. It all sounds good, but has the carmaker done enough to prep up this four-door sedan to go up against its established rivals? To find out, we drove the petrol variant in the top-of-the-line Portfolio variant and the diesel in the entry-level Pure trim.
Although Jaguar might have used an evolutionary approach in terms of design, under the skin the second generation XF is brand new. It uses a similar platform which also underpins the smaller XE and the recently launched F-Pace. Despite being around the same size as the outgoing model the new XF is nearly 190kg lighter thanks to extensive use of aluminium in its construction.
And even if it retains the predecessor’s overall shape, thankfully there are numerous touches to set both apart. The Portfolio version (red) boasts of new adaptive LED headlamps, while the Pure trim (white) has to settle with a projectors. The ‘J’ blade LED DRLs look fantastic and the sharper front bumper gets chrome slats underneath. On to the sides, you'll notice the 17-inch alloys for the Pure trim. However, it's the 18-inchers on the Porfolio that look more appealing. At the rear, it looks too similar to the XE with updated tail lamps.
As soon as you press the push-start button on the centre console, you are welcomed by some familiar theatricality. The gear lever rises from the console and side air-con vents rotate open. Thanks to the electrically adjustable front seats it's easy to get into a comfy driving position. In fact, with the Portfolio trim you get 14-way adjustable seat, which includes squab and side bolstering to further aid comfort. It also benefits from brown tan leather as against the black upholstery in the Pure trim. The latter isn't bad, but the former adds to a bit more lavish feel.
Now with the new platform, the wheelbase has increased by 51mm, translating into an additional 15mm in legroom and 24mm in knee room according to Jaguar’s claimed figures. Also, headroom has increased by 27mm at the rear making the cabin feel spacious. The rear seat is wide and comfortable for three passengers. However, being a rear-wheel drive car, the protruding transmission tunnel makes this a strict four-seater only. Although comfortable on its own, the back seat experience still can’t match the likes of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class or even the BMW 5-Series.
The overall feel and quality of materials in the interior feels rich, which makes the new car’s cabin feel a lot more upmarket than its predecessor. The fit and finish has definitely gone up a notch, but still materials around the gear selector and some of the plastic knobs and switches could have been better made. We would have also preferred rotary knobs for the air-con controls instead of the small buttons you have to use to operate them.
As far as equipment is concerned both the variants we had on test were fitted with six airbags as standard. The base Pure trim though misses out loads of luxury features which you come to expect of a car at this price. The Portfolio trim on the other hand is fully loaded. It boasts of a HUD (heads-up display), 12.3-inch fully TFT instrument cluster and ambient lighting to have an edge over the entry-level variant. Unlike the dated looking analog instrument cluster in the Pure, the one in the Portfolio shows maps and other important functions. Though helpful it isn’t as innovative or as intuitive as Audi’s virtual cockpit. The 10.2-inch touch screen on the Portfolio trim is a huge jump over the old pixelated unit which is still there on the Pure trim. The new one dubbed InControl Touch Pro infotainment system has good haptic feedback and is easy to use. Combined with clarity and responsiveness, this screen connects to the multiple cameras and supports navigation as well. Then the 825W Meridian system just sounds fantastic.
Let's first talk about JLR's new Ingenium diesel engine first. This new 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel mill definitely feels more refined compared to the older 2.2-litre unit. That said, the new one is still clattery especially at low revs. But it does smoothen out on the go and the well-insulated cabin helps further reduce NVH. The power output rated at 177bhp and 430Nm of torque might not seem quite a lot, but it provides sufficient thrust to keep you entertained. This is evident post the 2,000rpm mark where there is a strong surge which helps the car make brisk progress. There are four driving modes - Normal, Eco, Rain and Dynamic, which alter the response for the throttle, gearbox and steering. Eco and Normal is best suited for city commutes as the gearbox upshifts early to help you make smooth progress. Shift to Dynamic however, and the XF shows off the traits of the strong engine to deliver a good dose of power whenever needed.
But, if you are after performance and love driving, then the petrol XF is the one to go for. It feels more powerful because this 2.0-litre turbocharged power plant belts out 237bhp of power and 340Nm of torque. It is a punchy motor throughout the rev range and visits to the redline are greeted by a refined snarl from this turbocharged unit. Thanks to this, the XF petrol sprints to 100kmph from standstill in 8.38 seconds and eventually reaches its top speed of 248kmph with ease. The engine is refined and quiet unless you are revving it heavily; which most of the times you will. You will love to get the maximum out of every gear with the S mode allowing you to rev till 6,500rpm. That’s when the engine becomes audible, but still has a good note. The eight-speed transmission in both models works smoothly and gives a great sense of precision while changing gears. However, there is a slight delay in downshifting and we wished it was calibrated to deliver gearshifts with a little more immediacy. Nonetheless, paddle-shifters come to the rescue and in this mode the gearbox will downshift or upshift whenever you want it to.
Thanks to the extensive use of aluminium in its construction, the XF is considerably lighter than its predecessor. The car’s straight-line stability is good, but it is in the bends where the XF shows off its expertise. It is keen in taking corners without much body roll and there is loads of grip from the sticky tyres to further give you confidence to push it. The brakes are progressive and have a good bite to quickly stop the car too. The ride at high speeds feels flat too which makes it a great long distance car. On the flipside, at low speeds the suspension feels a bit noisy especially while going over sharp edged obstacles. But this trait is true to most of the new cars which come shod with lighter aluminum components for their suspension. Clearing speed breakers also wasn't an issue. Plus the light and accurate steering makes driving within the city easy, while it weighs up nicely at high speeds.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||177bhp @ 4,000/ 237bhp@ 5,500|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||430Nm @ 1,750/ 340Nm @ 1,750|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||66/74|
|Tyre size||235/55 R18|
|18-inch double-spoke alloy wheels||Yes|
|Different driving modes||Yes|
|Heads-up Display Unit||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||177bhp @ 4,000/ 237bhp@ 5,500||190bhp @ 4250|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||430Nm @ 1,750/ 340Nm @ 1,750||400Nm @ 1750|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||66/74||55|
|Tyre size||235/55 R18||245/45 R18|
Jaguar has paid good attention to the engine, driving feel and overall dynamics in this iteration of the XF. This has enabled the second-gen XF deliver immense thrills and while still being comfortable. It puts a smile across your face and you would prefer driving this Jag against its rivals. But, if you were to look at the pricing you might stick to your needs and not wants. Even if the XF has improved in every area over its predecessor, the high asking price is bit of a downer. Priced in between Rs 49.5 lakh to Rs 62.1 lakh (ex-showroom New Delhi), thanks to it being a CBU, the XF is the most expensive in its class. This makes Jaguar’s job all the more difficult of making this sedan a success. So the new Jaguar XF is distinctive, great to drive and a comfortable luxury saloon, but is also a bit too pricey for its own good.