2018 Jaguar XF First Drive Review

27 days ago | Sagar Bhanushali

What is it?

Why would I buy it?

Punchy diesel motor, Sleek looks 

Why would I avoid it?

Not as technologically advanced as its rivals 

Model year updates aren’t a new thing for Jaguar Land Rover. The British car giant, in fact, is quick to introduce small design variations or big new features as the New Year approaches. Following the launch of the 2018 Discovery and the locally assembled F-Pace, the brand has rolled out the 2018 model year XF.

The 2018 XF range is priced between Rs 46.45 lakhs and Rs 58.32 lakhs (ex-showroom). What we have here on test is a diesel powered XF in Prestige trim, which represents a sweet spot between the entry-level Pure and the fancy Portfolio variants. From the outside, the 2018 model looks neat and elegant; very elegant! Even though Jaguar has played it safe by taking the evolutionary route with the design, the XF oozes character and evokes emotion – that long bonnet and the XE-like headlamp and grille design are standout styling elements. Additionally, the thick splashes of chrome on the front bumper, window line, the boot-lid and those gorgeous 9-spoke alloy wheels give the XF a premium look in a way that’s elegant but not pretentious.

How is it on the inside?

As you open the door, it’s not difficult to spot the design layout and the materials shared with other models from the JLR stable. Nevertheless, the dashboard is neatly designed with a lot of horizontal surfacing. It even retains the previous gen XF’s super cool start-up sequence which includes a rotary gear selector that rises up from the centre console along with the side air vents that roll up in harmony. 

Theatrical start-up aside, the XF works much better as a family car compared to its predecessor. The front seats are huge and immensely supportive with more than enough thigh support and sufficient bolstering. Similarly, the rear seat is wide and nicely contoured with a deep squab, meaning you sit in it rather than on it. That said, the overall knee room, although better than before, isn’t as generous as the new 5 Series and nowhere close to the long wheelbase E-Class. The 2018 XF can be had with different leather and wood trimmings but in the Prestige trim, you have to settle for the black veneer with black upholstery and leather seats.

The top-spec Portfolio, on the other hand, has better quality leather seats, leather wrapped instrument panel surround and some extra fittings. And while we are on the subject, the XF Prestige gets a fully digital instrument cluster, parking sensors all around, an electric sunroof, climate control and a single colour ambient lighting. The Portfolio trim, meanwhile, adds electric lumbar adjustment, parking assist, keyless entry, configurable ambient lighting and a heads-up display. 

The 8-inch touchscreen display for the infotainment system feels like a generation behind in the competition. It can be slow to react to touch inputs and the quality of the rear camera is mediocre. Even the high-end Meridian sound system doesn’t perform as well as other systems in this segment when it comes to audio quality. To be fair though, you can opt for the Portfolio trim that will get you the incredible 825W Meridian surround sound system with up to 17 speakers. 

Despite its shortcomings, the interior of the XF feels premium and different from the German brigade. It’s well put together and the use of padded materials give it a luxury feel.

How does it drive?

When Jaguar launched this latest version of the XF, the brand also introduced its new four-cylinder, 2-litre motor from the Ingenium engine family. Putting out 180bhp at 4,000rpm and 430Nm of torque between 1,750 and 2,500rpm, it negates its modest capacity by offering strong power delivery that gets noticeably punchy around the mid-range. In terms of responsiveness, there is a hint of turbo lag below 2,000rpm but as you get past it, the engine pulls hard with a deep, satisfying surge of torque. In manual mode, you can go up to nearly 5,000rpm but there is no point pushing past 4,000rpm as the power tapers off by that point. 

The XF is effortless around town. What’s more, the shifts from the ZF 8-speed gearbox are quick yet smooth enough to be indiscernible. Unlike cars with dual clutch autos, this torque converter allows the XF to pick up speed from standstill in a linear manner with no hesitancy whatsoever. However, there is some hesitancy to kick-down in D when you floor the pedal. The gearbox is a little slow to react although you can put the car in Dynamic mode and the gearbox in S for quicker reactions. The Dynamic mode, in fact, sharpens throttle response and makes the gearbox more engaging. With our Vbox timing gear attached, the XF diesel cleared up the 0-100kmph sprint in 9.31 seconds and took 5.39 seconds in 20-80kmph roll-on acceleration, making it fairly quick for its size. What’s more impressive than the outright acceleration though is this car’s cruising ability – the strong midrange and the 8-speed gearbox really allow the XF to stretch its legs on the highway. 

In terms of refinement, the XF is slightly behind the new 5 Series and the E-Class, with more engine noise filtering into the cabin than one would expect. That said, at city speeds, the cabin is hushed enough to have low-key conversations at ease. Also, it presents a resounding balance between comfort and firmness – the steering is surprisingly quick and communicative and the chassis absorbs mid-corner bumps with poise. Although we wouldn’t say it’s simply unfazed by sharp potholes and big bumps, the XF deals with bad roads better than you might expect – thanks to the high profile tyres, the ride quality has a soft edge to it and unlike its predecessor, the suspension can take big jolts without sounding clunky or unnerving. 

Should I buy one?

With its sharp new look, updated features and better rear seat comfort, the latest-gen Jaguar XF can be best described as a dignified offering in a segment that’s subjugated by the Germans. On one hand, the XF impresses big time with its well-proportioned design and all that jazz inside the cabin but on the other hand, it’s not as refined or technically advanced as its rivals. Either way, if you are in the market for an executive sedan at the moment and want something a little different that’s well built and drives well, the 2018 XF diesel is worth a test drive. 

Where does it fit in?

The XF fits between the smaller XE and the flagship XJ in Jaguar’s model line-up. Priced between Rs 46.45 lakhs and Rs 58.32 lakhs, ex-showroom, the mid-size offering competes against other premium sedans including the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class and the Volvo S90. 

 

Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi