2018 Jaguar XF Review

The Jaguar XF is a handsome, luxurious and beautifully balanced big car that is especially rewarding to drive, with a wide choice of engines. Auto braking is standard.

Jaguar XF S 2016 Drive Main Jpg
Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling
Things we like
  •   Comfortable ride, superb steering, engaging engines
Not so much
  •   Options are expensive
  •   Short on auto-drive features

What stands out?

The Jaguar XF is a handsome, roomy and luxurious big car that is especially rewarding to drive. It feels responsive and beautifully balanced, and it offers a wide choice of engines and trim styles. Auto-braking is standard.

What might bug me?

Friends failing to notice you have the latest new Jag. The previous XF sedan made a brave design statement, but this new car has a much more conservative, evolutionary exterior. The XF also looks disarmingly similar to Jaguar’s smaller, and cheaper, XE sedan.

Patronising comments on the interior trim, from owners of some German alternatives. While the XF’s cabin layout makes sense, looks good and is one of Jaguar’s best, the materials, fit and finish aren’t a match for, say, the Audi A6.

Driving at 80km/h on the space-saver spare tyre until you can fix your full-sized flat.

What body styles are there?

Five-seat sedan, which Jaguar calls a saloon, and (from about December 2017) a five-seat wagon, which Jaguar calls the XF Sportbrake.

The Jaguar XF drives its rear wheels. It is classed as a large car, upper priced.

What features does every Jaguar XF have?

Keyless entry and start, which allows you to unlock the car and drive away without removing the key from your pocket or bag. Cruise control.

Dual-zone climate control, which lets you set different temperatures for each side of the cabin.

Leather interior trim, with power-adjustment for the front seats and steering wheel. The driver’s seat remembers your settings, so that you can restore them easily after a companion has driven the car.

A multimedia system controlled from an 8.0-inch touchscreen, with a USB socket and smartphone connectivity. A Meridian sound system with Bluetooth connectivity and music streaming. Satellite navigation.

A reversing camera, and parking sensors front and rear.

Windscreen wipers that operate automatically when it rains. Headlights that turn on automatically when it gets dark. Taillights illuminated by efficient and long-lasting LEDs. A heated rear window, and heated, power-folding door mirrors.

The ability to tailor the sensitivity of the accelerator pedal and the behaviour of the traction control system for different driving conditions, via a button on the centre console. Available driving modes include Eco, Dynamic, Normal and Winter.

Dynamic stability control and traction control systems which can help you control a skidding car. (Every new car must have such a feature.)

A tyre pressure monitoring system that warns you if a tyre is going flat. The spare wheel is an 18-inch space saver.

Autonomous emergency braking, and Lane departure warning.

Six airbags. Anti-lock brakes, and dynamic stability control - which helps you control a skidding car. (For the placement of airbags, and more on Jaguar XF safety features, please open the Safety section below.)

Every Jaguar XF carries a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

Jaguar offers seven engines in an XF. Five are 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbos – three diesel and two petrol. The remaining two are 3.0-litre V6 turbos, diesel and petrol, and are available exclusively with the most expensive XF, the XF S.

The most fuel-efficient are the 2.0-litre turbo-diesels, and the most miserly of those is the least powerful, which Jaguar labels the 20d. It uses as little as 4.3 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined) – which is very impressive for such a big car.

This engine has been available from the launch of the XF in 2016. It is quiet, and free from the unrefined clatter that is common with diesels. In most driving conditions it gives you healthy acceleration and feels like it has more than enough power.

There are two main reasons why you wouldn’t choose this engine. One is that you want significantly more grunt from the other 2.0-litre diesel available, the 25d, which uses a more sophisticated turbocharger to produce about 30 per cent more power – while consuming 25 per cent more fuel on the test.

The other might be that you prefer the cleaner refuelling and even smoother response of a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine, which Jaguar offers in increasingly responsive 20t, 25t, and 30t form.

You can expect that an XF 20t petrol will perform much like a 20d diesel, and a 25t petrol much like a 25d diesel. An XF 30t petrol will be quicker than either diesel.

The 25d diesel, and all three 2.0-litre petrols, began arriving from September 2017 with XFs produced for the 2018 model year. Like the 20d diesel, all use Jaguar’s latest Ingenium design principles. Fuel use on the official test is the same for all three new petrol engines: 6.8 litres/100km.

There is a reason why you might bypass all five 2.0-litre engines, which would be that you want yet more power and smoothness from one of the 3.0-litre V6 engines that Jaguar supplies only with the XF S. Both pre-date Jaguar’s Ingenium designs, but both are at least as strong as the strongest of the 2.0-litre fours. The diesel – called the 30d – is turbocharged, while the petrol is supercharged.

Every Jaguar XF is fitted with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox.

(Power outputs and all other Jaguar XF specifications are available from the Cars Covered menu, under the main image on this page.)

What key features do I get if I spend more?

Jaguar offers the XF saloon at four equipment levels, most of which let you choose from four or more engines. They are Prestige, Portfolio, R-Sport, and S.

The least costly is the XF Prestige, which comes with 18-inch wheels, very bright Xenon HID headlamps, and the features in every XF. You can have the less powerful of the 2.0-litre diesel engines, the 20d, or any of the three petrol engines: 20t, 25t, or 30t.

Spend more for an XF Portfolio and you get seats trimmed in a finer grade of leather, and other more pampering interior trims. A head-up display projects useful driving information, such as your speed and navigation instructions, onto the windscreen, where you can see it more easily and safely while driving. Adaptive headlamps use efficient and long-lasting LEDs, adjust their beams as you turn the steering wheel, and dip automatically for oncoming drivers. There is a power-opening boot lid. Wheels are bigger, at 19-inches, and the tyre profile is correspondingly lower – which sharpens steering response. You can choose the more powerful of the 2.0-litre diesels – the 25d – or any of the four engines available in an XF Prestige.

Choose an XF R-Sport instead and you give up the Portfolio’s head-up display, LED headlamps and powered boot lid in return for a firmer suspension tune – which makes the car react more immediately to the steering, and lean outwards less in fast cornering. You also get a sports body kit, different 19-inch wheels, and several other sporty cosmetic touches. The seat trim pairs leather with a synthetic mesh. And you can choose either 2.0-litre diesel engine or one of the more powerful 2.0-litre petrols.

Spend more again on an XF S and you get a different body kit and red-painted brake calipers. Seats are trimmed in leather and suede, and the head-up display and adaptive LED headlamps return. Adaptive suspension adjusts the car’s ride automatically for the driving conditions, enhancing comfort and control. And you can choose either of the 3.0-litre V6 engines: turbo-diesel or supercharged petrol (but none of the 2.0 engines).

The XF Sportbrake can be ordered only in R-Sport or S trim, and in either case it comes with pneumatic rear suspension that compensates for big loads. In R-Sport you can choose from 20d and 25t engines. As an S it is the 30d V6 diesel only.

Much of the extra equipment supplied at certain trim levels can be added to other XFs as extra-cost options – the head-up display, and Adaptive suspension, for example. You can also option 20-inch wheels and a big range of internal and external trims. And you can have a hands-free boot that opens to a gesture from your foot.

A larger, 10.2-inch, dual-view central touchscreen is available under the label Touch Pro, as is a fully digital instrument cluster that Jaguar calls an interactive driver display. The touchscreen lets the driver and passenger see different screens. The instrument display measures 12.3-inches and is configurable, allowing you to add sat-nav instructions and other useful information alongside the usual dials.

You can also add to almost any XF an Active Safety Pack. It brings you Adaptive Cruise Control, which maintains a safe distance to the car in front automatically (with the help of a long-range radar). A queue-assist component will stop you if the car ahead stops in traffic – resuming if you tap the accelerator. The safety pack also brings you lane-keeping assistance, a blind-spot monitor, and reverse cross-traffic detection (which helps when backing blindly out of parking spots).

On XF Sportbrakes (only) you can order an Activity key, which is a waterproof wristband that can unlock the vehicle, allowing you to secrete the usual key somewhere inside.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

Paying extra for an XF R-Sport improves handling, but the firmer ride also reduces comfort.

Standard colours are black and white. All others cost extra.

How comfortable is the Jaguar XF?

The Jaguar XF is a very comfortable car, and strikes a deft balance between sporty handling and a relaxing ride.

The standard coil-spring suspension feels supple and composed, and does a commendable job of smoothing out surface imperfections and larger bumps. That is partly because it uses frequency-dependent dampers that allow a soft and comfortable ride at low speeds, while firming up to improve control at high speeds. (An extra mechanical valve in the dampers does the job.)

The optional adaptive suspension (fitted as standard to the XF S) uses electronically controlled dampers to do a similar job in a more sophisticated way. However, the standard suspension rides so comfortably it isn’t worth spending the extra money.

The XF’s cabin is beautifully built and spacious, and provides a lot of luxury. The cabin design is logical and pleasing.

What about safety in a Jaguar XF?

Every XF comes with anti-lock brakes, stability control, six airbags, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, auto headlights and wipers, and a tyre pressure monitor. As well, all have auto emergency braking and lane departure warning.

The airbags are in the usual spots: two directly in front of the driver and front passenger; one alongside each front occupant to protect from side impacts at chest level; and curtain airbags extending down each side of the car that protect the heads of all outer occupants from side impacts.

The camera-based auto-braking warns you of an obstacle in front (typically a car that has slowed sharply) and will apply the brakes automatically if you do not react. It is effective at suburban speeds.

The standard lane-departure warning monitors road markings and alerts you if you are about to stray from your lane (perhaps from fatigue or distraction).

An XF Portfolio or S brings you a surround camera system, which helps when parking but can also show on the touchscreen a view from the front of the car – which may show you more than you can see from the driver’s seat.

Available at extra cost on almost any XF is an Active Safety Pack that in adds highway-speed auto-braking in conjunction with the radar-informed Active cruise control. A lane-keeping system adds to the standard lane departure warning: if you drift too close to the edge of your lane, it applies counter-steering to put you back on track.

This package also brings you Blind-spot detection, which alerts you to cars immediately behind you, in adjacent lanes, that might not appear in your mirrors. And it offers reverse traffic detection, which helps when reversing blind from a parking spot – showing traffic approaching from either side.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) rated the Jaguar XF at five stars for safety, its maximum, in April 2016.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

Absolutely. The XF combines its supple ride with masterly handling, and offers responsive and powerful engines. The big cat corners with an eagerness and composure that belies its 1700kg kerb weight.

The XF also has one of the best steering systems in a car of its type. The electrically assisted steering feels sharp and fluid, provides a good sense of connection to the road, and is surprisingly direct for a car of this type. In addition, the electronic stability control has been tuned superbly, and braking is incredibly strong when required.

The focus on handling is helped by an all-new suspension system that comprises double wishbones up front and a complex multi-link system at the rear. As well, this XF is claimed to be significantly more rigid than its predecessor, while weighing nearly 200kg less.

All engines available in the XF impressed when Jaguar launched the model in February 2016. The addition from September 2017 of a more powerful Ingenium diesel and three new Ingenium petrol engines, for the 2018 model year, gives you more options. This article will be amended after reviewers have gained some experience with the new engines.

How is life in the rear seats?

The rear seat area in the Jaguar XF is spacious and comfortable. This is aided by Jaguar having stretched the XF wheelbase by 50mm, compared with the previous generation car.

The seat cushions are deep, and there is a centre armrest with twin cupholders. Rear passengers get dedicated air-conditioning outlets.

There are ISOFIX anchor points for rear child seats.

How is it for carrying stuff?

The Jaguar XF saloon has a large boot at 540 litres – about the same as an Australian-built Holden Commodore. The boot is deep and well shaped, and opens wide – which is useful when loading large objects.

Rear-seat backrests fold 40-20-40, which lets you accommodate long pieces of cargo while optimising passenger space.

Jaguar lists cargo volume in the Sportbrake at 565 litres.

Where does Jaguar make the XF?

The XF is built in the United Kingdom, at Jaguar’s factory in Castle Bromwich.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

If you’re a fan of having cars drive themselves, you might miss the latest autonomous driving technology available in some key alternatives. For example, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class can drive itself on roads without clear lane markings, and change lanes by itself. Jaguar admits it’s a step behind here. Some alternatives have more sophisticated auto-braking systems also.

Another car worth considering is the Audi A6, which offers all-wheel drive across much of its line-up, adding security in slippery conditions. The XF is rear-wheel drive only.

Are there plans to update the Jaguar XF soon?

This second generation began its life cycle in February 2016, offering a single Ingenium diesel engine with 132kW, and pre-Ingenium four-cylinder and V6 petrol and diesel alternatives.

About September 2017, for the 2018 model year, Jaguar replaced its four-cylinder petrol engine with three fresher Ingenium petrols and added a more powerful Ingenium diesel – making most of these available in Prestige, Portfolio and R-Sport XFs. Driver-assistance systems received minor enhancements.

An all-new XF is not likely until well into the 2020s, but you might see a facelift and equipment changes in the meantime.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

There was no obvious weak link in the Jaguar XF range when it was launched in 2016. We recommended the least costly version, equivalent to the Prestige 20d, observing that the new 2.0-litre diesel was the most fuel-efficient engine on offer, and the XF’s well-sorted dynamics meant you lost little handling ability to the more expensive cars.

For the 2018 model year, Jaguar has elected to make multiple engine choices available at each trim level. While the Prestige 20d continues to offer enough of everything to satisfy many people, the possibilities are now abundant for tailoring power, fuel-type, trim and options to your budget and preferences.
Score breakdown
Safety, value and features
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling
Things we like
  •   Comfortable ride, superb steering, engaging engines
Not so much
  •   Options are expensive
  •   Short on auto-drive features


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