AFTER EIGHT years at the crease Jaguar’s called in its XF for a clean-sheet overhaul. Then as part of what may be the world’s priciest diet, Jaguar spent more than £400m (AUD$800m) to have the new XF made at Castle Bromwich, its aluminium-specialising plant that also produces the XJ and F-Type.
As a result, the second-gen XF rolls out of Bromwich’s doors 75 per cent aluminium – just like the XE sedan. However that’s not all it shares with its smaller brother. Its front double-wishbone set-up, adaptive dampers (on S models) and modular platform are all derived from the XE.
Size-wise, Jaguar slipped in 51mm of wheelbase and erased 7mm of length. So the shorter overhangs and wider tracks see the XF fill out its body shape nicely, as if it lifted weights over summer. This translates to its exterior design, as the sharpened headlights and chiselled contour lines give it an aggressive pout.
Thankfully, the XF cashes the cheques written by its brooding new look. With up to 190kg less hanging off its aluminium skeleton, the XF feels agile; wieldy even.
Praise starts with its electrically-assisted steering system. It tracks with great straight-ahead feel on highways, while feeling nicely weighted and accurate off centre.
Jaguar matches the steering to a brilliant front end, too. It is impressive how the XF turns in with almost scything precision, making its nigh-on five metres easy to place.
Discovering how much grip exists at either end will have to wait until we throw the XF on more challenging roads, but Melbourne’s flowing hinterland revealed the XF’s suspension feels a touch floaty over rises and struggles to smooth mid-corner bumps. However, overall it feels controlled and well-resolved.
You can have an XF with four engine configurations, all matched to an eight-speed auto, starting at $82,900 for a 2.0-litre diesel and finishing with the top shelf S’s petrol 280kW V6 we spent most time in.
However, what was a snarling, raucous blown V6 in the F-Type S is a muffled introvert in the XF. Short on brawn or theatre, it feels burdened by the 1710kg-plus it has to carry.
Another gripe lies with the XF’s interior. It’s nicely designed, but until it welcomes Jaguar’s new fully digitised instrument panel and touch-only centre screen in a few months, which it calls InControl Touch Pro, it’ll feel well behind a BMW 5 Series’.
The XF is close to being a four-star car. With a mix of looks, agility and prestige, it’s a warning shot at the German order. But at this price and in this segment it needs to take its interior more seriously and, in the petrol V6 S, its exhaust note less so. Because of that, we suspect it won’t be ’til we experience its new interior systems in a V8-powered R version that we’ll see the XF hit the mark.
3.5 stars out of five
Jaguar XF S Specifications
Engine: 3.0-litre V6, DOHC, 24v, supercharger
Power: 280kW @ 6500rpm
Torque: 450Nm @4500rpm
0-100km/h: 5.3sec (claimed)