Jaguar XF — A remarkable remake

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

When you start contemplating a mid-sized luxury sedan purchase your first inclination may be to test drive German brands such as the Audi A6, BMW 5-Series and the Mercedes E-Class. All are certainly worthy of consideration. But we think — after spending several weeks and hundreds of miles behind the wheel of an all-new 2016 Jaguar XF — that you would be remiss not to also seriously consider the English-built car.

If you are familiar with the first-generation XF — introduced for the 2009 model year — you may be surprised that the 2016 model is "all new" because without a side-by-side comparison it's hard to differentiate a '15 from a '16. Jaguar stylists kept an excellent design in place, but with a few nips and tucks here and there. Exterior changes to the eye-catching design are subtle, but effective creating the look of a longer sedan than before. It's a neat visual trick because the new XF is basically the same size as the old XF on the outside.

The thing here is that despite the similar proportions, the 2016 XF gets two more inches of wheelbase, opening up the passenger compartment, and the rear seatbacks can be folded down if more space is needed than provided by the large-for-a-mid-sized car trunk rated at 19 cubic feet — plus the new car is more aerodynamic with a 0.26-cd compared to the old car's 0.29.

And if you think the Ford F-150 has aluminum bragging rights, take a look underneath the bodywork of the new Jaguar. Aside from the steel doors, trunk-lid and the rear floor-pan, the architecture is entirely made up of bonded and riveted aluminum castings and stampings. The weight savings from the use of aluminum are reflected in the car's curb weight, which comes in at a tidy 3,770 pounds. Jaguar says this is a 132-pounds less than the outgoing model.

There is only one engine, the carryover supercharged 3.0-liter V-6, which comes in two sizes — 340 and 380 horsepower — and that may put off some at the outset who are familiar with the three-engine lineup in the 2015 edition including a big V-8. The V-6 produces 332 pound-feet of torque with both horsepower configurations. Jaguar says it plans a wider range of engine choices in the future including a turbo-diesel and a gas-powered turbocharged 4-cylinder. But for the present, the current V-6 offers abundant and competitive performance mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

We were pleased with the capability of our 340-horsepower R-Sport model giving us neck-snapping surges off the line and providing very satisfying quickness in merges and around slower-moving vehicles. This is what we expect of a mid-sized luxury sports sedan and we were not disappointed. A major auto publication has instrument tested the XF 35t R model from 0-to-60 in 5.0 seconds and through a quarter mile run in 13.6 seconds at 103 mph.

The XF is quiet with a pleasing ride, indeed a pleasure to drive whether on boring interstates or through the twists and turns of winding hill country or on rural back roads. It exhibits a light and lively demeanor, an electrifying nimbleness.

The S model 380-horsepower V-6 is just a tick or two faster than the 340 hp engine, but performance is nearly equal. Gas mileage is also equal measured at 20 mpg city, 30-highway and 24 overall. What is not equal is price. You will have to pony up about another two grand for the extra 40 horses.

The XF lineup consists of Premium, Prestige, R-Sport and S — starting at $52,895. The top S trim is $63,695. For people living in cold weather country or for those who prefer all-wheel drive, the Jaguar is available across the lineup with AWD for an additional $3,000. Our rear-wheel drive test car, a 35t R Sport, carried a bottom line of $64,185 with a couple of options including adaptive suspension with electronically adjustable settings.

The interior provides the driver a unique experience, a handsome layout with intuitive controls and a generally easy-to-use eight-inch touchscreen. You are welcomed home when you hit the pulsating starter button as the motorized rotary gear selector rises from the center console and the air vents slowly rotate open. Jaguar’s infotainment interface called InControl Touch is standard on all models and the 8-inch touchscreen responds to inputs quickly, while physical buttons help in switching among the various submenus for phone, media, and navigation.

Overall we think Jaguar did an outstanding job reworking the XF without losing the outstanding styling that set it apart when it entered the marketplace a few years ago.

Base price: $52,895; as driven, $64,185
Engine: 3.0-liter supercharged V-6
Horsepower: 340 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 332 foot-pounds @ 3,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: rear wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 116.5 inches
Length: 195 inches
Curb weight: 3,770 pounds
Turning circle: 38.1 feet
Luggage capacity: 19.1 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 19.5 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 30 highway, 20 city, 24 combined
0-60: 5.0 seconds (Car and Driver)

The Good
• Handsome, well-appointed interior
• Excellent highway gas mileage
• True sports sedan handling
• Loaded with technology

The Bad
• Exterior styling updates minimal

The Ugly
• Only one engine option