Jaguar XF Portfolio 180ps Auto
Revised styling freshens the now-familiar Jaguar grille
- Impressive driving dynamics rival class best
- Large boot means lots of luggage space
- Fantastically high quality of materials
- Excellent residual values make strong business case
- New diesel engine already behind the times for refinement
- Longer wheelbase can make tight manoeuvres trickier
- Sumptuous interior materials vulnerable to damage
- Optional extras are often desirable but usually expensive
Jaguar's XF was the first car to break away from established design trends in order to start fresh and rejuvenate what had become a tired brand. Its long-awaited replacement for the 2016 model year is likewise the first of the family to receive a complete redesign from the ground up.
An essential part of the brief for designer Ian Callum was to make this model shorter than the previous one. The engineers have done just that, if only by 7mm. It's also slightly lower, but has a longer wheelbase to allow more interior space for passengers and luggage. The new dimensions help to disguise the car's size better than before.
Practicality has been boosted with more rear headroom and a larger boot. To add even more logic to its design there is a new diesel engine that Jaguar claims is the lightest of its type, and also one of the most efficient. Despite being almost five metres long there are versions that achieve surprisingly low emissions.
An array of interior materials and optional extras make use of fabled British craftsmanship in order to bring a differentiating factor to the table when buyers are weighing up traditional German options against the Jaguar. Some of the seat leathers on higher-spec models are both stunning to look at and supple to touch.
Jaguar knows that the vast majority of XFs will spend their lives covering high mileages on motorway networks, so has worked hard on extending servicing intervals to remarkable levels. Reflecting the likely usage patterns, only the top-spec S model will have the option of a petrol engine - a 375bhp supercharged V6.
Our verdict on the Jaguar XF Portfolio 180ps Auto
The XF is a compelling car, from its graceful looks to its quality of build and materials and from the on-paper maths to the real-world driving experience. The only weak link in its armour is that the new 2.0-litre diesel engine, while undoubtedly efficient, lacks the last few percentage points of refinement that the car deserves. Otherwise it is a package to challenge for top spot in the class.
Choosing the lower-powered diesel engine brings extremely low emissions for the class, and that will sway many of the business users who are expected to buy into the model. Residual values are due to be higher than for all the XF's rivals, which makes purchasing it on PCP finance easier. Servicing and MOT costs can be streamlined over five years with a very reasonably-priced package deal.
Space and practicality
The 540-litre boot is larger than all of the immediate rivals'. It is evenly shaped and easy to get at, although inevitably an owner will need to lean on the potentially dirty rear bumper to reach bags that are down behind the rear seats. Inside the cabin there is a central covered storage bay with cupholders, plus an under-armrest cupboard. The door pockets are useful and neatly designed.
Controls and display
Most models have analogue instruments as standard, but one of several upgrade options will exchange them for a 12.3-inch digital display that changes according to driving modes and driver preference. It's sharp and clear at all times. A sat-nav unit is integrated into the centre console, and while it isn't the biggest or sharpest screen in the class it does a good job with fresh graphics and an easy-to-use interface.
There is more legroom and headroom for rear passengers than in the previous model, which bodes well for car-sharing business people or families with grown-up kids. Soft leather seats give an immediately satisfying sense of comfort that lasts as the support in the heated and multi-way adjustable front seats takes over. There are 10 degrees of adjustment on Portfolio cars, with less on Prestige and R-Sport models.
Jaguar has not released any information about the security systems on the XF, but an alarm and engine immobiliser are standard. The fuel filler lid locks with the central locking and the saloon boot means that luggage inside is always hidden. The car is not especially ostentatious or noticeable, so may escape unwanted attention for the most part.
Buyers expect a great deal of safety equipment at this level and the XF broadly matches its rivals. It should be noted, though, that some of the most cutting-edge systems are optional; a common theme among executive saloons.
The poise and balance shown by the XF along some of the windiest roads in Europe is an indicator of how far its chassis has come. While the 2.0-litre diesel lacks the outright refinement of the class leaders the car drives with precision and engagement. Its weight is ultimately inescapable in tighter corners but incredibly well set up suspension keeps body roll to a minimum and ensures excellent grip at all times. The larger 3.0-litre diesel is a wonderful all-round performer and offers very low engine speeds at 70mph.
Family car appeal
Families will be a key potential buyer for Jaguar. The spacious interior and large boot make it a very viable choice. It also feels, in high-spec guise, a little bit more special than some other cars in the class, which increases the perceived value for money on offer. On the other hand, the high-quality materials are vulnerable to children's scratching, kicking and food-related messes.
First car appeal
It's unlikely that the XF will be on many young car buyers' radar. It's simply not the right kind of vehicle and costs too much to be viable. The size of it counts against its suitability for novices, too.
Quality and image
The Jaguar image is different in its home country to the rest of the world, but countries with links to British interests or occupations in centuries past tend to look very favourably upon the brand. The big test is the German market, and if the XF can make ground on its rivals there then the company will know it's winning. The perceived quality inside the car is impeccable, from the rising gear selector to the electrically rotating air vents and in all surfaces within touching range.
The front doors are quite long and necessitate care when opening them in parking spaces; even those that are not particularly tight. The seats are mounted at a comfortable height for the class but could be seen as too low by drivers whose preference is for SUVs. The boot lid is easy to open and offers a broad aperture through which to load luggage.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
A Meridian audio system is standard on Portfolio-spec cars, complete with 11 speakers and clever electronic programming that accounts for the different acoustic properties of the various surfaces within the car. There are options to listen from USB devices, Bluetooth, CD and FM/AM/DAB radio. It can be upgraded to a much more powerful 16-speaker Meridian system with even more sound-enhancing technology.
Colours and trim
There are 17 exterior colours, most of which are suitably sober. A bright red is the bold highlight, but in truth the stand-out colour is British Racing Green, which looks almost black in the shade but then reveals stunning multi-coloured metallic flecks in direct sunlight. It needs upgraded, larger wheels to finish the look, though. The interior trim is of universally beautiful quality, with five colour options available for the leather seats.
Front and rear parking sensors are standard on this model, along with a reversing camera. The car is long and wide so care must be taken when parking, but some versions can be upgraded with automatic parking systems that actively measure potential spaces and reverse-park into them with minimal pedal input from the driver. Some car parks will feel too tight for comfort, though.
Emergency tyre repair kit supplied as standard.
Petrol engine options - 3.0-litre (375bhp). Diesel engine options - 2.0-litre (161bhp, 177bhp). Transmission options: six-speed manual gearbox and eight-speed auto. Trim levels: Prestige, R-Sport, Portfolio, S.
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