The XF was hyped as the car that would make or break Jaguar - but the purchase of the British luxury brand by cash-rich Indian conglomerate Tata has eased the pressure. Good? Outstanding style ? Bbrilliant interior ? Savages Benz and BMW V8s on priceBad? Rough road ride ? Noise levels need work ? Some equipment shortfalls
Price and equipmentThis is the best looking and most daring Jaguar sedan in many years, conveying a lithe, low presence that is both modern and elegant.In Australia there are four XF models. The 2.7-litre diesel V6 and 3.0-litre petrol V6 retail for $105,500, the 4.2-litre petrol V8 being tested here is $130,500 and the 4.2-litre supercharged V8 flagship is $166,700.There's no shortage of standard gear, including leather upholstery, sat-nav, dual-zone climate control, six-speed auto, keyless starting, powered front seats with driver memory, power steering column adjustment, an electric parking brake, cruise control with speed limiter, six-CD audio, Bluetooth and aux and USB interfaces.The V8's "Premium Luxury" specification means it adds (among other things) metallic paint, 19-inch alloys, a rear parking camera, keyless entry and a softer grain leather. A power sunroof is optional, while a space-saver spare tyre is standard.
Under the bonnetThe 4.2-litre V8 engine is familiar, also serving in the S-Type, XK and XJ. In this case, the double overhead cam 32-valve design produces 219 kW and 411 Nm.Mated to ZF's smooth six-speed auto, the V8's claims are 6.5 secs 0-100 km/h, 11.1 L/100 km combined fuel use and CO2 emissions of 264 g/km. Fuel use on test was 12.2 L/100 km, which means CO2 emissions of 290 g/km.While lacking the sheer shove of the German V8s, the XF still felt nicely strong, producing a woofly (albeit muted) V8 beat from its new exhaust system. It was flexible in its power delivery, the only hitch being a tendency for the auto to mull over throttle inputs momentarily at idle.Using the rotating knob to select a gear was easy enough. Sport mode produced a palpable rise in revs and downshifting support under brakes. Manual shifting was performed via paddles behind the steering wheel but a wide band of torque meant they were usually left untouched.
How it drivesUnderpinning the XF is a development of the S-Type's rear-wheel drive chassis. That's good, because dynamics were widely rated as that car's greatest asset.However, on 19-inch low profile rubber, the XF V8 loses its poise when roads become choppy and coarse. There's too much jarring into the cabin and tyre bump-thump.On smoother roads the XF sits commendably flat, steers and corners with precision, keeps noise intrusions to a minimum and rides calmly.The downside of the XF's glorious exterior is that it limits visibility in most directions, something that hurts when checking for traffic at intersections, changing lanes and manoeuvring in tight spots.
Comfort and practicalityWood trim and leather might suggest a dowdy interior, but swathes of aluminium and some techno features avert that. Fire the engine and a gear selector dial rises out of the centre console while covers on the dash rotate upwards like eyelids to reveal air-conditioning vents. Interior lights turn on at the brush of a hand. The glovebox opens with a finger touch on a proximity sensor. Some clever work has reduced the clutter around the cockpit to a minimum, many tasks accessed by the seven-inch colour screen at the top of the centre stack. The problem here is spending too much time tapping the screen rather than watching the road.The driver gets clean, elegant instruments, reach and rake steering adjust, a sizeable left footrest and plenty of adjustment of the broad and plush seat.The cockpit is divided by a high-rise centre console that includes cupholders and a lidded bin. There are shallow, long door pockets up-front, small bins in the back, dual map pockets and cupholders in the rear centre armrests.Adult rear-seat passengers are quite well looked after, with ample toe, knee and headroom. But the bench is very much shaped for two.The boot, with its narrow opening and shallow floor is traditional Jag fare. A 500-litre capacity is claimed, growing another 420 if the rear seat is split-folded.
SafetyThe XF includes dual front, side-front and curtain airbags, traction and stability control, ABS with EBD and brake assist, brilliantly clear bi-xenon headlights, parking sensors, a reversing camera and a pedestrian-friendly bonnet that angles upward when it senses an impact.As yet there are no independent crash test ratings available.
Overall verdict - Four StarSo much to like here, some things to love and a few things to work on. The XF 4.2 is a visual treat and has an innovative, beautiful and sensible interior. It is also well priced, undercutting the German V8s easily.What it doesn't seem to possess is traditional Jaguar refinement when riding on second-rate Australian roads and sports rubber.So it's best to look at the XF as a good start with the potential to be a great car. Thankfully, it's no last hurrah.
Nuts & BoltsPrice - From $130,500
Engine Size/Type 4.2-litre V8 Power 219 kW/411 Nm Fuel Consumption 11.1 L/100 km What's it got? Six airbags, traction and stability control, ABS with EBD and brake assist, bi-xenon headlights, parking sensors, reversing camera, leather upholstery, sat-nav, dual-zone climate control, keyless starting, powered front seats with driver memory, power steering column adjustment, an electric parking brake, cruise control with speed limiter, six-CD audio, Bluetooth, aux and USB interfaces. CompetitorsMERCEDES-BENZ E500 ELEGANCE From $167,668ENGINE: 5.5-litre, V8; 285 kW/530 Nm; 11.5 L/100 km; 273 g CO2/km. SAFETY: Five-star NCAP crash rating. Front, side and curtain airbags, traction and stability control, ABS with brake assist, Pre-Safe crash anticipation system . WHAT IT'S GOT: Leather trim, six-CD audio, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, powered front seats with memory, Bluetooth, powered steering column, rain sensing wipers, sat-nav, TV tuner, air suspension, powered sunroof. FOR: Brilliant auto; great highway economy; pampering cabin; lush ride. AGAINST: Expensive; handling not as agile as some rivals. OUR SCORE: 4/5
BMW 550i From $170,210ENGINE: 4.8-litre, V8; 270 kW/490 Nm; 10.8 L/100 km; 260 g CO2/km. SAFETY: Four-star NCAP crash rating. Front, side and curtain airbags, traction and stability control, ABS, tyre pressure monitoring, parking sensors. WHAT IT'S GOT: Leather trim, six-CD audio, dual-zone climate control, powered front seats with memory, Bluetooth, rain sensing wipers, sat-nav, TV tuner, sunroof, head-up display, Datadots security, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, rear sunblind. FOR: Lots of performance and not that thirsty, great handling, masses of equipment. AGAINST: You pay for the quality, ride could be better, divisive styling. OUR SCORE: 4/5
LEXUS GS450H From $128,899ENGINE: 3.5-litre, V6; 218 kW/368 Nm; permanent magnet electric motor, 147 kW/275 Nm; 7.9 L/100 km; 251 g CO2/km. SAFETY: Five-star NCAP crash rating. Front, side, curtain and knee airbags, traction and stability control, ABS with EBD and brake assist, reversing camera, xenon active headlights. WHAT IT'S GOT: Leather trim, six-CD audio, cassette player, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, powered and heated front seats, sat-nav, sunroof, alarm. FOR: Brilliant acceleration and economy, equipment list, value pricing, build quality. AGAINST: Electronics cruel chassis performance, storage battery cuts boot space. OUR SCORE: 4/5
Article by Bruce Newton, The Age, August 2, 2008, as appearing on www.drive.com.au
Good? Stunning looks ? Refined and thrifty turbo-diesel V6 ? Agile and supple road manners ? Cabin comfort and ambience ? ValueBad? Average rear headroom ? Some minor safety shortfalls
Price and equipmentThe XF's swoopy, dramatic appearance should impress many people. Not only is it the first Jaguar sedan since 1968's definitive XJ to actually look like a product of its time, it makes rivals such as the BMW 5-Series and Benz E-Class seem positively dowdy.That's akin to grandad ditching the cardigan and loafers for designer jeans and a fluoro hoodie - and pulling off the transformation. Even better, the XF retains the value focus of its predecessor. The base 3.0-litre V6 petrol and 2.7-litre diesel tested here kick off at a competitive $108,350 and get touch-screen satellite navigation, leather, power seats, Bluetooth, CD stacker, keyless start and 18-inch alloys. By class standards, that's a generous serve.Those happy to spend more, meanwhile, can option toys such as adaptive cruise control, heated/cooled seats, TV and integrated iPod connectivity, or plump for the 4.2 V8 and range-topping SV8 models.
Under the bonnetThe 152 kW, 2.7-litre twin-turbo V6 diesel is one of the very few carry-over items from the S-Type. But it doesn't sully the way the XF drives.The Jaguar engine - shared with the Peugeot 407 Coupe - is smaller than rival units and lacks the muscularity of something like BMW's 530d, while turbo lag occasionally rears its ugly head around town.Thankfully, the smooth six-speed auto is adept enough to minimise any negative effects and has handy paddle shifters on the steering wheel for easy manual shifting.Otherwise, there's little to complain about.Straight-line performance is more or less in line with the petrol V6 and it's very relaxed at highway speeds. It's also very quiet and smooth by diesel standards and quite thrifty, too, sipping an average of 8.0 L/100 km on test, or close to the official 7.5 L/100 km claim.
How it drivesWith a good portion of its underpinnings shared with the sweet-driving XK, the XF should drive well, and it doesn't disappoint. It's impressively agile for a big, heavy sedan and entertaining, too, with precise, responsive steering, loads of grip and admirably poised rear-wheel balance.It's no less adept with the wick turned down. The ride isn't quite as luxurious as you'd expect of a Jaguar but if lumps and bumps are sensed they are rarely felt in a rude manner.The XF is also very quiet, with only a touch of tyre roar on coarse-chip roads to disturb the considerable calm.
Comfort and practicalityIf you think the XF's exterior is a surprise, wait until you see the cabin.The gentleman's club ambience is gone, replaced by stark, minimalist design and refreshingly modern materials.Then there's the starting process.Get in and the start/stop button pulses encouragingly. Press it and the dash vents rotate open from their closed positions, while a chunky metal rotary shift knob rises like a phoenix into your palm.A bit silly, yes, but as a means of wiping away Jaguar's past and setting a new, high-tech tone it succeeds brilliantly.Other high-tech features are more functional. The map lights require only a sweep of the hand to turn on and off, while lightly touching a small circle on the wood trim pops the glovebox.The XF's practical aspects are also impressive, at least up front.You sit low on comfortable if slightly flat seats, with plentiful seating and steering adjustment, while the touch-screen operating system is much easier to use than rival mouse-style set-ups. Small-item storage, too, is excellent.There's a price to pay for the slinky coupe-style roofline, though, and it comes in the form of unremarkable headroom for taller back-seat passengers. In light of the bench's pampering qualities and ample leg room, it's a pity.No such issues with the boot, which has a handy 500-litre capacity that expands to 920 litres with the back seats folded.
SafetyWith twin front, side and curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, rear parking sensors, the very latest in stability/ traction control sophistication, a pedestrian-protecting active bonnet and loads of other high-tech aids, the XF's safety credentials aren't to be sneezed at.Yet in missing out on rear side airbags and leaving front parking sensors and tyre-pressure monitors to the options list, it isn't beyond disappointment.
Overall verdictFour Star ****Get past mediocre rear headroom and the 2.7D's slight performance shortfall, and finding serious fault with the XF is a hard task. That's in stark contrast to its many positives, which range from stunning styling and cabin ambience to poised road manners and undeniable value.The XF isn't just refreshing by Jaguar standards, it's a competitive mid-sized package and desirable as well.
Nuts & BoltsPrice $108,350 (auto only) Engine Size/Type 2.7-litre twin-turbo V6 diesel Power 152 kW Torque 435 Nm Fuel Consumption 7.5 L/100 km CO2 emissions 199g CO2/km Standard equipment Twin front, side and curtain airbags, stability/traction control, ABS with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist, rear-parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, power front seats, cruise control, trip computer, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, satellite navigation, six-stack CD player with auxiliary jack, leather-shod multi-function steering wheel, 18-inch alloy wheels.
CompetitorsAudi A6 3.0 TDI Quattro From $103,200ENGINE: 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6. 171 kW/450 Nm; 8.7 L/100 km; 230 g CO2/km. SAFETY: Five-star NCAP rating. Eight airbags, stability/traction control, ABS, parking sensors. WHAT IT'S GOT: Dual-zone climate control, power front seats, six-stack CD player, 17-inch alloys. FOR: Great turbo-diesel V6, classy design, roomy cabin, predictable all-wheel-drive handling, quality. AGAINST: Patchy ride, steering lacks feel. OUR SCORE: 3/5.5BMW 530d From $118,413ENGINE: 3.0-litre turbo-diesel six. 160 kW/480 Nm, 7.5 L/100 km; 200 g CO2/km. SAFETY: Five-star NCAP rating. Eight airbags, stability/traction control, ABS, parking sensors. WHAT IT'S GOT: Dual-zone climate control, power front seats, satellite navigation, six-stack CD player, 17-inch alloys. FOR: Muscular performance, great economy, involving road manners, roomy cabin. AGAINST: Polarising looks, stern urban ride, mediocre cabin storage, iDrive controller a pain. OUR SCORE: 3/5.5
Mercedes-Benz E280 CDI From $106,231ENGINE: 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6. 140 kW/440 Nm; 7.5 L/100 km; 200 g CO2/km. SAFETY: Five-star NCAP rating. Eight airbags, stability/traction control, ABS, parking sensors, tyre-pressure monitoring system. WHAT IT'S GOT: Dual-zone climate control, power front seats, six-stack CD player, 16-inch alloys. FOR: Smooth and efficient performance, brilliant seven-speed auto, comfy ride, pampering cabin, safety. AGAINST: Not the sharpest handler going, lukewarm value. OUR SCORE: 3/5.5
By Cameron McGavin, The Age, August 16, 2008 as appearing on www.drive.com.au
Good• Value • Ride and handling • Refinement • Smooth V8 • AtmosphereBad• Technology masked by old world-style • V8 produces V6-like output • Cabin lacks space • Minor equipment oversights • Odd quality blip inside
Price and equipmentThe XJ 3.5 is $900 more than the cheapest big limo, Audi's A8 3.2 FSI, but is better equipped, picking up GPS, power-adjustable front seats/pedals/steering, sunroof, rear sunblinds, heated seats all round and mammoth 19-inch alloys. You also get a V8 rather than slumming it with a V6.What do you miss out on? Rivals from Benz and BMW get toys such as integrated phones, TVs and DVDs and the Lexus LS460 even more. There's little doubt, too, that the Germans have the high-tech options game sewn up. But you'll be paying upwards of $20,000 more than the Jag to get into them.
Under the bonnetThe 3.5-litre V8 produces 190 kW of power and 335 Nm of torque. They aren't spectacular numbers - Toyota's humble Aurion gets more out of a V6 the same size - and as with many small V8s, you'll be disappointed if you expect the muscularity found in local engines.But it's not all bad news. The smooth six-speed auto has the smarts and ratio spread to disguise any grunt shortfall and the unique J-gate shifter - distinctly untrendy in this age of Tiptronics - makes manual shifting easy enough. Keep the V8 spinning above 3000 rpm and it sprints with genuine enthusiasm.Better than the outright punch is the little V8's superb refinement and delicious, if muted, V8 howl. And while it'll drink about 15 L/100 km around town, it's impressively thrifty on the highway. We averaged 12.2 L/100 km on test, not a match for the official 10.9 L claim but not exactly terrible.
How it drivesA high-tech aluminium body means the XJ weighs much less than you'd expect of an air-suspended luxury sedan packed with toys and safety gear. In the case of the XJ 3.5, it's just 1609 kg, which is a good deal less than even the lowliest Falcon.Apart from endowing it with more than acceptable performance, the light weight has other benefits. The Jag is hugely agile, turning into bends with genuine enthusiasm and confidence-inspiring predictability. Steering is the only real blight; sharp but too light in feel.With those massive 19-inch alloys, the 3.5's low-speed ride can be more reactive to poor surfaces than you expect. But the computer-controlled air springs deliver excellent outright compliance and comfort levels are high. A distinct lack of aural disturbance, whether it's engine, wind or tyre noise, adds to the loping, relaxed demeanour.
Comfort and practicalityThere's little obviously new here but Jaguar hasn't been idle.Redesigned front seats have improved rear leg and foot room. Throw in side and rear sunblinds and rear seat heaters and most will agree there are far worse places to be.Although the XJ accommodates three across the back seat, it lacks the stretching space of the competition. The boot, too, is long but not very deep.Up front, it feels like a luxurious bathtub. You sit low, facing a tall, wood-capped dash, but the leather seats are supportive and the power adjustment of almost everything makes it easy to get comfortable. Visibility is surprisingly good.The Jag also wins points for the user-friendliness of its controls.The touchscreen makes it simple to access functions and results in surprisingly few buttons cluttering the dash.What a pity, then, that those few buttons look cheap, a stark contrast to the generally good materials used elsewhere.
SafetyWith two front, side and curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist, stability/traction control, parking sensors and a tyre-pressure monitoring system, it's not short on safety gear.But it is slightly below par at this level to skimp on side airbags for the back-seat occupants or a rear-view camera. Like the other top-level limos, it hasn't been put through the NCAP crash test regime.
Overall verdict - Three Half StarSharply priced, well equipped and supremely comfortable, the XJ 3.5 goes toe-to-toe with the best in terms of how it drives and, for the most part, technology. Jaguar also has logged impressive results in recent customer satisfaction surveys, so the days of needing one Jag for the road while the other is in the garage have well and truly passed.Still, there are question marks. Some will wrongly assume the familiar look equals old-hat technology, while habitual BMW and Benz buyers are likely to cling to their marques. Unremarkable back seat space, the odd cheap touch and some minor equipment oversights won't please perfectionists.So the updated XJ faces a bit of a battle. But while it's not perfect, there are good reasons for this hugely likeable sedan to rub you the right way.
Nuts & Bolts
Price - $159,900 (auto only). Engine Size/Type3.5-litre twin cam, 32-valve V8. Torque190 kW/335 Nm. What's it got?Two front, side and curtain airbags, stability/traction control, ABS with EBD & BA, front/rear parking sensors, tyre-pressure monitors, two-zone climate, power front seats, power steering and pedals, heated seats, cruise control, trip computer, GPS, Bluetooth, CD-stacker, side-rear sunblinds, automatic xenon headlights with washers, rain-sensing wipers, power sunroof, two 12-volt outlets, four cup holders, 19-inch alloys, immobiliser and alarm, 3 years/100,000 km warranty. CompetitorsAudi A8 3.2 FSI Quattro How much: From $159,000. Engine: 3.2-litre V6, 191 kW/330 Nm. Safety: No NCAP rating. Eight airbags, stability/traction control, ABS, parking sensors. What's it got: Two-zone climate, power front seats, GPS, CD-stacker, rain-sensing wipers, auto xenon headlights with washers, 18-inch alloys, alarm. For: Looks, space, comfort, handling, price, build. Against: No V8, not well equipped, firm ride, woolly steering. Our score: 3.5/5
BMW 740I How much: From $183,000. Engine: 4.0-litre V8, 225 kW/390 Nm. Safety: No NCAP rating. Eight airbags, stability/traction control, ABS, parking sensors. What's it got: Two-zone climate, power front seats, GPS, CD-stacker, TV, DVD, phone, rain-sensing wipers, auto xenon headlights, sunroof, 18-inch alloys, alarm. For: Strong and syrupy V8, agility, comfort, equipment. Against: Divisive looks, confusing iDrive controller, scattered dash buttons, pricey. Our score: 4/5
Mercedes-Benz S350 How much: From $189,874. Engine 3.5-litre V6, 200 kW/350 Nm. Safety: No NCAP rating. Eight airbags, stability/traction control, pre-safe system, ABS. What's it got: Two-zone climate, power front seats, GPS, CD stacker, TV, DVD, phone, rain-sensing wipers, auto xenon headlights with washers, sunroof, 17-inch alloys, alarm. For: More toys and technology than NASA, looks, opulent cabin, seven-speed auto, V6. Against: For this money a V8 would be nice, vague steering, questionable value. Our score: 4/5
By Cameron McGavin, The Age, April 3, 2008 as appearing on www.drive.com.au.
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