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Automobiles

[REVIEW] 2019 Jaguar XF S

A few years ago, Jaguar was still playing to its old-world aesthetics. The S-Type sedan played on the lavish chrome, the quad circular headlamps, and the traditional leaping Jaguar hood ornament that recalled the British firm’s heyday in the 1960’s. There was no doubt that driving it could make you feel like you borrowed your great uncle’s car.

Exterior

When the XF made it debut in late 2007, its utter rejection of retro design was something fresh, something new, and something the world hadn’t seen before from Jaguar. It was this shake up of some of the design vestiges of the 1950s and 1960s that arguably allowed the firm to move forward with its design language.

The XF has now been in its second-generation platform since 2016. For model year 2019, it gets some improvements in exterior and interior trim, as well as technology, in order to keep it competitive with its European rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5-Series, and Audi A6/A7.

Taking its rightful place between the all-new Jaguar XE compact sports sedan and the full-sized luxury Jaguar XJ sedan, the XF mirrors the evolution of the Jaguar design language with its sleek, coupe-like profile, long hood with deep power bulge, and a short front overhang.

Aluminium underpinnings

It’s well accepted that weight kills all driving fun. That’s why auto manufacturers are forever on a quest to reduce weight without compromising safety.

The XF is the second Jaguar model to feature the brand’s advanced lightweight aluminium-intensive architecture. Aluminium alloys, self-piercing rivets, and structural adhesives are all used in the construction process.

The one-piece aluminium body side stampings contribute to the overall stiffness of the body and also add to surface purity and quality as there are no visible joints.

The hood and front fenders are also aluminium, while the front end substructure and cross-car beams are cast from even lighter magnesium alloys. But the whole car is not just made of aluminium and magnesium. Strategically placed high-strength steel is also hidden away to bolster rigidity and improve crashworthiness.

In all, the XF’s unibody is 75 per cent aluminium and 28 per cent more rigid than its predecessor. Combined with the other weight savings made throughout the vehicle, the all-wheel-drive XF tips the scales a significant 265 lbs lighter than the previous generation model.

Performance, Ride and Drive

When equipped with Jaguar’s Instinctive All-Wheel-Drive system, the XF uses Intelligent Driveline Dynamics to deliver torque on demand for an optimum balance of performance and all-weather capability. Perfect for Canadian weather whether it’s snowy Newfoundland or rainy Vancouver.

Particularly in the higher powered “S” trim line such as with my test vehicle, the XF will satisfy most drivers’ expectations of how a luxury sports sedan should ride, handle, and steer. Comfort and refinement are combined with excellent agility and responsiveness. The light yet exceptionally stiff body delivers a near 50:50 weight distribution. Good enough to rival the best from Bavaria.

The XF is available with Jaguar’s 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder diesel, as well as a 340hp or a 380 hp supercharged gasoline 3.0L V6. The latter two engines are also shared with the company’s F-Type coupé and roadster. The only gearbox available is ZF’s excellent and quick shifting 8-speed automatic transmission, helping the XF to deliver an exceptional driving experience.

When equipped with the 380hp supercharged V6, the XF S is capable of covering the 0-60 mph (96 kph) sprint in 5.1 seconds on its way to an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph. Incidentally, this engine is abundantly used in the Jaguar Land Rover line-up, making its appearance in the Range Rover Sport, full-sized Range Rover, as well as the Land Rover Discovery.

As one can imagine, when this powertrain is fitted with a lighter vehicle such as with the XF, power is plentiful. The performance is silky smooth and abundant almost anywhere in the rev range. Wind the engine up to the higher RPMs, and you can even hear a bit of supercharger whine. Not enough to be annoying, but just enough to hint at the vehicle’s sporty Jaguar pedigree.

First developed for the Jaguar F-Type, Configurable Chassis Dynamics are also available for the XF S, taking the duality of character of the XF to the next level.

This driver-selectable computer controlled system allows the driver to individually tailor the throttle mapping, transmission shift speed, steering feel, and Adaptive Dynamics settings using the Infotainment system’s touchscreen.

As expected in this mid-sized luxury class, a host of cutting edge technology is included or optionally available including full-LED headlamps, a laser heads-up display, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with queue-assist, lane keeping assist, and semi-automated parking assistance. A virtual cockpit dash (a la Audi) is also standard equipment.

On the inside

The XF’s wraparound wood trim lip that runs below the windshield is a beautiful touch. It seamlessly ties together the dash to the doors and gives a cabin a cosy feel to it. The thick rimmed leather steering wheel signals the car’s performance capability, but I do wish that at least in XF S trim, it was available with the flat bottom, just as in the F-Type.

With four-zone climate control, heated/cooled front seats and 10-color ambient lighting, all controlled via the firm’s new and much improved InTouch Control Pro infotainment system, the all-new XF reflects the standard for interior luxury and design for Jaguar. More on the InTouch system later.

The rising Jaguar Drive gear selector and motorised air vents are carried from the previous-generation model, and add a sense of pantomime to the starting process, especially now that the car also adopts the beating heart beat Start/Stop button. It may be a little kitsch for some, but these little touches of surprise and delight help to set the XF apart from its competition.

As mentioned earlier, for 2019, the XF’s InTouch Control Pro Infotainment system has received a updates in user interface. The fonts and colours are significantly improved and the whole user experience feels a lot more seemless, upmarket, and in-keeping with the luxury experience.

That being said though, the system is still a bit laggy at times, and there are still a number of odd UI/UX faux pas particularly when it comes to the 360 degree surround view cameras.

Why Jaguar’s designers decided to design such a small graphic for the top-down view is a bit of a head scratcher. Moreover, one needs to push a couple of buttons in order to switch between the different views, when clearly a split screen view of a couple of different angles would’ve been more usable and convenient.


A longer wheelbase than the previous generation XF means additional rear leg, knee, and headroom inside, while the shorter front overhang emphasises the car’s sporty, rear-wheel-drive biased stance These are all outstanding proportions characteristic to all Jaguar vehicles.

The rear bench also features a 40:20:40 split, making it easier to through-load bulky items such as skis or snowboards. As expected in this class, the trunk lid also features an optional power open/close function.

But Jaguars have always been a bit more on the svelte and or snug side compared to their Teutonic counterparts. Has this changed? Is the XF as roomy as its competitors?

In short, no. The 5-Series Sedan still has 3.8 cu. ft more total passenger volume than the XF, including 1.3 inches more front headroom and 1.8 inches more front shoulder room. The BMW’s trunk also has a volume advantage with the rear seat up at 18.7 cu. ft versus the XF’s 17.8 cu.ft. If absolute space is important to you, be sure to take a closer look during your test drive.

Final thoughts

Elegant and handsome, the 2019 XF X delivers sophisticated levels of technology, refinement, luxury and comfort combined with drop dead 007-approved styling. Jaguar has done a good job transforming the XF into a mini XJ with its V6 power and sporting luxury.

For those looking for a mid-sized European executive sedan without having to go the typical German or Japanese route, this is one cool cat that is worth checking out, so long as it meets your space requirements.

Andrew Ling
Andrew is a proud car and tech geek who has worked in Surrey for over the last 10 years. He comes from a communications/marketing background and has worked for automotive-related companies such as Edmunds.com, BenzWorld.org since 1999. From track driving, to rally driving to autocross, he has done it all! When he’s not reading about the latest automotive news, he can be found outdoors snapping pictures at various events around town.
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