Ready to pounce
The XF has always faced a bit of an uphill battle to impose itself. It’s competing against some of the finest saloons in the world from the behemoths that are BMW, Mercedes and Audi.
The styling is typically Jaguar. To these slightly impaired eyes the front end is reminiscent of the larger XJ – no bad thing in my opinion – while round the back the F-Type’s influence can be seen in the light clusters’ curved elements.
The seats are comfortable and supportive, and it’s easy to find just the right driving position.
There’s plenty of legroom in the front – it’s probably what an estate agent might describe as deceptively spacious - it’s just a shame that the same can’t be said for the rear. I don’t doubt there would be stiff competition for that front seat among passengers over six feet. Headroom isn’t overly generous either, but then that’s the price you pay for such a svelte, sweeping profile and, in my opinion, it’s a bargain.
The dashboard curves elegantly around you, creating an intimate space that helps make the car feel much smaller than its five-metre length.
The analogue dials in the instrument binnacle have been replaced with a 12.3in digital display that can be configured to show either driving data or sat nav info.
The 10.2in Dual View touchscreen (£615) mounted in the centre of the dashboard suffers from the same lag that has plagued Jaguar’s multimedia efforts over the last few years. There has undoubtedly been a marked improvement – and the company’s Touch Pro duo system that is slowly filtering down into new models from the Velar is by far the most promising upgrade to date – but it is still some way behind the competition.
The sat nav – which I found to be both reliable and idiosyncratic – as well as the excellent audio system and Bluetooth are all accessed via the touchscreen.
Although there’s no Android
Auto or Apple CarPlay the XF does offer some connectivity via the suite of InControl apps. According to official figures, the sprint to 60mph takes 6.2 seconds and the XF feels every bit as quick as those figures suggest. In-gear acceleration feels particularly impressive, inspiring confidence when overtaking. The eight-speed auto box is ideal for cruising, the gear changes smooth and unobtrusive.
The XF feels wonderfully agile and the suspension keeps the car planted during cornering, there’s little body roll to complain about. The deliciously quick steering and strong front end grip means that the car is eager to tackle bends.
The boot provides 540 litres of space for your luggage (500 with a space saver fitted) or 963 litres with the rear seats folded (923) although, because of the steeply raked rear windscreen, the boot opening does restrict the size of the items you can actually carry. As tough a battle as the XF faces imposing itself on its German rivals – and making a lasting impression in the collective conscience of the car-buying public – it makes a strong case for a place at the top table.
It lags behind a little on interior quality and its
Teutonic rivals also offer slicker and cleverer in-car technology but its engaging chassis and compliant ride are as good as anything else it its class.