First Drive: Jaguar XF

What’s new?

The front exterior of the 2016 Jaguar XF.
The front exterior of the 2016 Jaguar XF.

Here is a future piece of British automotive history. It’s the first time an Ian Callum-designed Jaguar has replaced an Ian Callum-designed Jaguar, and it marks the next step for the car that brought about the most significant brand revolution of modern times.

It’s a few millimetres shorter than before, but the wheelbase of the new aluminium construction is longer. This gives more space for passengers to enjoy the high-spec new cabin and, of course, the signature Jaguar rotating air vents.

Looks and image

The interior of the 2016 Jaguar XF. See PA Feature MOTORING Road Test. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Handout. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature MOTORING Road Test.

Jaguar isn’t going to win any prizes for originality, having largely just transplanted the family face from the XJ and XE straight onto the new car. It’s sweetly proportioned and carries its bulk very well — a neat trick to pull when you can balance size and grace, and the XF does it better than any of its rivals.

In dear old Britain, we’re going to be biased on the image front. It’s a British car built on these shores and, of course, we want to love it. The thing is, the product makes itself very easy to love, regardless of where you’re from.

Space and practicality

An extra 27mm of headroom for rear passengers could be much appreciated by some owners, despite the roof’s peak point resting 3mm lower than the old XF’s. A 540-litre boot with a wider aperture is a winner, beating each of the German rivals.

The back exterior of the 2016 Jaguar XF. See PA Feature MOTORING Road Test. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Handout. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature MOTORING Road Test.

The obvious black mark against the XF is that the interior materials, at least on our test cars. They are so nice that even taking a coffee into it is taking a risk, so if your kids always seem to find a way of making liquid messes, think twice or invest in a very good upholstery cleaner.

Behind the wheel

Buy the 3.0-litre diesel. It’s absolutely immense, pulling like a train at the slightest tickle of the throttle and recording a laughable 1,300rpm at 70mph for epic long-leggedness (in top gear, 2,000rpm doesn’t arrive until 110mph).

Whether you’re on the passive standard suspension or the adaptive, adjustable setup, the XF shows mighty composure through corners, and rides well on the 20-inch wheels fitted to the test cars. You can’t escape the outright weight, despite the savings versus the outgoing model. It’s too close to call between this and a BMW 535d without a back-to-back drive. Dynamically, the Jag is excellent.

The eco-friendly 2.0-litre diesel is (much) less impressive in terms of performance, but ticks the right boxes for running costs. A 104g/km version is an eye-opener. It’s just a shame its stop-start is so comparatively coarse.

Value for money

Depending on whether your heart really desires it or not, the Jag could look like excellent value. If you do want one, go for it and you won’t regret it. If you’re a die-hard BMW, Mercedes or Audi follower, you’ll need to get inside to see just how far the Jaguar brand has come. Prices, on the face of it, are competitive with the best of the rest, and that 104g/km version will turn some heads among company car users.

Who would buy one?

Other than the aforementioned business types, families will get along famously with the XF. At almost five metres long, it’s no nimble town car for nipping around with the kids in tow, but it could serve perfectly as the family’s ‘big car’. Jag expects a lot of buyers to switch from other brands, and it’s not hard to see why once you’re in and around it.

This car summed up in a single word: Classy

If this car was an...: action hero, it would be a Roger Moore-era James Bond. It’s smooth, sophisticated and high on class.