2018 Jaguar XF
Jag’s XF gets 2.0L turbo power, loses some growl but gains agility.
Styling, handling, exclusivity
Wonky iPhone pairing
Value for money
What would I change?
Soften the seats, real metal paddle shifters
How I would spec it?
Light hues both inside and out
As might be expected, the recently released F-Pace SUV has vaulted to the top of Jaguar’s sales charts, but if we delve into Jag’s history, the essence of this British marque is underpinned by a steady parade of posh, pretty and performance-oriented boutique saloons stretching back to the mid-1930s.
The 2018 Jaguar XF Prestige 2.5t sitting in my driveway certainly waves that flag, hunkered over its 19-inch alloys with a svelte, sinewy elegance, although I would caution that dark hues mute the XF’s subtly sensuous lines to near anonymity. Still, a lovely car, and one that offers an intriguing and perfectly viable alternative to the default Germans that dominate this segment – the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
For 2018 the Jaguar XF joins the 2.0L turbo four-cylinder brigade in a big way with the adoption of Jaguar’s fresh in-house 2.0L Ingenium turbocharged, gasoline-powered four-cylinder – this joining the diesel version of the Ingenium that was available last year. Jaguar has also implemented an obtuse badging system that is somewhat… um, Germanic.
So let’s decode the 2018 XF’s alpha-numeric trunk puzzles.
The XF 20d ($60,900 start) carries a 180 hp, 318 lb.-ft. 2.0L turbo diesel four. That’s pretty straight forward. This tester is the new entry level 25t ($58,900 to start, although here in $63,700 Prestige trim), and this badge tells us it uses the Ingenium 2.0L turbo petrol with an output of 247 hp and 269 lb.-ft. of torque. Next up is the 30t at $61,400. No, it’s not the carry over 340 horsepower 3.0L supercharged V6, but a more potent version of the turbo four-pot making 296 hp and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. For 2018, the only XF with a 3.0L supercharged V6 is the 380 hp XF S at $74,500.
Standard on all Canadian XF models is an eight-speed ZF-sourced automatic transmission with paddle shifters and Instinctive All Wheel Drive, featuring a sporty 68 per cent default rear drive bias. Selectable drive modes include Rain/Ice/Snow, Eco, Normal and Dynamic.
The Jaguar XF has a fantastic chassis – one that its competitors could do well to study. And even without the optional adaptive dampers, this 25t tester displayed an impressive blend of ride compliance and taut body control. The sedan is beautifully balanced and light on its feet, helped along by electric steering that feels accurate and naturally weighted. You really can have fun flinging the XF 25t down a winding road, yet it also shows fine highway manners, tracking straight and true with impressively little wind noise.
No doubt this new Ingenium turbo four helps with the cat’s agility – it is 54 kilograms lighter than the 3.0L supercharged V6 is replaces, and that folks, makes a whack of difference when nosing into tricky bends and negotiating quick transitions. It’s good little engine too, being eager to rev and delivering the goods with nary a whiff of turbo lag. Granted, it doesn’t sound particularly Jag-like, and that is a bit disappointing, mainly because most Jaguars of late (six or eight cylinder) have sung a heavenly song.
Fuel economy for the 25t is pegged at 10.1 L/100 km city, 7.2 hwy and 8.8 combined, versus 12.0 city, 8.4 city and 10.4 combined for the outgoing 340 hp 3.0L supercharged V6. Premium fuel is recommended.
As with all Jags, the cabin feels intimate. A design feature borrowed from big brother XJ is the Riva Hoop – a narrow architectural detail that sweeps across the top of the dash and flows into the door panels. The centre console is deliberately high to increase the cossetting factor. Says design director Ian Callum, “You sit in a Jaguar, not on it.”
Press the pulsating red starter button and you are treated to a bit of theatre – the dash vents open like mini garage doors and the rotary gear selector (an ergonomic success, by the way) rises Phoenix-like from the console. Everything looks rich and is built to a high standard, although the front seats are on the firm side, and I wish Jag (and Land Rover) would ditch the flimsy plastic shift paddles for some proper metal ones.
With its high beltline, low roofline and thick A-pillars, great outward visibility is not one of this car’s virtues, but the driving position is spot on.
You’ll want the $2,550 Vision Package (adaptive LED headlights, emergency braking, blind spot monitor, reverse traffic monitor, lane departure warning), and upping the ante here is the $3,170 Technology Package that bestows JLR’s latest InControl Pro 10.2-inch touchscreen (up from eight inches), a configurable main instrument TFT screen and to-die-for 825-watt Meridian audio. The screens graphics are good and response time is quick, but certain things like accessing seat heater controls and basic radio functions require too much distracting screen poking. This is certainly not unique to Jaguar in our smart-phone obsessed age, but why the XF would not automatically pair with my iPhone every time I returned to the car is just a bit too weird-British-glitchy for my tastes.
Ah, but I can forgive this swift, sensuous feline a few foibles for what it does offer, and that is a delightfully engaging luxury driving experience (dare I say even analogue?) wrapped in an alluring aluminum skin. While its German counterparts are frantically one-upping each other with semi-autonomous this, gesture-control that, and all manner of digital trickery, the Jag XF 25t cuts its own deeply satisfying path. And while Jaguar might be not particularly thrilled that XF sales are a fraction of those Swabian mainstays, its near boutique status ensures a degree of exclusivity for those who dare to be different.
Type of vehicle
AWD mid-size luxury sedan
2.0L Ingenium turbocharged four cylinder
247 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 269 lb-ft of torque @ 1,200 rpm
Eight-speed ZF manumatic
Four wheel disc with ABS
Price: Base / As Tested
$58,900 / $69,830
Natural Resources Canada Fuel Economy
(L/100km) 10.1 city, 7.2 hwy, 8.8 combined
19-inch alloys, sunroof, brake activated torque vectoring, 10-way front seats, driver seat memory, 825-watt Meridian sound, heated steering wheel, auto-dimming rearview mirror, 8-inch touchscreen, navigation, USB, front/rear park assist, proximity key with push button start, emergency brake assist
Vision Package, Technology Package, heated windshield with heated washer jets