Jaguar-XF-V6-61

Sometime in April last year we said goodbye to the Jaguar S-Type sold by SISMA Auto and welcomed the Jaguar XF. While the old S-Type was a modern reinterpretation of the old Jaguar Mark 2 design from the 1960s, the XF can be immediately identified as some kind of downsized Aston Martin Rapide of sorts. It was first shown to the world as the Jaguar C-XF, but like all concepts it was much more fiercer and racier especially at the front with those sleek and slim headlamps that somehow got translated into the fat ones you see here on the production version.

In Malaysia, the XF takes on German rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz E 280 and the BMW 530i, as well as the Japanese Lexus GS 300. At RM 488,888, it has a much higher price than its other rivals which retail at approximately RM 453,800, RM 438,888 and RM 419,444.20 respectively for the BMW, the Benz and the Lexus (some are with insurance some without). But is the XF worth the premium? Perhaps SISMA are pricing it against the CLS instead of the E-class segment.

Read our findings after the jump.

Design

Jaguar XF

Take a closer look at the front end of the vehicle and you can see signs of the old S-Type it replaced. The headlamps obviously started off as a twin headlamps but with another shape interconnecting them, much like what Mercedes-Benz did with the W203 C-Class “peanut” headlamps. The grille is large and square with rounded edges, a more modernised interpretation of the S-Type’s round grille.

Personally I think it would look better with the distance between the front grille and the headlamps minimized. Because of the large gap on the current design, at certain angles the front end may feel a little empty and with a little less presence.

But Jaguar is generous with the chrome on the grille as well as on the bumper sections flanking the main center intake.

Jaguar XF

The coupe-like roofline is said to have been developed using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), which allows the engineers to design it with aerodynamic efficiency even before a model is made and tested in a wind tunnel. The result is a drag coefficient of 0.29 cD, with a front to rear lift balance of zero. The downside is that boot space ceiling is a little low so tall objects may be a challenge (it is however wide) and so is the rear headroom.

So why did Jaguar make such as drastic change to its XF? Well, apparently Jaguar’s current worldwide customer average age are between 10 to 15 years older than the average age of a typical BMW customer, and this average age seems to keep getting older over time, so it’s obvious that the breed of Jaguars before the XF are way off target when it comes to being appealing to the newer generations.

The XF is the solution to that and its working – it seems that over half to two thirds of XF owners are first-time Jaguar owners!

Interior

Jaguar XF

The interior of the Jaguar XF uses a combination of wood and aluminium so well in ways that only Jaguar could manage to pull off. In many cars you either have metallic aluminium or wood, but in the XF you have both, and they blend together so well. The controls were inspired by modern Motorola handphone designs, right down to the buttons and the hue of the lighting (Phosphor Blue). The designers obviously used lighting in a big way to set the interior ambiance as even at night there are hidden LEDs here and there to give subtle lighting to areas like the power window button cluster.

Jaguar XF

Once you get in you may wonder, where are the air conditioning vents, and where is the gear lever? Watch the videos below and you’ll see the Jaguar XF’s start-up sequence, where the circular gear knob and the air conditioning vents appear. The red start/stop button then pulses, compelling you to push it. Press the brakes and hold it down for abit to start the car, no key insertion necessary as there’s keyless go.

VIDEO: Jaguar XF – Startup Sequence

VIDEO: Jaguar XF – Gear Selector Knob Controls

It’s all very gimmicky and these might be some of the few items that break down and have to be replaced at a very expensive cost perhaps 10 years from now, but you have to give it to them that they’re unique and at least makes the driver feel a little more special when he gets to his car after a game of golf with his friend who has an E60 or a W211. The feeling of luxury is further accentuated by the leather wrapping on the top part of the dash and doors. All the buttons and dials on the dash and the steering wheel all have good tactile feedback to them and never feel cheap.

Jaguar XF

The in-car entertainment system are controlled via a touch screen set in the upper half of the center dashboard area, flanked between the two hide-and-seek air conditioning vents. Nothing special about the interface which looks kinda dull and monotonous, and in overseas markets this also doubles up as a TV but this feature was not included in the test car. The audio system supports Aux input, data files from a USB drive as well as direct iPod control. Browsing multiple files and folders on a USB drive was easy and resembles what you’d be used to on a computer so there’s no high learning curve there.

VIDEO: Jaguar XF – Touch-screen LCD Interface

Jaguar XF

So yes, a really nice interior. You can even see the bulge on the hood when you’re driving so that reinforces that feeling that you’re driving something special. It appears that Jaguar’s interior designer actually did some DESIGNING here and that makes the world of a difference, unlike whoever did the E60 and the new W212’s interior, which seem more like a random mesh of angles rather than it being a design as a whole.

Jaguar XF

Even the bottom of the cupholders look good and have the looks to match the gear selector knob’s top. The glovebox opens with a touch of a marked area of the wood trim and you even work the in-car lighting using a simple touch of your finger rather than press any buttons.

VIDEO: Jaguar XF – Interior Lamps Control

VIDEO: Jaguar XF – Glovebox

The only complaints I have is the feeling you get working the door handles on the outside of the car, they seem abit cheap, plasticky and stiff. The multi-info display between the two gauges on the meter panel also looks pretty low-resolution which would be okay 3 to 5 years ago but looks dated today. There is also no sunroof for a car at this price level, and I wish they used a bottom-hinged accelerator pedal that feels better rather than a top-hinged one.

Jaguar XF

Rear headroom is limited as expected from the coupe-like roofline so this is a decent compromise and the XF is a car you’ll want to drive and not be driven in especially if you are tall. The rear visibility is quite bad because of the slim rear window but a rear view camera which displays its video feed on the in-car entertainment system’s LCD display helps alot with this. But it’s quite low tech, just a video feed and that’s all – no automatic parking guidelines shown on the display.

Driving

Jaguar XF

While the car has really ready to go looks, the engine disappoints. The 6-speed ZF transmission shifts are slow and smooth which is great for slow drives but doesn’t increase its urgency when you have the pedal to the metal or are in Sports mode on the gear selector. It is also very slow to respond to kickdown requests. The 530i and E 280 AMG in comparison both have special sports modes which invoke a harsh but very quick shift mode that gives you an exciting feel when you drive spiritedly. The good thing is the gearbox is intelligent enough not to shift when you are taking a sweeping bend, thus preventing a slow shift from upsetting the car’s composure in the middle of the bend.

Jaguar XF

The Jaguar XF’s 3.0 V6 petrol unit is good for 238 hp at 6,800rpm and 293 Nm of torque at 4,100rpm and sounds great, with a very apparent rumble when you gun it. Some V-sixes can be quite muted in this aspect but not the XF’s. In fact, past the 5,000rpm mark it’s so rumbly and loud that you can feel vibrations through the floor, which I feel is not something that should be happening in a car of this stature. The exhaust note sounds even better from the outside, so sometimes you may want to drive with your windows down to enjoy the soundtrack.

It’s got an all-aluminium light weight design with four overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, Continuously Variable Cam Phasing (VCP) and variable geometry air intakes. The engine and gearbox have no problem going all the way to the redline whenever needed but it is quite dead below engine speeds of 3,500rpm, and sounds stressed near the redine. 0 to 100km/h in 8.3 seconds also feels very sedate in the car, compared to the 530i’s 6.6 seconds.

Jaguar XF

City driving is a fuss-free agenda and the car is very easy to maneuver thanks to the light steering wheel and the nice grip afforded by the steering wheel, but when you expect a little more in terms of performance or spirited driving, the XF does not seem to deliver and does not offer that confidence you seek to feel like you can always push the car just a little bit further. It’s also not as comfortable as an E-Class during regular city driving as it doesn’t tackle road irregularities and remain composed enough, which makes the Jag a neither here or there affair when it comes to ride comfort or sharp handling.

It also tends to get floaty on the highway from 160km/h onwards, and rather heavy wind noise becomes quite apparent from as low as 120km/h, which made me wonder if there was something wrong with the test unit’s door seals. Braking power is good and no complaints there, with 326mm x 20mm vented front discs and standard 326mm x 20mm discs at the back.

The Verdict

Jaguar XF

The XF a well-behaved car as long as you keep in within its limits. City driving and moderate cruising on the highway are job descriptions it knows well, just not when you push it harder. The exterior and interior are really gorgeous and the gimmicks while being what they are – gimmicks, are fun (over the short 3 day drive at least), so I handed over the keys back to SISMA Auto with the feeling that the XF is more like a hot girl that you date for her looks rather than substance. Some friends even mistook it for a Maserati, and I can see why especially when you look at it from the rear three-quarter angle.

But it’s comfy but not comfy enough, and the engine and handling pales in comparison with its competitors. It would make more sense to buy one in Singapore since it is cheaper than the equivalent 5 and E, but in Malaysia it’s actually more expensive, so its a tough one to recommend. You’ll buy it only for its sexy looks and a lovely interior that’s miles ahead of its competitors while being aware of its drawbacks, and you’ll be a happy owner of a relatively rare and great-looking car in a sea of Es and 5s.