2016 Jaguar XF-S Review and Road Test

2016 Jaguar XF-S

The redesigned XF is still the cat’s meow

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Wait a minute…Isn’t the XF supposed to be all-new for 2016?

Other than a few nuts and bolts, the XF has received a thorough makeover. You’ll be forgiven if you have a tough time rationalizing the changes they made- it’s much easier to see if you have a 2015 version around for comparison’s sake. The design directive, in typical Jaguar fashion was evolution in favour of revolution. Even if you can’t spot the differences it won’t matter too much- you have to agree that the XF is pretty nice to look at, isn’t it? It certainly looks better than the usual suspects it will go to battle against, that’s for sure.

Oh, bother. This time around you can’t get a V8. I want a V8. I need a V8.

In most situations, we’d agree wholeheartedly- a V8 is better than a V6. They sound better, there’s two more cylinders and they make more power. Many of life’s problems can be solved by adding more horsepower. But the thing is, we really didn’t miss the bigger engine when we upped the pace in the XF. Being the top level S model, it comes with Jaguar’s supercharged V6 taken directly from the wonderful F-Type coupe and roadster. It still makes the same 380 horsepower and 332 pounds feet of torque and honestly, its more than enough fizz to put a smile on your face. That’s not to say they won’t shoehorn one of their bonkers supercharged lumps into the engine bay down the road- but the blown six is more than adequate in giving this kitty a good dose of catnip when you nail the throttle.

What, no mechanical mayhem from the exhaust like in the F-Type?

Jaguar has reserved the wonderfully antisocial aural assault for the F-Type- even in Dynamic mode, the XF is much, much quieter than its two door counterpart; there’s no button to activate neighbourhood disturbing levels of decibels on the console so don’t bother looking for one. Mark our words, we dearly missed some of those delightful pops and burbles but that kind of stuff is just too shouty for a car that will spend most of time cruising instead of slicing apexes on country two lanes. After a while we began to appreciate the quiet in the XF’s cabin, because in the F-Type even with the driving modes set to max comfort and civility the soundtrack never quite knows how to relax. If you cock your head just so you can still here a bit of supercharger whine mingled with the politely gruff overtones of the V6’s intake and exhaust noise. The whole thing fits the car quite well.

Putting it in Dynamic Mode makes the XF feel like it’s drank one too many Red Bulls.

Actually, not at all. Dynamic Mode (think Sport Mode in most cars) isn’t so high strung that you should only use it in certain situations- we found ourselves thumbing the button almost every time we got into the XF. When that’s activated you can twist the rotary gear selector to S which puts the car in max attack mode- the suspension, steering, throttle sensitivity and transmission are all their peak. Most of the XF’s competitors are rendered too nervous and frenetic when you do that if you’re just heading around the block- think screaming engines bordering on the offensive held in too low a gear when simply puttering through a school zone and you’re not too far off. No matter if you’re in Dynamic Mode or not, the paddle shifters respond commendably well and are one of the best we’ve encountered- only flimsy black plastic paddles that activate those crisp shifts dim the experience somewhat.

What happens when you show it some corners?

Jaguar’s decision to use a good amount of aluminium rather than steel for the structure pays dividends for the cars balance helping it achieve 50/50 weight distribution. They’ve also fitted a rear biased all wheel drive system that supplies gobs of grip and compliments the chassis handling acumen. You’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised while talking highway onramps as the XF supplies piles of surefooted grip, and the XF seems to whisper in your ear that you can push it even harder. The only miscue is the choice of blandish all season H-rated rubber shod on beautiful 20 inch wheels, but at least they deliver a supple ride.

How does it fair against ze Germans?

Is it just us, or has the Mercedes E-class/BMW 5 series/Audi A6 trio all become increasingly bland and more Lexus-y in favor of the sportiness they supposedly priorities? These sedans used to champion pointy dynamics over decibels at cruising speed, and they all perform similarly to one another. Also, there’s tons of them- have a glance around next time you’re waiting at an intersection and we’ll bet your all but guaranteed to see a few of them. The same cannot be said about the XF. The Jag represents a compelling alternative to the established players, and drives better while looking a whole lot nicer in the in the process.

What might go wrong?

The InControl Touch infotainment system is an immense improvement over the old system, so kudos to Jaguar for remedying a big problem that plagued the user experience. Still, there is some work to be done. The layout and menus are pretty good, but the response time for how long it takes the system to respond to one of your inputs needs to be addressed. Actually, we had to dig deep to find any meaningful nits to pick, and the best we could come up with was that the power window switches are a bit of a reach, and the stop/start system is annoying enough that it became routine to shut it off whenever we set out for a drive. We can’t even kvetch about the price or fuel economy, as the Jag beats its competitors on those fronts as well. And while it feels wrong to moan about the lack of a juiced up V8 after heaping praise on the supercharged six, we won’t stand in the way of any plans to drop the hilariously overpowered V8s Jaguar has in their arsenal sometime in the future.

2016 Jaguar XF-S- Specifications

  • Price as tested: $77,700
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger sedan
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Engine:  3.0-litre turbocharged V6, DOHC, 24 valves
  • Horsepower:  380 @ 6,500 rpm
  • Torque (lbs-ft.): 332 @ 3,500 rpm
  • Curb weight: 1,760 kg (3,880 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel Consumption: 11.6L/100km (20 mpg)