In the charge of the mid-sized executive sedans, especially in Singapore, the usual suspects are Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz but many tend to overlook a slinky feline on the sidelines – Jaguar. We are guilty of this too as you can tell from the reviews and stories we have run in the last couple of years. Part of the reason for this oversight could be the common association of the brand with older folk, but the image of the marque has been shifting and getting ever-younger, or at least that is Jaguar’s intention. With that in mind, we finally got ourselves a Jaguar to test.
For starters, two feral supercharged variants exist in the XF’s line-up: a tyre-shredding 5.0-liter XFR and the 3.0-liter we tested. A mid-life facelift gives the XF a mean slant to its eyes, which are incidentally underlined by a row of LEDs for that intimidating thousand-yard stare. In addition to its revised aesthetics, the XF also sees a raft of under-body enhancements that should see its appeal, and hopefully its target audience, broaden immeasurably.
According to Adrian Hallmark, Global Brand Director at Jaguar Cars, “The technical improvements introduced to the 2013 Model Year XF demonstrate Jaguar’s determination both to exceed the demanding expectations of our customers around the world, and our ambitious plans for growth in emerging markets. Through the expertise of our engineering teams, the Jaguar brand is in a stronger position than ever before to achieve those goals.”
Mechanically, the 3.0 S/C is also equipped with a ZF-sourced slick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission (Jag fans will recall it was first used in the 2.2-liter XF) that works in tandem with Jaguar's intelligent Stop/Start system – a transmission that has been used to such devastating effect in a host of other marques that you will be asking “dual-clutch what?” in no time. Apart from offering smoother acceleration, it also has the benefit of serving up reduced emissions and better fuel economy. 200 millisecond-shifts are executed with sufficient conviction for both up- and down-shifts that you won't miss the occasional dithering “are you sure?” at shifting-down that dual-clutch boxes often exhibit.
Apparently, the new power-train, which includes an aluminum-cased rear differential, means the new model is comparable (in terms of weight and packaging) with its six-speed automatic predecessor, albeit with the eight-speed boasting better efficiency. Gearshifts can either be left to the gearbox's own devices, or the driver can override the controls via the steering wheel mounted paddles.
In Singapore, the impression of Jaguar that is commonly perpetuated is of an older demographic of owners, who continue to have the X-Type and S-Type in their minds but there is a lot more to the brand, especially with models such as the F-Type on the horizon. Inside the XF, there is certainly a welcome difference in cabin architecture that makes a refreshing change; some have commented that the rising cylindrical gear-shifter (or drive command dial), which is now a common feature in all the modern Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles, takes some getting used to. The cabin is an eclectic fusion of high-technology and old-world elements, which gives the XF a personality of its own. The 2909mm wheelbase translates to decent spaced for all occupants and there is a good amount of features to enhance life-on-board. Most can be engaged via the seven-inch TFT touchscreen.
Displacing 2995cc, the XF 3.0 V6 produces 340bhp and 450Nm, which are strong figures for a model that doesn’t bear any extraneous go-faster nomenclature addendum. The 100km/h dash from standstill is dispatched in under 6 seconds – no mean feat considering its 1.8-tonnes kerbweight –with top speed rated at 250km/h; in contrast, the V8 XFR will demolish the 100km/h mark in under 5 seconds, even if the top speed remains inhibited to 250km/h, just like the XF.
On the drive command dial, S mode endows the car with more sprightly gearbox responses for driving fast in the city. Once the roads open up, the chequered flag button enlivens damping, steering and engine response, which ably demonstrate the XF’s engaging character, especially blasting down a series of familiar roads. We would have preferred for the steering weighting to be heftier but this is not to say it didn't communicate well via the chunky steering wheel as far as lateral forces were concerned. The other pet peeve is the car’s lack of aural drama, which we feel should be staple on every car with an iota of sportiness coursing through their exhaust vents.
With pedal-fully-to-metal, we’d have expected a great snarling and gnashing of teeth as the 3.0 issued forth a call to arms but it is more genteel and urbane than savvy street-fighter; gentlemen racers, you will have to decide for yourselves how you feel about this. As far as sports sedans go, we still have a soft-spot for rear-driven cars and the XF 3.0 never disappoints as far as handling finesse is concerned; coupled to the linear delivery of the supercharged engine, there is a sweet balance to the entire XF 3.0 package that could see it win fans over from the ubiquitous pool of Teutonic suspects.
- Model: Jaguar XF 3.0 S/C Premium Luxury
- Engine: 2995cc, 24-valves, V6, Supercharged
- Power @ rpm: 340bhp at 6500rpm
- Torque @ rpm: 450Nm at 3500-5050rpm
- 0-100km/h: 5.9 seconds
- Top speed: 250km/h
- Transmission: 8-speed Automatic