Brutally competent. Ruthlessly efficient. Stylishly elegant.
Very fast with a 5.2-second sprint to 60-mph, yet never too shouty about it.
The new 2016 XF is stunningly good. This mid-range model lives between the base Ingenium diesel here in the USA and the top XF S with its 380HP and sport exhaust.
340 ponies are always on tap thanks to the supercharged engine configuration. Same goes for the worlds-best ZF eight-speed automatic. And the lightweight, part-aluminum chassis that drops hundreds of Lbs versus its arch-rivals the 535i and Mercedes-Benz E350.
How about the new A7-style fastback proportions? And those bulbless full LED lights up front!?
Let’s drive this cat wild with two HD drive videos, 100 photos and standard section headings.
Part 1 – HD Drive Review Video
The new XF was less than exciting to these eyes when it debuted online. There car just seemed exactly the same! We even called it a facelift in the initial article. Only realizing later that the car shares not a panel with the outgoing car. The nose, profile and tail are all quite different for 2016. As are the overall proportions, in fact.
In the flesh, the car is a solid triple — if not a home run. It looks outstandingly sporty for a midrange offering, and the R-Sport upgrades are a chic evolution of the XF-R from the previous generation. What sets the XF-S apart from this XF35t R Sport? Mostly the intakes up front. Where the R-Sport has sliced intakes with horizontal satin silver details, the XF-S has wider and rounder lower-bumper intakes. In isolation, only the silver-painted 19-inch alloys of our XF35t R-Sport betrayed its mainstream ambitions.
The look is ultra modern up front: the nose is full of intake grilles, lined with sharp bumper creasing and a clean, dark main grille. This grille is lined with a satin silver element — matching the strakes below — and is a million miles from the old chrome wire-mesh grille looks.
The new nose is much, much more striking with the optional full-LED headlights. These evolve the cat-whisker of LED DRL into a more geometric line of white light. The line started in the white LED extends up the fender and hood edge in a clean and classy new way. The LEDs themselves are now much brighter and whiter, and even include a switchback amber LED element in the same shape.
Around the profile, there is even more freshness to report. If less obvious right away on the street.
Most notable is the new fastback roofline. This stretches the look of the car backward onto its hind legs, ready to pounce. Shifting the C-pillar to a more raked, slanted appearance has the added benefit of shrinking the front overhang and extending the perceived hood length. All in all, it definitely works! There is no doubt that this is a rear-drive (AWD optional!) luxury car in the BMW and AMG style. The roofline does recall the A7 at times, as does the rear three-quarter angle. But the Jag does it better, with that long-hood, chopped-overhang ideal. This is missing on the A7, which has a fairly short hood and long overhang up front.
The Jag has a curiously long overhang in back to cement the coupe-sedan stance for this year. We also have a shorter trunk decklid, all-new designs for the lighting and bumpers, plus twin central exhaust pipes. The new tail LEDs are a double bubble of light at each corner. In the daytime preview photos, the red of the brake lights seems like a lot of plastic. But in the flesh, the line of LED internal optic is chic, new and interesting. Lots of F-Type influence in how slim the light signature is in twilight or the dark.
The final sport upgrades for the R-Sport XF are a near-total black dip for the glasshouse edges. Very little brightwork in general… until the tail. We have a swish of horizontal chrome connecting the brakelights. The R-Sport’s subtle lip spoiler on the edge of the trunk helps settle the fastback roof when viewed from behind. It all works. We say on video that the XF35t is a dark wheel finish away from being one of the coolest cars on the road!
The new XF’s cabin is heavenly. This brown leather is the perfect soft/classy complement to its exterior. The seats and drive position are some of the best we’ve ever sampled. You’re just instantly ensconced in the cabin. Compact-boss airbag and buttery-soft leather for the thick wheel rim. Perfect controls, with perfect paddle shifters at beckon call a finger-flick away.
Jaguar swapped a few things around for this major redesign of the XF. The revolving air vents are simplified: the new design hides just the outer dash air vents when the system is off. It is a clean and classy execution. The dashtop is so short and low, and the pillars so narrow, that you have a terrific view of the road passing by. Even around tight corners.
All 2016 XFs have completely new dash infotainment and touchscreens. Two sizes are available, and our test car ran the smaller, standard variety. It is a giant screen though, even in this spec. Button controls flank the touchscreen, while audio and climate functions are handled via the switch panel in the middle center stack. Silly to describe in this detail: all you need to know is that the system is fast, high-res and one of the best from any carmaker. Phone links and Bluetooth connections? Piece of cake. Set/forget ease.
There is an amazing sense of quality construction inside the XF. Everything feels installed tight and there is zero movement of any plastic dash pieces. Truly an Audi-like fastidiousness to the quality of every detail, but easier to use than any Audi we’ve tried. We especially like the new, ultra-posh secondary knobs and controls. Brushed-alloy faces to the knobs, and slim, lightweight stalks for blinkers, lights and wipers.
The longer rear end than before means a giant, flat-floored trunk. Easy tumbling for the back seats creates a giant load bay. And these folding seats are actually pretty rare in the luxury market, where BMW often makes the feature optional or special-order. Regular trunk hinges, versus gas struts, are employed so that it is a piece of cake to shut with one hand. Mission accomplished. More curry hooks back there would be nice, though. To hold plastic grocery bags upright.
We adored the XF’s mood on the road from all seats. The driver’s throne is best, of course, for feeling the rush of power in the Sport drive modes!
Part 2 – HD Drive Review Video
This XF drives like an absolute champ. It is superbly balanced and has flawless straight-ahead tracking like the best German luxury cars. Yet it is also deeply informative through the steering wheel and pedals. You know exactly what the car is doing on its contact patches to the road. A fabulous sense of front and rear suspensions working together around corners. The 528 and 535 are much, much more isolating around corners. Yet are no smoother or quieter than this sporty Jag when you’re in a chill mood.
Effortlessly light and quick steering is a huge asset for the XF on the road, too. Its real magic comes from this incredible powertrain, though. 5.2-second to 60-mph is the sprint time of this 340HP XF35t, which is down just 0.2-seconds versus the top XF-S and its 380HP. And it feels superbly fast at all times.
The eight-speed autobox takes some credit here, as does the always-on torque of the supercharged V6. This is a car that rockets off the line, rockets out of parking-lots and generally rockets as fast as you can drive it.
Seriously good ability in the Jaguar XF35t with rear-drive to put its power down, too. This is in stark contrast to the less-powerful Hyundai Genesis 3.8 RWD, which has intrusive ESP and sloppy moves when turning left or right out of a parking-lot and into traffic. The Jag XF just bounds away with no drama in a scene the Genesis would be cutting power, pulsing brakes and frowning over tiny pebbles below its back tires.
Just pure, flawless handling balance and power deliver for the XF. It is imminently capable, yet also charming at the same time.
The only note we have for those torn between XF35t and XF-S is the exhaust and intake sounds. The XF35t is so, so refined and quiet. Little of the rorty back-bellow and aural delights we love so much from other new Jags. For that, the XF-S is the all-star. Its extra power might not help much in pure sprint times, but it is said to be much more interesting to the ear on throttle.
No supercharger sounds from this XF35t. Just ruthlessly well-lubricated, high-tech engine whirrs from the sleek nose of this XF35t.
That matches the car’s exec-express mission very nicely. And makes its intense power delivery and snappy shifts even more impressive. Such a fun and fast drive.
Here’s one of the best pieces of news about the new XF. The price!
It is down sharply versus before, and includes better standard equipment to boot.
The base price of this XF 35t RWD R Sport is $60,650, and came in at $64,185 out the door. The options on the tester were:
— $550 for ammonite grey paint
— $990 for head-up display (skip this to save cash)
— $1000 for the Adaptive Dynamics: drive modes. Very nice to have!
The new XF deserves serious attention. It is simply far superior to its competitors in the BMW 535i and Audi A6, especially the mid-spec versions of those Germans.
The XF35t is faster, purer to drive hard around corners, and classier than any alternatives thanks to its rarity on the road.
Exclusivity, for sure! And dripping in coolness.
We’re huge fans of the new XF, and you will be too after even the briefest of brief test drives. This car is an absolute must-drive for anyone in the market for a $55-65k luxury/sports sedan.
See what you’ve been missing. Book a test drive over at JaguarUSA.com.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.