2017 Jaguar XF 35t AWD R-Sport – HD Road Test Review w/ 2 Videos



Shhh.  The Jaguar XF does not know it’s a sedan!  With a big back seat and giant trunk!

You won’t realize that either when driving.  This is a sports sedan that puts the SPORT proudly FIRST.

Here is a car that doesn’t need the (optional) leaper cat emblem.  Why?

Because a supercharged pop off the line delivers 5.1-second sprints to 60-mph — no matter what.

This AWD variant is a tenth quicker than the rear-drive model.  So it aims to be just as quick rain, snow or shine.

We took the XF by the scruff of the neck for an HD drive review, walkaround and full writeup.  Click to play video to start!

HD Drive Review Video

EXTERIOR

The XF was new with this bodystyle for the 2016 model-year and still feels exceptionally modern in the flesh.  Almost uncanny smoothness to its nose.  Its slimline full LED lights seamlessly meet the big fenders and rippling, muscled hood.

The XF is defined visually by its trimlevel.  This is especially clear up front: the R-Sport pack we tested is midway between the top XF-S and the entry-level model.  R-Sport flips the chrome brightwork to satin silver, deepens the lower intakes and sharpens the lower splitter appearance.  Dark mesh grillework matches in the same pattern for all the intake surfaces — just one of many classy touches.

Those full LED lamps are less-unique than before in their white line of light along the lower lamp shape — because dozens of cars have copied this look.  But the Jag’s execution is better: its amber turn signals are a thing of beauty as the same area that is normally white goes all yellow.  The upper portion of the lamps is the low-beam, and forms the slimmest slit of light from straight ahead.  Real cats-eye type of stare when on the prowl.

Moving into profile, you’ll note that this gen of part-aluminum XF has a different glasshouse and a much more cab-backward stance.  The front overhang is minimal and the hood is long and elegant.

The sills are extra sharp on this R-Sport trim, with a special badge in the front fender indent.  Not a real vent on here, but no bother.

Gloss black lines the interesting window edges as they plunge toward the fastback trunk.  See, despite having more rear-end for this gen, there is actually less trunklid.  It all leaves the XF feeling sporty, expensive and unique on the road.

We make the inelegant observation during the above video that the many 528s and E350’s on the road “might be great cars… but they ain’t special.”

The pert rump of the new XF looks sharp in R-Sport trim with a tiny edge spoiler to bring depth to the fastback look from the rear.  The double bubble LED running lights in back are certainly a highlight too!

More modern exhaust pipes would be nice – as nice as the dual chrome roundies are.

HD Walkaround Video

INTERIOR

The cabin of the XF is a mix of love and like.  Love the sporty yet supportive seats and chunky, thick three-spoke steering wheel.  Love the drive position and the startup experience.  (Actually, this list is almost all in the Love column, so you know….)

Love the gloss black veneers and unexpected red leather accents.  Or perhaps red with black accents.  It is very red and black inside – including the dark headliner and red-stitched black leather dash wrap.  Look how cleanly it lines the windshield edge, with a layered element in the center lit with an LED to provide a nice ambient accent.

The dash is more of a Like than a love, and the same goes for the tech-surface silver accents on the dashfash and door panels.  It is almost to clean and seamless for its own good – becoming a bit forgettable.

Our major gripes with the Jaguar are two-fold: it is slightly noisier on certain roads than we’d like.  The tiniest bit of resonance is evident as you shut the lightweight doors, too.  Being light is good but you want it to feel a bit more sturdy?

We also hate to even say this about a car with ultra-mod 12-inch TFT gauges and a 10-inch capacitive touchscreen.  Jaguar InControl Touch Pro is the upgrade over the standard unit, and takes a bit too much learning.  Even after figuring out the presets and trying a few gauge themes.. you’re left wanting a Tune knob for satellite station selection.  And perhaps some more interesting speedo/tacho design elements.

Sat views from the wifi-connected nav system do exist.  But they are not usable when zoomed in close, and certainly not when looking at a 3D route map, a la Audi.  Just feels like this system either needs a long lesson or more intuitive controls.

A final note we also hate to gripe on, as it would be an easy fix in real life.  But in the name of honesty… we do report that the HUD system’s plastic pieces rattled.  We jammed a walled in the gap to silence it for video shoot.

Bonus time?  The trunk is not only huge but includes the elusive spare tire – a feature disappearing from auto-dom but one that will always be appreciated when needed.

PERFORMANCE

The XF 35t is a marvel on the road.  Start up the 340HP V6 with a snarl and gurgle, then set off in Dynamic/Race mode to get the full effect.  The ZF eight-speed and its paddle shifters are world-class, the throttle response is crisp and meaty, and the brakes strong.  It generally goads you on — Go Faster!  Brake Later!  The downshifts are snappy and result in a great lunge forward in milliseconds.  Yes, modern turbos like in the 530 or GS200t have little to no classic turbo lag.  But they do need to build boost, and this process takes a beat no matter what.

Supercharging solves for this.  It brings V8-like torque all the time, yet has no annoying belt whine.  It offers a wide plateau of a torque peak and lets the max power overhap happen for a good 3000 RPM.  You rev this to the redline for fun, not because you need to in order to find the power.

The change to AWD makes virtually no change to XF’s stellar performance dance card.  The system is so rear-bias most of the time that you’d never be able to tell this car had 4-paw grip, in truth.  XF will even shake its tail feather when provoked, as shown on video above.  Tail comes out at mid-turn, front paws dig in and pull you out of the bend facing forwards and hauling ass.

The car drives great, in case this wasn’t clear.  It handles better than any ponycar sport coupe like Camaro or Mustang.  Yet also has this big caboose!?

Dreamy and special to flog.  The XF is a sport sedan world-beater on the fun-to-drive stakes.

Our only performance gripes are wanting more exhaust note and a more-intense exterior (wheels especially.)  Guess what, XF-S has all this.  And an extra 40HP. But only 0.2-seconds quicker than this sporty kitty. [XF-S AWD is 4.9, XF-S RWD 5.0 and XF35t AWD 5.1s.  5.2s for XF35t RWD shows how quick these all are.]

PRICING

The XF 35t R Sport AWD we tested comes terrifically equipped.  Among the three engines (diesel, 35t and S in the USA), pricing starts from $49k and heads to $66k for the XF-S AWD before options.

Our test car in R-Sport guide bundles in the Climate and Convenience pack with soft-close doors and power trunk.  Headup display is No-Charge while the also-included Tech pack brings a big suite of upgrades.  The central screen goes huge, gauges become 12.3″ virtual instrument cluster and stock audio becomes an 825W Meridian thumper.

All in, the total is $64,645.  XF Builder linked here.

This does bring some big added-value: a huge warranty and even 5 years/60k miles of Jaguar Elitecare for totally free maintenance.  In a time when BMW just cut this off their 2017 cars, this is extra valuable and worth about $3k alone.

SUMMARY

Is the XF right for all sport sedan shoppers?  Yes, sure.  In normal mode, the machine is ultra smooth and clean-driving.  Not too shouty about its status or excellence — yet truly stellar nonetheless.  In rare Sport mode attempts, they will be shocked the car has so much speed!

For people who’d rather be driving a coupe?  YES!  100-percent.  This is the real target market for XF shoppers.  People who need a sedan for kids or clients — but add those back doors begrudgingly.

FOr these drivers, the XF will be a perfect charmer when in duty.  But when solo, swap to Dynamic mode and find some room to run!  The XF will chase horizons on full throttle like the best sports coupes in the world.

Just don’t tell the big trunk and back doors.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: