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2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD Road Test Review

 

Fully deserving of your undivided attention

Jaguar’s mid-size XF received a thorough redesign for 2016, but rather than merely congratulate themselves on a job well done they went back to work in order to introduce an all-new turbo-diesel base engine for 2017. I’ve driven it in the F-Pace, it’s superb, and can’t wait to test it out in the XF, but until then I “made do” with an R-Sport 35t.
 
 
 
 

A completely new car in every respect 

This new second-generation XF, introduced for the 2016 model year, shares very little with the car that came before. In fact, its aluminum structure and bodywork has much more in common with the full-size XJ, the sensational F-Type sports car, and the stunning new D-segment XE sport sedan and F-Pace SUV. The iQ modular platform uses more lightweight aluminum than any rival, the key components being the entire unibody, the hood, front fenders, and suspension towers, which are actually high-pressure die-cast aluminum, while the crossbeam and front end carrier are formed from even lighter magnesium alloys, the end result for our Canadian-spec car being 120 kilos less overall mass than the outgoing car, which along with 28 percent greater structural rigidity improves handling, NVH levels, crash protection, and fuel economy; the latter impressively low at 6.9 L/100km city/highway combined for the 20d, and 10.4 combined with the as-tested 35t.
 
 

 

High-tech driving aids will make you feel like a pro 

The XF rides on a fully independent double-wishbone front suspension and an integral-link rear design that, in the case of my tester, was aided by optional Jaguar Adaptive Dynamics dampers, these monitoring body movement 100 times per second and wheel/tire movement 500 times per second while simultaneously comparing data with vehicle speed, lateral Gs, yaw, tire grip, etcetera, feeding all the info through various algorithms, concurrently factoring in individually chosen standard Jaguar Drive Control mode settings that include Normal, Eco, Rain/Ice/Snow plus Dynamic, and instantly adjusting the damper control valves for the best possible ride and handling compromise. You’ll never be the wiser, which is as it should be, but instead Jaguar Adaptive Dynamics makes a good driver feel great, mediocre driver feel good, and so on. 
 
This is aided by standard all-wheel drive for surer grip in all conditions, All Surface Progress Control that acts like low-speed cruise control in slippery situations, torque vectoring control via the ABS-enhanced four-wheel discs, plus of course performance-tuned traction and stability control. 
 
My tester was upgraded with 20-inch twinned five-spoke alloys that not only enhanced performance but looked fabulous, these shod in 255/35ZR Pirelli Cinturato P7s for lots of that grip mentioned a moment ago, this particular XF R-Sport model needing all the road-holding capability it can get considering the power lurking behind its sporty new front fascia.
 
 
 
 

An excellent mix of power and efficiency 

All XFs, excepting top-line S trim, come standard with the new in-house 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four with 180 horsepower and 318 lb-ft of torque, hooked up to a quick yet smooth shifting eight-speed automatic and AWD, whereas my Rhodium Silver painted bullet was upgraded to Jaguar’s well-proven 3.0-litre supercharged 35t V6 for an ultra satisfying paddle shift actuated 5.4-second sprint to 100km/h and a terminal velocity of 250 km/h. This more exuberant powerplant, which puts out 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, is available in Premium, Prestige and R-Sport trims, whereas an even zestier 380-hp version comes standard in XF S trim. 
 
All of this mechanical and digital kit combines for a wonderfully compliant ride that’s still capable of extremely assertive handling, even when set to default Normal mode. I must admit I had mine in Dynamic sport mode most often, yet even set to maximum performance it was nevertheless wonderfully smooth and comfortable, albeit light and agile feeling no matter how sharply I turned it into a given corner. Likewise it took off from standstill at a blistering pace, the 35t producing a subdued albeit sinister snarl. Truly, the 35t delivers a more performance-oriented experience than most competitors’ offerings. 
 
 
 
 

What you get for your money will shock you 

The change to supercharged V6 power from diesel moves the sticker price up from the XF’s $60,000 base to just $62,000, making this upgrade one of the best performance deals anywhere, while base Premium trim includes LED-enhanced auto HID headlamps, 18-inch alloys, metal doorsills, pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, a garage door opener, rain-sensing wipers, aluminum interior inlays, a colour TFT multi-information display, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a powered tilt and telescopic steering column, dual-zone auto HVAC, a large Jaguar InControl Touch infotainment display with a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, 380-watt 11-speaker Meridian audio, powered seats with driver’s memory, InControl Protect, InControl Remote, 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks, all the usual active and passive safety features, and more. 
 
The $67,000 Prestige upgrades the rims to 19s while adding puddle lamps, keyless entry, LED mood lighting, a heatable steering wheel, heatable front seats, four-way powered lumbar, leather upholstery, navigation, front and rear parking sensors, InControl Apps, and more; whereas the $70,500 R-Sport I tested includes a sportier front fascia, side sill extensions and a rear deck lid spoiler, special satin-chrome detailing, black window surrounds, LED headlamps with adaptive cornering and auto high beams, signature DRLs, sport seats, satellite radio, closing vehicle sensing, autonomous emergency braking, blindspot monitoring, reverse traffic detection, lane keeping assist, and driving condition monitoring.
 
 
 
 

Luxury abounds in Jaguar’s mid-size model 

All of those aforementioned features come wrapped up in one of the segment’s most attractive sport sedans, which carries its good looks right through to its interior design. The dash top, normally soft synthetic, was optionally trimmed in stitched leather, while most of the instrument panel and all four door uppers were done out in the rich pliable composite just mentioned, whereas the door inserts just below are covered in gorgeous contrast stitched leathers that nicely match the sharply suited sport seats. At least as opulent, the roof pillars and roofliner were wrapped in deep black pseudo suede, while genuine metals abound, the inlays detailed out in a fabulous textured aluminum and the rotating gear selector, which powers up out of the console, rimmed in a classic satin alloy. 
 
The gauge package was upgraded to a fully configurable TFT display with superb graphics, sharp resolution, and rich colours. The same goes for the optional 10.2-inch widescreen infotainment system atop the centre stack, filled with Jaguar’s latest digital tech, not to mention cool scenic graphics that include an iconic red British phone booth for device connectivity, text messaging and audio streaming, plus additional photo graphics to prompt navigation with 3D mapping, the audio system, etc, while the backup camera featured dynamic guidelines for easy parking. 
 
 
 
 

Much roomier now than ever before 

The XF is quite roomy when compared to others in its mid-size category. Its rear legroom is very generous thanks to 282 mm of added length overall, this also improving the size of the trunk to a golf bag gobbling 505 litres. The trunk can be expanded via 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks so that longer items, such as skis, to be stowed down the centre, letting rear occupants enjoy greater comfort as well as the outboard seat heaters when equipped, as my tester was. Jaguar also upgraded my ride with dual auto HVAC controls on the backside of the front console, as well as manual sunshades at the side and a powered rear shade. 
 
The heatable rear seats came as part of a $2,050 Comfort and Convenience Pack that also included cooled front seats, auto cinching doors, and a powered trunk lid, while my tester’s $2,950 Premium Interior Upgrade Pack included the aforementioned psuede roofliner (which also includes suede sunvisors), the four-zone HVAC system, and the rear sunshades, while adding illuminated doorsill plates, configurable mood lighting, and more.
 
 
 
 

Personalize your XF with an impressive assortment of options 

Additionally, my test car featured the $3,100 Technology Pack that wowed with the 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, while also adding upgraded InControl Touch Pro Connected Navigation along with real-time traffic, a route planner app, an arrival mode, destination sharing, InControl Pro services, Wi-Fi, voice activation, a 60GB solid-state hard drive, a phenomenal 17-speaker, 825-watt Meridian surround sound system, and more. 
 
Lastly, the previously noted Adaptive Dynamics suspension was $1,000 extra, the upgraded 20-inch wheel and tire upgrade added $1,500, while my car also included a $400 heated windshield, $835 worth of branded rubber floor mats and wheel locks, plus $600 worth of metallic paint, bringing its total to $82,935 before adding freight and fees.
 
 
 
 
Jaguar could have added more, a $3,400 Driver Assistance Package still available with adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree surround camera, surround park distance control, self-parking capability, traffic sign recognition, etcetera, plus a $1,300 standalone head-up display, standalone $400 burl walnut, $400 satin ash burl, or $800 carbon fibre trim, and various no-charge interior colour themes, but my tester’s standard black leather upholstery and piano black lacquered trim looked great and the rest of its feature set was more than enough.
 
 
  

A great car for great value 

In summary, the new XF is not only worthy of direct comparison against its main German rivals, but it beats them in key areas. Its six-cylinder powertrain is more entertaining and driving dynamics more engaging, both of which are at least partially due to the car’s lightweight aluminum construction, while its features are superb, interior mostly up to par, and styling arguably more endearing. It also represents excellent value, which is why it deserves your undivided attention. 
 
 
 
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press 
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press 
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc. 
 
 

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