New compound features ‘mechanical intelligence’ and adapts to suit the temperature
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The Top Gear car review: Jaguar XF
For:Ride and handling are sublime, makes a strong rational case for itself
Against:Interior not quite as special as it could be, engines aren't the most refined
What is it?
What is it? Good question. We suspect the Jaguar – were it to grow sentience and develop a personality – would probably ask itself the same thing. Am I a luxury executive saloon content on deploying mile-crushing comfort? Am I a pointy sports car able to entertain even on small trips to Waitrose? Do I need to see a professional to deal with this inner monologue?
Whatever the XF turns out to be, it’s important; a class of car that forms the very fabric of Jaguar’s long, storied and tailored outfit. It also faces incredible opposition, most notably from key rivals like that pesky know-it-all, the BMW 5 Series, and Mercedes’s imperious E-Class. Even the zen-like Volvo S90 adopts a southpaw stance for this fight.
Which means the XF needs some skills. The first generation, while a pretty-looking thing designed by Ian Callum, launched in 2007 but carried with it the old S-Type’s chassis. This second-gen car utilises a new chassis using what Jaguar describes as an “aluminium-intensive architecture” (read: lightweight and modern).
Suspension is via double wishbones up front and a multi-link setup at the back, and it’s claimed to have a near 50:50 weight distribution. That latter advantage doth make a car handle greatly. What should make it ride greatly is the adoption of fancy passive dampers (they’ve got an additional valve for reduced low speed damping forces, suspension fans!), or fancier-still adaptive ones available as an option.
Normalised now for this class of car, the Jag can be optioned with four-wheel-drive, and Jaguar reckons it’s managed to squirrel in rear-drive characteristics to its setup using knowledge from the F-Type. A rear-drive version is available on all engine variants barring the 236bhp 2.0-litre diesel.
Ah yes, engines. There are three versions of the ‘Ingenium’ 2.0-litre diesel (160bhp, 176bhp, 236bhp), along with a bigger 3.0-litre turbo V6 with 296bhp. There are also three versions of Jag’s 2.0-litre four-pot petrol, in 196bhp, 246bhp and 296bhp guises. You will note that there are no versions of a supercharged petrol V6, or a supercharged petrol V8, and while a sign of the times, it nonetheless makes us a bit sad.
Yes, we’ve spent an inordinate amount of time talking about the chassis, suspension and engines, but that’s for a reason, as you’ll soon discover on the next page…