Jaguar XF Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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BBC TopGear
Car Review

Jaguar XF

£ 34,725 - £ 52,125
710
Published: 27 Jan 2021
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

Regardless of how 2021 a USP of superior handling and ride balance is, the XF remains an impressively harmonious car to drive. Its aluminium-intensive chassis is rigid if not especially light, and suspended on double wishbones at the front and a multi-link set-up at the rear. Trying to get your head around the nomenclature of most car ranges is a headache these days, reflective as it is of the trend to downsizing in power units. So it is with the XF P300 R-Dynamic (in SE trim) that we tried first, a 1.8-tonne saloon car powered by a 2.0-litre, ‘Ingenium’ four-cylinder engine making 296bhp at 5,500rpm. Four cylinders? In a big Jaguar? It’s not a very sonorous unit at start-up or tickover, making you pine even more for a six-pot. There must be some sort of correlation between what you hear and your perception of speed, beyond the objective measures of noise, vibration and harshness. Because although the XF P300 isn’t slow – it’ll do 60mph in 5.8 seconds – this isn’t an experience you’re likely to go chasing with this particular engine upfront.

Not a frantic red-line dash through the first three or four of the eight ratios on its ZF auto, anyway. Once you’re moving it’s plenty refined enough, almost silent at motorway speeds, and the combination of the XF’s expertly calibrated electric power steering and the serene manner in which it soaks up surface undulations makes this a dynamic exemplar. Standard all-wheel drive ensures it’s sure-footed even on roads that are glistening perilously at the edges following substantial snowfall and a sub-zero night. The brakes are fine, the ’box generally unobtrusive, the overall tone one of quiet competence rather than anything truly compelling.

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Funnily enough, it’s the diesel MHEV that feels more genuinely spirited. Less powerful (201bhp) but torquier (317lb ft versus 295), it settles into a pleasingly loping groove, and gives little away in terms of refinement – although neither version is particularly good on that front. The MHEV uses a belt integrated starter generator to recuperate energy for a moderate torque-fill effect, storing it in a battery under the rear seats. Jaguar expects two-thirds of UK sales to be diesel, and as unfashionable as it is, it’s the one to have here. Various drive modes are available – accessed via a little controller with a very expensive machined feel to the right of the drive selector – but after a brief dabble we left it in ‘comfort’. As usual.

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Highlights from the range

the fastest

Jaguar XF 2.0 P300 R-Dynamic S 4dr Auto AWD
  • 0-626.1s
  • CO2
  • BHP300
  • MPG
  • Price£ 37,895

the cheapest

Jaguar XF 2.0 D200 S 4dr Auto
  • 0-627.6s
  • CO2
  • BHP204
  • MPG
  • Price£ 32,315

the greenest

Jaguar XF 2.0d Portfolio 4dr
  • 0-629.8s
  • CO2124.0g/km
  • BHP163
  • MPG57.6
  • Price£ 38,675
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