In-depth Reviews

Jaguar XF saloon - Engines, drive & performance

The Jaguar XF is fun to drive, although its advanced diesel engines are more about smoothness and economy than punchy acceleration

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4.1 out of 5

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Owners Rating

3.6 out of 5

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Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.5 out of 5

Following the example set by its smaller XE sister, the Jaguar XF is a real contender in its class and we think it’s close to the BMW 5 Series when it comes to driving fun and handling prowess. Its entry-level hi-tech diesel engines are more focused on low running costs than high performance, but sportier engines are available for those who want them.

The three 2.0-litre diesels are available with a choice of six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. The latter shifts gears swiftly and smoothly, but we think it works slightly better with the more powerful 3.0-litre diesel engine in the range-topping XF S. Crisp, direct electric power steering completes the picture.

The Jaguar XF is a comfortable car and among the very best to drive of its type. You can tweak the steering, engine and gearbox settings, and on cars fitted with adaptive suspension, the firmness can be adjusted for a sportier drive.

In place of a regular traction-control system, Jaguar offers something called All-Surface Progress Control (ASPC) – a development of technology from the company’s off-road-focused sister brand Land Rover to make driving on snow, ice or wet grass easier. When activated, it overrides your accelerator and braking inputs at low speed if you’re struggling for grip, allowing you to focus solely on steering the car.

If you want even more traction in these conditions, Jaguar also offers four-wheel drive for the XF. It’s available with the 178, 237bhp and 296bhp diesel engines and automatic gearbox and provides greater grip in slippery conditions. Most of the time you don’t notice it working – it’s as much fun as the regular, rear-wheel-drive XF, but provides extra reassurance on wet and slippery surfaces, and reduces the chances of wheelspin if you need to pull away quickly.

Jaguar XF diesel engines

The vast majority of Jaguar XFs sold in the UK have either a 161, 178 or 247bhp 2.0-litre ‘Ingenium’ diesel engine under the bonnet. We think the mid-range one is a superb all-rounder, taking 8.7 seconds to go from 0-60mph, or 7.9 with an automatic gearbox. However, we reckon the less powerful 161bhp engine is sufficient for most buyers’ needs. It covers the same sprint in a still-respectable 9.3 seconds (8.6 with the automatic gearbox).

If you want a genuinely quick diesel, then take a look at the 237bhp model. With four-wheel drive, it'll dash from 0-60mph in just 6.5 seconds. Even with rear-wheel drive, it accelerates briskly away from a standstill and builds speed quickly. Having two turbochargers helps the engine responsiveness across a wide rev range, making it ideal for overtaking and swift progress without having to work the engine too hard.

If you need still more power, go for the remarkably smooth 3.0-litre 296bhp V6. Although more powerful than the three Ingenium choices, this engine is of an older design, so it’s slightly less fuel-efficient. If you can live with that, however, you’ll enjoy prodigious overtaking ability and a 0-60mph time of 5.6 seconds.

Petrol engines

Two 2.0-litre petrol engines are available with 246 and 296bhp respectively, badged 25t and 30t. The former dispatches 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds, while the latter manages it in 5.6 seconds with four-wheel drive or with just the rear wheels driven.

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