From £32,590
Resolutely fossil-fuelled four-door saloon took a seat at the Autocar table

Why we ran it: The Jaguar saloon is endangered. Can an updated XF leave a lasting legacy?

Month 3Month 2Month 1 - Prices and specs

Life with a Jaguar XF: Month 3

Combustion-engined Jaguars may be on their way out but, as our time with one showed, there’s life in the old cat yet - 19 January 2022

There are many reasons to be glad of 2022’s arrival: England gets another stab at bringing home the World Cup, Glastonbury looks to be going ahead after a three- year hiatus, we get two days off for the Queen’s platinum jubilee and... well, it just isn’t 2021, is it?

But there will no doubt have
been some who, as Auld Lang Syne rang out across the land, thought to themselves: “That’s it, then – only three more years of combustion- fuelled Jaguar models.” I know I did, as I looked back fondly on 3150 miles comfortably passed at the helm of the XF saloon, which joined us following an extensive mid-life facelift and in the wake of Jaguar’s ground-shaking pledge to go all-electric from 2025.

Even leaving aside that aspect
of finality, though, there remained
a pervasive sense of occasion to each journey in the XF, cultivated by the agreeably meaty steering wheel, luxuriously appointed cabin, punchy motor, well-resolved ride and keen dynamics. Driver and passengers alike exited at the end of each journey with nary a stiff limb or spinning head, and not quite so light on funds as you might expect after a stint in
a hefty, non-electrified saloon car.

The powertrain’s duality of character could be this mid-rung XF’s strongest suit, able to cover substantial tracts of the motorway network without bleeding you or 
your local oil rig dry. A personal best of 41.2mpg might not seem like the pinnacle of frugality these days, but it’s not bad going for this segment. Plus, although I lamented the price of filling its whopping 74-litre fuel tank as petrol prices soared, it did mean my visits to the pump were infrequent.

But while this is an engine that seems to keep half an eye on the coffers, it’s far from miserly. I’d
stop short of calling this a sports saloon (even if it’s almost exactly
as powerful and quick off the mark as a Volkswagen Golf GTI), but in terms of outright punch and dynamic agility, there’s plenty here to keep the fair-weather driving fan happy.

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While the uninspiring exhaust note initially had me pining for a classicJagsix-shooter,theXF’squick- revving four-pot soon outed itself
as an enthusiastic and responsive lump when called on. Hot hatch levels of speed were easily achievable between corners, and though you’d relish the twistier bits more keenly
in something smaller, lighter and stiffer, the XF – particularly with
the tauter R-Dynamic suspension set-up – displays a healthy balance
of composure and flexibility when pushing on. Delectably weighted
and encouragingly quick steering sweeten the deal, and an ability to break traction at will – albeit briefly – on greasier surfaces is testament
to its playful character.

All told, then, this is a generously powered car that’s far from ruinous to run, playful when you want it to be and effortlessly composed when you don’t. But modern cars, particularly in this segment, live or die on the basis of their technical functionality, and it was in this area that the XF had most tangibly fallen short of its rivals. In 2020, as the facelifted XF was revealed, then interior design boss Alister Whelan acknowledged that the firm “really needed to take the interior to the next level”, so
will extensive upgrades to the Jag’s cabin technology cause prospective BMW 5 Series buyers to think twice? Concisely, yes, they’d bloody ought to.

As with all recent additions and updates to the Jaguar Land Rover f leet, the XF now plays host to the firm’s Pivi Pro infotainment platform, dropping most of its physical
controls in favour of a chunky but
still sleek 11.4in touchscreen with
a configurable interface and all the smartphone-mirroring, over-the-air- updating bells and whistles we’ve come to expect of anything with
even a modicum of premium billing. It’s been a wonderfully dependable companion during our time together, rivalling even BMW’s iDrive system for ease of use and functionality, and being just about intuitive enough to use on the move for basic functions without causing undue distraction.

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That said, I’ll always be an advocate for the traditional button or switch for the most commonly used controls, and the ones that remain in situ in the XF have a whiff of form over function. The pull-out digital dials look snazzy enough but I found them a touch fiddly, and the touch-sensitive climate control buttons needed a few prods before they did as they were told.

But do not let that criticism cast
a shadow over what is surely one of the most effective mid-life overhauls of any car in recent memory. Fit and finish is now firmly on a par with anything to come out of Bavaria
or Baden-Württemberg, and the amount of kit included for the price remained a bragging point for the duration of my stewardship.

We’ll remember the XF as one of the most attractively priced and well- rounded cars on sale, and one that’s become infinitely more competitive for the latter portion of its life cycle. It is also a wonderfully encouraging hint at the qualities Jaguar will prioritise as it launches its electric offensive, and cause to get excited about the XF’s engine-less successor.

Second Opinion


You won’t find anyone at Autocar who isn’t sad at the passing of petrol Jaguar saloons, least of all me. I nominated this as my favourite car of all I drove in 2021, for its effortless cruising manners, ability to de-stress and, to be honest, classically British image.

Kris Culmer

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Love it:

Peppy powertrain Pokey turbo four counts frugality and fizz among its most enticing attributes.

A-star infotainment Brilliant new Pivi Pro system rounds off a very welcome cabin revamp.

All that elbow room The XF’s enormous boot coped with everything we threwat–orin–it.

Loathe it:

Climate crisis Haptic climate control buttons are unresponsive and difficult to use on the move.

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Cruise blues Effortless progress on motorways was blighted by lack of adaptive cruise control.

Final mileage: 8700

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Life with a Jaguar XF: Month 2

Over the air additions - 22 December 2021

In my last XF report, I bemoaned its lack of wireless Apple CarPlay, but by the time the magazine was on supermarket shelves, that was no longer true. A 35-minute over-the- air software update to OS 3.0.0 introduced the functionality, which means I can keep my phone cable at home and fire up my music and sat-nav more quickly.

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Mileage: 8850

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Does this particular cruise liner offer excellent entertainment? - 1 December 2021

In welcoming the XF to the Autocar fleet, I – with my tongue nudging the inside of my cheek – called it a “bona fide British sports saloon”. Yes, it has all the prerequisite black trim and that all-important R-Dynamic badge, but there’s no ignoring the fact that, whereas Jag saloons of old were propelled by some of the fruitiest sixes and eights about, the latest – and last – of the line has a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder.

Any lingering dissent at the XF’s switch to exclusive four-pot power is surely exacerbated among the diehards by the fact that Jaguar still has six-cylinder power on its roster, in the form of the nicely rounded and suitably potent 3.0-litre Ingenium, but you can have it only in an SUV.

Is this a sign of a shift in priority for the XF? After all, the fiery XFR never came back for this generation and even the range-topper packs less than 300bhp. I wasn’t holding out much hope that our competent motorway-muncher would out itself as a beast of the back road: it would surely be asking too much for a luxurious, relatively economical and none-too-light saloon to double up as my tool of choice for the weekly blat around the home counties.

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The faintly diesel-esque note to the P250’s idle hardly suggested I would be proved wrong. But shown a few miles of empty, dry and unusually smooth Tarmac, the XF transforms from cushty to genuinely purposeful and engaging. Our car spends much of its time in Eco mode (£1.50 per litre at my local garage, since you ask), which maybe serves to exacerbate the effects of twiddling the dial over to Dynamic mode. Shorter shifts, a more sensitive throttle and weightier steering are the headline tweaks, but it’s hard to not get excited about the red-themed gauges and piped-in engine sound.

Thanks to a Volkswagen Golf GTI-matching 248bhp, acceleration is swift and, should you choose, unmuted, while snappy paddle shifts invite exuberance between corners. And say what you will about fake sounds, but the experience wouldn’t be half as enjoyable were the cabin more isolated from the powerplant.

Get to a bend and the R-Dynamic suspension set-up keeps things nice and flat – yet not at the obvious expense of ride quality on crumblier bits – and the communicative front axle and surprisingly lively rear work together to cultivate some flair. It’s a laugh and further proof that the XF is a properly well-rounded proposition.

The updated diesel XF may have been beaten by the equivalent BMW 3 Series, but I reckon this pokey petrol could give the 320i a run for its money dynamically.

Love it:

Return to tradition Although it’s useless for wedding cakes, the XF’s gargantuan boot makes me wonder why more families don’t run saloons.

Loathe it:

Absent luxuries It’s pretty well loaded with options, but I’m missing adaptive cruise control and wireless Apple CarPlay.

Mileage: 8800

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Tricky to keep clean - 24 November 2021

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It has happened. I knew it would as soon as I saw the XF’s behemoth of an infotainment touchscreen. It looked sleek, seamless and prestigious for all of two weeks but is now coated in a film of fingerprints and dust. So I’ve started keeping a pack of screen wipes next to my hand gel in the cupholder. How’s that for Covid compliance?

Mileage: 8650

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Life with a Jaguar XF: Month 1

Economy is what you make it - 10 November 2021

Over the course of 1500 motorway miles, I nursed the XF’s economy readout to 38mpg – impressive, this not being a diesel and all. But I couldn’t resist the lure of Sport mode on a recent aimless blast around the Surrey Hills, and it’s now back down nearer 35mpg. If nothing else, it serves as a good metaphor for the duality of this motor and chassis.

Mileage: 8361

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Welcoming the XF to the fleet - 3 November 2021

Going all-electric: it’s rather the done thing at the moment. Everybody is doing it, from Alfa Romeo to Alpine and Vauxhall to Volvo, and those companies that have yet to unveil their bold plans to ditch combustion over the coming decade are starting to look more than a little bit unfashionable.

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We have had a good few heavy-hitting headlines over of the past few months on this very subject, among the earliest and most impactful of which was ‘Jaguar to become all-electric brand from 2025’. Other manufacturers will beat them to the punch, of course, but here is a name so intrinsically associated with big-engined sports coupés, snarling race weapons and driver-orientated saloons that the concept of a completely engine-less build hall at Castle Bromwich seems almost unimaginable.

In the meantime, this particular new XF, as you’ll no doubt have clocked, is categorically not electric. Not even electrified, actually, for while Jaguar does already sell plug-in hybrid versions of its F-Pace and E-Pace SUVs (and, of course, the all-electric I-Pace), its struggling XE and XF saloon models continue as combustion-only propositions, albeit with the option of a mildly hybridised diesel engine, while nearly all mainstream rivals are capable of zero-emission running.

So can the XF, as the flagship of Jag’s modern saloon line-up, remain a competitive option in what is already a dwindling segment? It’s the right time to ask. The XF might be the final full-sized, fuel-burning saloon Jaguar will ever produce, but it has also just been extensively updated both inside and out and is actually quite a different proposition from the outwardly similar pre-facelift car.

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We’ve gone for the mid-point of the line-up in the form of the 248bhp P250 petrol engine, which stacks up neatly stat-wise against the BMW 5 Series 530i and Audi A6 45 TFSI: 0-62mph in 6.9sec, a top speed of 155mph and a combined 35.2mpg. Fanatics will no doubt still bemoan the absence of a straight-six engine, but the turbocharged four sends ample grunt rearwards (the right direction) through a slick-shifting automatic gearbox, and the chassis can still offer up a passable impression of a semi-sporting GT in the twisties. And there’s no denying the presence this car exudes at the kerbside.

The visual and technical changes are no doubt extensive and effective enough in their own right to cause at least minor headaches in Munich, Stuttgart and Ingolstadt, but really it’s the revised pricing structure that could most tangibly punt the XF back towards the top of the fearsome exec express segment. Just £33,975 gets you into Jaguar’s biggest saloon these days. That’s the price of a Volkswagen Golf R-Line with a few extras or, perhaps more relevantly, around £5000 less than a 5 Series or a Mercedes-Benz E-Class. And it’s not like it could ever be considered the lesser option materially; if I may be allowed to defy Autocar convention in offering a cliché, it really is a huge amount of car for the money.

The car you see here, admittedly, is specified in racy R-Dynamic trim and comes with a fair few option boxes ticked – to the tune of just over £5000, actually – so we’re not running the true bargain of the class. But that recent round of updates for the XF has freshened it up sufficiently to satisfy this ‘owner’ of its value for money even in higher-specification forms. There’s a fresh new front end with slimmer headlights and a redesigned grille,a chunky (but primarily decorative) diffuser at the back and, crucially, a totally overhauled cabin.

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Gone are the plasticky trim elements and old-fashioned buttons, replaced by a minimalist and plush set-up that visibly links the XF with its futuristic I-Pace sibling. Most obviously, the often lambasted integrated infotainment screen from the older car has been swapped for an expansive 11.4in touchscreen that plays host to nearly all of the XF’s key functions, using Jaguar Land Rover’s new Pivi Pro operating system.

And what a system it is. All too often do car manufacturers seem to confuse quality and utility when designing infotainment interfaces these days, but even after some 1500 miles behind the wheel, I’ve yet to encounter any of the clunkiness or counter-intuitiveness that plagues so many of its rivals’ digital architecture; the overall finish and functionality of the system belies the XF’s low list price. There’s more than a whiff of Tesla about the overbearing touchscreen – for better or worse – and a shift away from physical buttons does increase the potential for distractions while driving, but this surely will be the most instrumental material factor in any sales increase the XF manages to achieve in what time it has left.

Well, it’ll be that or the attractive notion of owning a bona fide British sports saloon (What? It’s British Racing Green, isn’t it?) for a relative pittance. Either way, there are thousands of reasons why the German stalwarts dominate in this segment, and the XF won’t have it easy in proving it can win out.

Second Opinion

Facing a long drive from Brighton to Sheffield, I bit Felix’s hand off when he offered to swap my Mini Convertible for his big Jag saloon. Comfortable and very refined it proved, the new infotainment is ace and it did about 40mpg – decent for a petrol. Suffice to say that I arrived in high spirits.

Kris Culmer

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Jaguar XF P250 R-Dynamic SE RWD specification

Prices: List price new £37,835 List price now £38,310 Price as tested £43,110

Options:Sliding panoramic roof £1345, Meridian sound system £820, 19in split-spoke alloys £800, British Racing Green metallic paint £700, black exterior pack £550, privacy glass £500, wireless charger with phone signal booster £300, cabin air ionisation £140, lockable cooled glovebox £60, air quality sensor £60

Fuel consumption and range: Claimed economy 33.4mpg Fuel tank 74 litres Test average 35.0mpg Test best 41.2mpg Test worst 32.7mpg Real-world range 570 miles

Tech highlights: 0-62mph 6.9sec Top speed 155mph Engine 4 cyls in line, 1997cc, turbocharged, petrol Max power 247bhp at 5500rpm Max torque 269lb ft at 1500-4500rpm Transmission 8-speed automatic Boot capacity 459-917 litres Wheels 19in, alloy Tyres 245/40 R19 Kerb weight 1660kg

Service and running costs: CO2 181-200g/km Service costs None Other costs None Fuel costs £624.43 Running costs inc fuel £624.33 Cost per mile 20 pence Faults None

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Comments
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Add a comment…
Zeddy 26 January 2022
"There are many reasons to be glad of 2022’s arrival: England gets another stab at bringing home the World Cup"

Straws and all that.

catnip 25 January 2022

I'll never be in the market for a large saloon like this, but there's something about the XF that appeals to me far more than the German competition. I could live without the huge touchscreen that seems so important in this review though. I think the XF Sportbrake looks lovely, I can't understand why anyone would prefer to buy the bulky F-Pace instead.

chandrew 7 January 2022

I honestly didn't realise that Jaguar still made the XF, but then I looked at the 2021 sales figures here in Switzerland and found they sold 35, which is exactly the same number as Ferrari Monza's sold. I have at least seen a few of those!