Expert Reviews

[Video] Test Drive: 2015 Jaguar XF 3.0

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This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car

An hour or so after leaving the Jaguar XF following a day on the road, you notice something: the buttery leather used on the seats is so fragrant, it leaves its smell on your clothes for hours. Big deal? No – but just one of those delightful little touches that help contribute to a luxury car experience.

The buttery leather used on the seats is so fragrant, it leaves its smell on your clothes for hours.

There are other little touches. Some chrome and aluminum and stitching and a touch of satin-silver trim are applied through the cabin, as is a bit of theater when the air vents open up in sync with the shift-knob rising from the console when you start the engine. Again, little stuff, but unique, and it adds up.

Further, there’s room enough for four adults to spare, a decent trunk, and a mighty potent Meridian stereo system. And personally, your correspondent loved the uncluttered, simple and elegant look to the layout of the console and dash. Unlike comparable German and Japanese and American luxury cars, XF isn’t lined with numerous interfaces, controls, screens and button-clutter. It’s a straightforward, classy and relaxing looking interior.

The body is a great looking piece of work, too. Curves, intersecting lines, contours and details all intersect and layer upon each other in a way that rewards a lengthy visual inspection. And the face? It looks scowling, angry and ticked off. There are luxury cars aplenty in the Jaguar XF’s ballpark, though few if any pack this much character in the way they look.

There’s a beautiful engine, as well. Jaguar’s 3.0L supercharged V6 first got your writer’s attention in the F-Type Convertible, mainly because it sounded like a shrieking velociraptor about to munch on a bunch of frightened schoolgirls, and secondly because of its silky thrust, instant throttle response, and all-RPM pulling power. The sound effects are dialed down in the statelier XF, though the other aspects remain.

Unlike so many turbocharged V6 engines used to create V8 power nowadays, Jaguar’s use of a supercharger does away with the characteristic lag and flat, often-dull torque curve. Other than the trademark whine from the little Eaton blower visiting the cabin occasionally, you’d never know the XF didn’t just have a much bigger engine. There’s zero throttle lag, a sense of rising action to the power output, and in all, and it’s smooth, potent and effortless all at once. It’s got a great sound, too, where many comparable turbocharged engines don’t. The full throttle song is a potent howl, overlapped at higher revs by the distinctive whine of the belt-driven supercharger which sits on top of the engine.

When you aren’t exploring the powerplant’s full-throttle capability, the generous low-end torque means the XF is happy to ooze along in traffic with minimal throttle, minimal revs, and imperceptible gear changes from the eight-speed automatic, which sees highway-speed revs landing at 1,500 rpm or so. So, here’s an engine that’s as happy driven gently as hard.

The all-wheel drive system is similarly versatile. When you’re driving carefully, it works carefully, predictably, and with an eye for boosting confidence levels in the snow. There’s no drama, the driver experiences traction galore, and never feels a thing from beneath the car as various processes stream power to all four wheels. Put your boot down, and the system adopts a friskier, more tail-happy and more entertaining dynamic. Kill the stability control systems for some backroads fun, and the XF can be steered beautifully via the throttle pedal. Keep a bit of throttle on, even in really sideways stuff, the front axle continues working to pull the car through even really hairy slides. Not that such behavior is, um, conducive to gentlemanly driving activities.

All said, the tuning of the XF’s AWD system fully backs drivers up for confidence, shenanigans, and anything in between, losing nothing in the process.

Should winter road conditions be really awful, and should being absolutely cautious be the order of the day, click the snowflake button. It numbs the throttle response, over-sensitizes the ESP and forces second-gear starts to make it even easier to drive the XF with no slipping or sliding. If you’re a driver after maximum winter confidence when Mother Nature is delivering maximum wintertime nastiness, a feature like this one is nice to have.

Note that the tester rode on all-season tires, which seemed half-decent on bare cold pavement, but proved largely unsuitable for use in snow and ice where no amount of intervention from the ESP, AWD or ABS worked to keep the car from slipping and sliding comically about.

Interesting tuning for the ride: it’s soft enough to be comfortable and laid back on a smooth highway, but there’s a nice tautness dialed in for a surprisingly athletic feel that encourages drivers to push it a little. For drivers who want something balanced nicely between back-roads entertainment value and classy long-haul cruising, this setup should hit the mark nicely. Steering backs it up – it’s heavy but not oppressively so, and quick without being hyperactive. Like the ride, it’s nicely set between comfort and handling entertainment.

A few other notables: the XF’s engine heats up surprisingly fast, even in extreme cold, and the firey-hot heated seats and steering wheel contribute to quick warming of the driver when required. Further, though the electrically-heated front windscreen doesn’t instantly clear frost at 30 below, it starts the process long before the engine starts pumping heat into the cabin. The xenon lighting system is potent and saturating for up-the-road illumination, and includes a washer system for maximum visibility. So, it’s well-equipped for real winter conditions.

The washer system that cleans the windshield is less impressive – fluid is sprayed over the wiper blades, not onto the screen directly, so the windshield can’t be flooded to aid in de-icing.

Further, after clearing the screen nicely, an annoying re-wipe function wipes the screen again a few seconds later, typically smearing everything into a mess, especially when it’s cold. Have your dealer disable this function (they can), and thank me later. Other gripes include the wide opening doors, which make entry a cinch but require drivers to lean far out of the car to close them, and the central touchscreen interface which works well but is starting to look dated compared to the competition.

End of the day, where gorgeous styling, slick AWD technology, some nice winter-ready touches and a level of classiness and sophistication are priorities, the XF shouldn’t disappoint. Pricing from $53,500 to start, with supercharged V6 power and AWD coming in from $61,500.

4 years/80,000 km; 4 years/80,000 km powertrain; 6 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 4 years/80,000 km 24-hour roadside assistance

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Model Tested 2015 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD
Base Price $61,500
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,375
Price as Tested $69,325
Optional Equipment
AWD Luxury Package ($6,000), Heated Front Windscreen ($350)