Cape Town - Enhanced design, upgraded tech and considerably lighter... Jaguar's second-generation XF is on the prowl in South Africa.
While it may not appear all that different from the outgoing model, underneath the metal it uses Jaguar Land Rover’s new modular platform, the same architecture that the new XE and the SA-bound F-Pace SUV are based on.
The new luxury sedan receives a nip-and-tuck for 2016 with subtle design tweaks and has shed a significant amount of weight - it weighs 190kg less than the outgoing model.
Image gallery: 2016 Jaguar XF
Manufactured at JLR's Castle Bromwich factory in Birmingham, England, the new XF is the middle-child of Jaguar's sedan range as sits between the XE and XJ models.
The new XF range comprises of four variants; XF Prestige, XF R-Sport, XF Portfolio, XF S. Power is provided with a choice of three units; 132kW 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel, 177kW 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol and 3.0-litre V6 supercharged petrol tuned to either 250kW or 280kW.
All engines are mated to an eight-speed ZF auto driving power to the rear wheels.
Like many automakers in SA, Jaguar is reeling from the affects of the volatile Rand, this means prices start from R714 000 for the entry-level diesel to R1.1-million for the top-of-the-range 3.0-litre S.
At 4.9m, the new XF is 7mm shorter than its predecessor but it's modular aluminium-intensive architecture allows for an increased wheelbase by 51mm to 2.9m. Its longer wheelbase translates to 15mm more rear legroom, 24mm more rear knee-room and up to 27mm rear headroom. Its front overhang is 66mm shorter.
First up is its 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel power the entry-level XF. It's rated at 132kW/430Nm. Fitted with the 2.0-litre diesel it reaches 100km/h in 8.1 seconds and a top speed of 229km/h.
The diesel is the most frugal and environmentally-friendly engine in the pack, with fuel consumption rated at 4.3 litres/100km (17% less than the previous 2.2-litre diesel) and emissions of 114g/km.
The 2.0-litre supercharged petrol, used in the XE, delivers 177kW/340Nm, enabling the luxury sedan to reach 0-100km/h in 7 seconds and a top speed of 248km/h. Fuel consumption is rated at 7.5 litres/100km with emissions of 179g/km.
The range-topping 3.0-litre supercharged V6, borrowed from the F-Type sports car, is available in two power outputs - 250kW and 280kW while maximum torque is rated at 450Nm for both.
The V6 marks the first time the 280kW version has been used in a Jaguar sedan and is reserved exclusively for the XF S. Equipped with this supercharged petrol, the XF-S reaches 100km/h in 5.3 seconds and an electronically-limited maximum speed of 250km/h.
Despite being nine years old, the outgoing XF is one of the best-driving cars in its segment, so I had high hopes for the second-generation. Does it deliver? In short, yes but sadly in terms of performance it won't blow you away.
Due to its considerable weight-loss, brought on by its alluminium-intensive diet, the XF is nimble and gracefull on the road. Add lighter, accurate power steering and you have a large sedan that drives and handles like a much smaller vehicle.
The XF handles the demands of flat-out pace with supreme composure, couple this with a supple ride and you're treated to one of the best driving experiences in its class.
The F-Type's supercharged V6 provides adequate acceleration in either trim but it's just not scintillating, at least not in the XF.
A treat for drivers is the addition of a symposer, feeding some of the supercharged V6 roar back into the cabin, though overall the V6 sounds less enthusiastic than the unit fitted to the F-Type.
Due to its 50:50 weight-distribution it's a well-balanced car. Turn-in is crisp, aided by power-assisted steering, and its passive and adaptive dampening through corners keeps the large sedan hunkered-down. Jaguar's engineers managed to deliver excellent dynamics with minimal sacrifice to ride quality.
Its suspension is able to soak up most bumps along Sandton's back roads with ease.
It's handling and impeccable road manners makes this classy Jag a worthy alternative to the current generation of Bavarian rivals.
First developed for the F-Type, Configurable Dynamics allows the driver to individually tailor the throttle mapping, transmission shift strategy, steering feel and Adaptive Dynamics settings using the touchscreen.
Configurable dynamics is available on all V6 models equipped with Adaptive Dynamics.
Steering, transmission, suspension
The transmission controller monitors driving styles and adapts shift patterns to suit. The ECU is also networked to the Jaguar Drive Control, offering even quicker shifts in Dynamic mode, and earlier up-shifts in Eco mode.
Electric power steering replaces the hydraulic assistance of its predecessor allowing for driver assistance programs such as lane-assist, driver condition monitoring and self-parking (both parallel and alley dock).
The new sedan uses a double-wishbone front suspension modelled closely on the setup used by its F-Type sibling.
Its improved styling is largely evolutionary, noticeably fresh elements are its head and taillights (based on the F-type), new grille and revised rear-end.
Inside, the interior has been redesigned with the instrument panel sporting the automaker's signature ‘Riva Hoop’, inspired by XJ. The cabin is enhanced by generous application of veneers and textured aluminium trim.
Overall, the interior is stunning and the XF is equipped with a variety of gadgets and technology including forward-collision alert, 360 cameras, self-parking and driver-drowsiness alert.
Features include 20cm InControl Touch display, four-zone climate control, 10-colour ambient lighting, black suede cloth headliner and fluted Windsor leather seats. The InControl Touch system, used in the XE, monitors the car's systems as well as your smartphone via Bluetooth or USB.
It's also the first Jaguar to use adaptive full-LED headlights - if specified with high-beam assist, the system detects other vehicles in the distance and dip the headlights automatically.
Standard safety features include traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and a reversing camera.
Laser head-up display
The new XF uses the automaker's laser head-up display (HUD) capable of projecting key information (vehicle speed, gear-shift indicator etc) onto the windscreen. The colour images are exceptionally sharp and are adjustable both in height and in brightness.
The 2016 Jaguar XF provides a refreshingly British change of pace in the local midsize luxury-sedan market dominated by German rivals. Balance is the XF's greatest strength; it's fast, surprisingly nimble and somewhat softer on the road than its rivals.
It feels more sophisticated, modern and is a great improvement over the outgoing model. XJ, XE, F-Type... the 2016 XF is yet another brilliant model for the British automaker. Here's hoping Jaguar continues its range of great vehicles with the local launch of its F-Pace later in 2016.
BMW 5 Series
2.0 Prestige Diesel - R714 800
2.0 Prestige Petrol - R755 153
2.0 Portfolio Petrol - R856 253
2.0 R-Sport Diesel - R782 700
2.0 R-Sport Petrol - R822 953
3.0 R-Sport V6 250kW - R1 045 503
3.0 S V6 280kW - R1 186 803
SPORTY OVERTONES: Improved design, upgraded tech and considerably lighter... Jaguar turns on the British charm with the arrival of its second-generation XF in South Africa.