Despite the avalanche of SUVs, including sporty ones like Jaguar’s own F-Pace, I would happily take a good old sports sedan anytime of the day.
No matter how talented the chassis tuning team is – and they are a talented bunch – the laws of physics can never be fully tamed; and for drivers like us, nothing matches the balance and nuance of a well-engineered sedan, especially one from Jaguar.
So, when JLR offered the latest XF to us, there was only one possible answer – YES PLEASE!
To make things even more enticing, the loan car was the most potent and sportiest of the four-cylinder range – the 30t R-Sport, which was added to the XF line-up late last year along with the gorgeous new Sportbrake sport wagon.
What do I get for the money?
The XF 30t starts from $84,100 for the Prestige variant, while our mid-range R-Sport is priced from $90,100 plus on-road costs. There’s also a Portfolio model priced from $98,100.
All three are powered by the new, sweet-sounding (albeit artificial) high-output 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder Ingenium petrol that delivers a healthy 221kW of power at 5,500rpm and 400Nm at 1,000 – 4,500rpm. It is the most powerful of the four-cylinder range before stepping up to the supercharged V6.
Zero to 100km/h is dispatched in just 5.8 seconds, while top speed is rated at 250km/h. As the sportiest variant, the R-Sport is also equipped with sports suspension to put its power to good use.
Standard features cover the basics expected of the class; so all variants come with satellite-navigation, automatic bi-xenon, adaptive headlights, a racy red and black leather interior, 10-way electric front seats with driver memory, electrically adjustable steering column, automatic parking, 19-inch alloy wheels, acoustic laminated windscreen and a 380W Meridian Sound System.
However, our test car is also equipped with a jaw-dropping $40,000 worth of options, including the $5,380 InControl Touch Pro Navigation Pack that brings the upgraded Navigation Pro and 12.3-inch Interactive Driver Display, and the $4,360 Active Safety Pack with Blind Spot Monitor, Reverse Traffic Detection, Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist, Lane Keep Assist and Driver Condition Monitor, to name a few – all of which should to be standard.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also not available, even as an option, while Digital Radio is a pricey $950 option.
What’s new outside?
Compared to the original XF of 2007, the second-generation model might look like a facelift but it has been substantial changed even if you can’t see them. Its all aluminium body is up to 190kg lighter than before, while the front suspension is borrowed from the F-Type sports car.
Look closer and you’ll notice its front grille is larger and wider, while quarter windows have been added to the sides to make the car longer. Around the back, the partially LED taillights gain new Jag trademark light signatures that are always on.
The R-Sport also features a more aggressive and attractive body kit with gloss black window surround, black grille with Satin Chrome surround, body coloured extended side sills and Satin Chrome side vents with R-Sport badge.
Our tester is additionally equipped with optional handsome 20-inch wheels that fills out the wheel arches better. Overall design is more modern yet retain the timeless elegance from the first-generation XF.
What’s new inside?
Despite the new model being slightly smaller than the old one, interior space has increased significantly thanks to a longer wheelbase. That means better rear legroom and access to the back is also improved thanks to the larger rear doors.
Once inside, the plush leather seats not only ensure your back is properly looked after even for longer journeys, but also provide good lateral support when the road gets twisty.
The 8-inch widescreen infotainment system (upgraded to 10-inch dual-view on our test car) sits in the middle of the dash and features sharp graphics and smartphone-like responsiveness and gestures. There are also short-cut buttons on both sides of the screen to take you directly to functions like the radio, sat-nav and climate.
Besides Bluetooth, the XF comes with a decent level of connectivity in the form of InContorl apps, which include contacts for your phone and calendar. Those who tick the $630 InControl Protect option can also track your car if it’s stolen.
You still get the rotary gear selector which rises out of the centre console when you press the pulsating starter button while the air vents rotates open at the same time for a sense of occasion. However, the centre air vents are now fixed in position.
Cabin materials are good as you’d expect at this level, with excellent fit and finish, although some plastic on the lower parts of the dash and doors are hard to the touch and let down the otherwise premium cabin.
The automatic boot lid opens to reveal a deep 505-litre cargo area that is expandable for extra long items via a lever in the boot.
How does it drive?
While rivals are seemingly getting ever more complex requiring endless setups to get the best out of their cars, the Jaguar XF is refreshingly good to drive straight out of the box.
It’s still worth ticking the $1,160 adjustable suspension option though because on what passes as roads in Australia, it delivers a more compliant ride and confident handling.
You can still configure the steering, suspension, engine and gearshift to your own liking and driving style but there’s just normal or dynamic mode to choose from rather than a bewildering array like most rivals. I find putting everything bar the steering in dynamic provides the ideal set up to extract the best out of the XF.
It’s beautifully balanced and is a delightfully involving car to drive, with uncorrupted and communicative steering, great brakes and sticky Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres.
The Ingenium engine has excellent low speed tractability and a chubby mid-range that is confidence inspiring when plugging the gap in the traffic.
What lets it down slightly is the rather crude operation of the adaptive cruise control system where you hear the system applying the brakes when slowing down for a slow moving vehicle ahead.
Design & Comfort
Performance & Handling
Equipment & Features
- R-Sport’s handsome styling and comfortable interior
- Punchy turbo Ingenium engine to match capable and entertaining chassis
- Beautifully balanced chassis and delightfully involving to drive
- Expensive options
- Crude adaptive cruise control operation
With the most powerful turbocharged 4-cylinder engine in the range and in athletic R-Sport guise, the latest 2019 Jaguar XF 30t is the car for the driver – desirable and great to drive straight out of the box.
Its engaging dynamics and well balanced chassis puts it above most SUVs, and if that’s a point of contention, the XF Sportbrake offers the best of both world.
2019 Jaguar XF 30t R-Sport Sedan pricing and specification
|Price (Excl. on-road costs):||From: $90,100|
As tested: $131,520
|Warranty:||3 years/100,000 kilometers|
|Warranty Customer Service:||3 years/100,000km roadside|
|Country of Origin:||United Kingdom|
|Service Intervals:||12 months/26,000km|
|Engine:||2.0-litre in-line 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol with stop/start:|
221kW @ 5,500rpm, 400Nm @ 1,500-4,500rpm
|Power to Weight Ratio (W/kg):||139.2|
|0-100km/h (seconds):||Claimed: 5.8|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):||Claimed: 7.6 / Tested: 10.2|
|Fuel Capacity (L):||74|
|Body:||4-door sedan, 5 seats|
|Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:||4,954/1,880/1,457/2,960|
|Turning Circle Between Kerbs:||11.61|
|Kerb Weight (kg):||1,660|
|Boot Space (min/max)(L):||540/885|
|Towing Capacity (kg):||Braked: 2,000|