Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: August 7, 2021
Chances are you will be seeing plenty more F-Paces on the road than XF Sedans. SUVs are just more popular with the masses, and the XF model line up clearly reflects that. There is only one trim available: XF R-Dynamic P300 AWD. That means a 296-hp, 2.0-litre turbo-four engine is all that’s available, mated to a smooth shifting 8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive, and a 0-100 km/h time of 6.1 seconds. There’s no V6 and no plug-in hybrid available, but that may have been a smart move for Jaguar, diverting their resources to their heavy hitters rather than their low-volume offerings. At least they still offer a sedan. And while the XF has always been objectively inferior to the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6, and Mercedes E-Class, it’s still an overwhelmingly charming alternative for those seeking something outside the box of bratwursts.
The 2021 model brings slight revisions to the XF’s exterior, with slimmed down headlights and a refreshed grill design, augmenting its already attractive shape. I’ll admit, I don’t find the new iterations of E-Class and 5 Series visually attractive, as they have both become soft around the edges, but the Jaguar seems to get better and better with each iteration, aging gracefully like a fine bottle of wine. The XF manages to capture an elegant and sleek silhouette, that just wasn’t quite fully-formed with the compact XE. The rear three-quarters is even more distinctive. I would love to see SV’s take on the XF one day, with flared fenders, quad exhausts, and an aerodynamic body kit to put up a fight against the BMW M5, much like they did with the XE SV Project 8. The XF has the silhouette, chassis, and potential for it but alas, some things weren’t meant to be.
The most important change with 2021 is with the interior, and Jaguar has pulled off yet another beautiful design, mixing minimalism with classic English charm. The massive, 11.4-inch glass touchscreen is the star of the show, and JLR have finally equipped an infotainment system that is up to the task, lag-free, and includes all the connectivity features that the modern age demands. Touch commands respond instantly, the menus have been de-cluttered for a seamless experience, and the system takes full use of the large screen format. While it’s not as large as the one in the Tesla Model S, we found it easier to use than the touchscreens in the Porsche Taycan and Mercedes E-Class. Be that as it may, we did discover that the audio kept cutting out at random times, especially when the start/stop system re-engages, forcing us to fiddle around with the audio controls to summon it back to life.
The new gear shifter is a small, rock-sized obelisk, somewhat mimicking Audi’s design, but it is a shame that it’s wrapped in a cheap feeling suede material, as it’s one of the most frequent touch points for the driver. The steering wheel on the other hand is a work of art, which first debuted in the electric i-PACE. One of the most attractive wheels in the business, it not only looks premium but it also feels upscale with glossy buttons that are on the same league as the E-Class, albeit a bit shy of quality and fit and finish when compared to the Audi A6. There are substantial metal paddle shifters flanking the wheel as well, which is odd as these are normally reserved for Italian sports cars like the Maserati Ghibli or Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglios, so seeing them here is a positive note, and they greatly elevate the XF’s upscale vibe. Sadly, we didn’t find much use for them, as the P300 powertrain lacks the verve and vigour of a sports sedan.
While sufficient to propel the smaller compact XE sedan, the turbo-four here feels lethargic and diminutive in this larger XF application, showcasing its poor low-end torque, turbo lag, and inconsistent transmission that while smooth, just can’t cope with last minute acceleration demands. A heavy chassis with all-wheel drive bogs it down further, though it does ride quite nicely: firm and consistent, though not as boat-like and isolating like the E-Class.
On a warmer note, the P300 is undeniably fuel-efficient. We averaged 10.1 L/100km on a mix of both city and highway driving, mighty impressive in this segment. It still requires premium 91-octane fuel, and we miss the days when Jaguar offered their diesel engines. We would also love to see a fully electric XF Sedan in the future, something to breed competition against the Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model S, though we hear down the rumour mill that Jaguar will soon be unveiling a fully electric XJ.
What the Jaguar XF lacks in popularity and brand pedigree, it makes up for in charm, unique road appeal, and a price tag that undercuts its competition by a few thousand dollars. It’s not the most effective daily driver, nor does it provide a smooth, gentle powertrain to match its alluring sheetmetal, but its interior is clearly up to par with the best, offering all the upscale amenities expected in a modern executive sedan. Many will opt for the more functional and practical F-Pace SUV instead, but the XF still makes a case for itself, and should warrant a closer look for those who want to stand outside the proverbial box.
Model: 2021 Jaguar XF P300 R-Dynamic AWD
Paint Type: Bluefire Blue
Base Price: $60,570
Price as Tested: $64,690
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,962 / 1,982 / 1,456
Curb weight (kg): 1,744
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower: 296 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 295 lb-ft @ 1,500 - 4,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway ) L/100km: 10.6 / 7.7
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 10.1