When the Jaguar XF bowed late 2007, it heralded in a new era of Jaguar design. Under the stewardship of design chief Ian Callum, the XF sedan broke the chains that had been binding Jaguar design to its past. No more round headlights and retro grills. Hello swoopy coupe-like profile and modern detailing. Yes, the XF was still identifiable as a Jag – Callum will always bless his cats with taut, sinuous surfaces and powerful haunches – but this saloon looked forward, not in the rearview mirror.
For 2016 we get an all new XF, built on fresh all-aluminum architecture that is shared with the smaller XE. The old XF’s underpinnings dated back to the Ford era, so with this 2016 model, every Jaguar vehicle can now brag aluminum-intensive construction.
The design is evolutionary – even a little less daring, but certainly muscular and elegant. Callum and his team have imbued this cat with more maturity. Being a tad lower and wider, and sporting a longer wheelbase with shorter overhangs, the new XF sits on the ground with decided purpose. It’s a handsome thing that flows elegantly from its prominent upright grill to the longer rear deck lid. Out back we see taillights that echo those of the legendary E-Type sports car. It cuts through the air better too, bragging a drag coefficient of 0.26 vs 0.29. Sprucing up this tester are 20-inch Labyrinth dark grey diamond-turned alloys ($700).
That said, the 2016 XF packs more visual punch in lighter shades. This Ammonite Grey ($600) tones it down to the point of near anonymity.
All Canadian XF models get all-wheel-drive and a ZF-sourced eight-speed manumatic. Tested here is the top cat (for now) – the XF S with a starting price of $72,900. All four corners claw at the tarmac courtesy of Jag’s 380-hp 3.0L direct-injected supercharged V6. Below the XF S sit the R-Sport ($69,900), the Prestige ($66,400) and the Premium ($61,400) – these three are powered by a 340 hp version of the same engine.
This S gets standard LED adaptive headlights, S exterior styling, reverse traffic detection, blind spot monitor with closing speed warning, auto high beam, lane keeping assist, driver condition monitoring, sport seats, SiriusXM radio and adaptive damping.
Inside we’re treated to the same bit of theatre the outgoing XF delivered on start up – the dash vents open like mini garage doors and the rotary gear selector rises phoenix-like from the console. The vertical dash panel theme is retained as well, but as would be expected everything looks richer and is built to a higher standard. The front seats are on the firm side yet offer fine lateral support and good long distance comfort.
Lifted from the page: Interview: Jaguar Designer Ian Callum
As with all Jags, the cabin feels intimate. A design feature borrowed from big brother XJ is the Riva Hoop – a narrow architectural detail that sweeps across the top of the dash and flows into the door panels. The centre console is deliberately high to increase the cossetting factor. Says Callum, “You sit in a Jaguar, not on it.”