Preview: 2016 Jaguar XF

Mid-size Jag adopts aluminum frame and subtle design updates

Launched in 2007, the Jaguar XF sedan revolutionized the brand’s design language, and as it turned out, proved to be very successful, selling about 250,000 copies to date. It saw its highest sales in 2014 with 48,000 sold.

Clearly, this is not a recipe Jag was about to screw up, so it’s with no great surprise we see this all-new second-generation 2016 XF as an evolutionary design that apes the original’s coupe-like profile.

Yet, let your gaze rest on its fetching flanks for a few moments and you realize this car telegraphs a considerably more masculine presence than the outgoing model. The grill is larger and more upright, and it sits on the road with a greater sense of purpose. It’s a tad lower and wider, with a longer wheelbase and shorter overhangs. No question, design director Ian Callum and his team have imbued this cat with more attitude.

Arriving early 2016, Canadian XF sedans will have all-wheel drive as standard (other markets get RWD) and we’ll see either a 340 hp or 380 hp supercharged 3.0L V6 engine, both mated to a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. Pricing will be announced closer to the launch date. The 2014 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD currently starts at $61,500.

A day before the XF’s official debut at the 2015 NYIAS, Jaguar caused a scene in mid-town Manhattan with a reveal in front of the Flatiron Building just before noon. Adding to the excitement was the presence of Mad Men actress and Jag spokesperson du jour Christina Hendricks, who pulled the wraps off this black specimen. The XF was perched on a mirrored pedestal that gave the illusion it was floating, the intent of course being to illustrate the lightness of this second-generation all-aluminum sedan that weighs about 120 kg less than the old model. The 2016 XF joins the Jaguar XJ executive saloon, F-Type sports car and upcoming XE compact sports sedan and F-Pace crossover in its aluminum-intensive architecture.

At a tech presentation later that day, Callum walked around the XF, a car he is rightly proud of. This gem kinda’ said it all: “We will chase every millimetre of the car to get the shape we want.”
The front of the car is especially fetching with its large trademark grille and sculpted hood with fluting over the slim headlamps, which, as Callum stated, are “always fun to do now with the modern technology”.

As it was important for the XF to be a sports sedan, Callum noted “The coupe proportion was necessary. It’s easy to go three box. Many competitors do that, but that’s not for us.” Continuing, “The shoulder line flows gently up from the headlight, along the flanks and tapers down towards the tail. Like all simple things, it was very difficult to do. It took us months to get it right.”
A unique detail is the rear quarter window, reminiscent of the old Mark IIs and Mark 10s.

Inside, the 2016 XF benefits from higher quality materials and a greater attention to detail. The basic design is similar to the outgoing XF, but the cabin is larger in all dimensions, with the back seat passengers enjoying more legroom and headroom.

On start-up, the XF’s sense of occasion carries forward as this new model retains the signature rotating air vents and rising rotary shift knob.

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 connects to the door panels. The centre console is deliberately high to increase the cossetting factor. Says Callum, “You sit in a Jaguar, not on it.”

An area where Jaguar has lagged of late is in its infotainment interfaces. New generation InControl Touch with an eight-inch pinch and swipe touchscreen looks promising. Moving up to the InControl Touch Plus bestows a 10.2-inch screen with enough connectivity features to keep the most iPad-obsessed happy. There is also an optional and configurable main instrument TFT screen that features pinpoint sharp graphics – a big improvement over the hazy TFTs in the current XJ and Range Rover. The TFT is matched with a laser head-up display.

A remote app for your phone shows where the car is parked and allows you to pre-heat or pre-cool it. Not sure if you locked the XF? Check your phone.

The nav will sync with other phones so loved ones can know of your progress, where you are, and when you’ll arrive. Also available is a feature that throws up a panoramic city view of your destination when within 200 metres, and it will help you find a place to park too.

Seriously, you could write a whole tome on what InControl Touch Plus can do, but they lost me on sending and receiving Tweets while driving using voice commands. Suffice to say, Jaguar has partnered with numerous specialists and suppliers to get in the connectivity game big time.

Along with being lighter than the previous XF, this new edition is 28 percent stiffer and has a drag coefficient of 0.26 versus 0.29.

Underneath the body, the 2016 XF sports an aluminum double-wishbone setup in front and an aluminum integral link rear suspension – Jaguar claiming the latter outperforms traditional multi-link in both ride and handling. Adaptive damping will be optional.

New for our all-wheel-drive cars is a chain-drive transfer case that is lighter, quieter and more efficient. Steering is electrically assisted, which will enable Jaguar to offer such premium necessities as lane-keeping assist and the like. They assure it will have class leading steering feel.

About a year after launch we will see a diesel-powered XF, and when queried about a V8 XF, the Jag brass were tight lipped but their smirks gave the game away. Can you say XFRS kids?

With promised improvements to ride, handling and fuel economy, this larger and better-looking 2016 Jag XF looks to be on a pretty sweet trajectory.

Ian Callum feels it. “It’s not frivolous, it has an honesty, and I think it will stand the test of time. One of my favourites.”

Arriving early 2016, Canadian XF sedans will have all-wheel drive as standard (other markets get RWD) and we’ll see either a 340 hp or 380 h 4/7/2015 10:04:02 AM