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By Jonathan Crouch
Added 16th June, 2017
To celebrate a decade of XF production, Jaguar has introduced this second generation XF Sportbrake estate model. Jonathan Crouch looks at what's on offer.
If you think the big three prestigious German brands have the Executive car segment sewn-up, a drive in Jaguar's second generation XF may be enough to make you reconsider. Even in the face of tough competition from rivals like the BMW 5 Series, the Mercedes E-Class and the Audi A6, this car offers a compelling range of virtues. There's a choice of saloon or Sportbrake bodystyles.
The XF range hinges around a 2.0-litre diesel four-cylinder engine with 163, 180 or 240PS. There's also a 2.0-litre petrol unit with 200, 250 or 300PS. And two 3.0 V6s, a 300PS twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre diesel and a 380PS supercharged 3.0-litre petrol unit. As for design, well, from almost any angle, you'd know this was a Jaguar. You'd know this was an XF.
Lighter, more spacious, better-looking and a whole lot more efficient, this MK2 XF model worried the German makers more than any model Jaguar had previously brought us. There's nothing simple about producing a car as good as this one, a model that set fresh class standards in terms of its aluminium-intensive architecture, its running costs and its ride and handling balance. True, it might not have been the game-changer its predecessor was, but then it didn't need to be. That corner had already been turned. The old XF showed how Jaguar could compete on equal terms with its Teutonic rivals. This car though, demonstrated clearly how it meant to go about beating them.
Ultimately what was so masterful about this second generation XF was how cleverly Jaguar kept and built upon what was good about the original version, while being realistic about where the old car's weaknesses were. As a result, with this 'X260'-series car, you really can have a beautiful Executive class model that offers cutting-edge technology and a dynamic driving experience but which is also built in Britain and sips fuel like a supermini. These truly are amazing times.
Bold, innovative, forward-thinking and able to level with the class best, this XE proved to be the most credible Jaguar sports saloon we'd seen since the Sixties. It chased bigger sales but unlike some of its predecessors, didn't dilute crucial elements of brand credibility to do it. On the contrary, it's a model company founder Sir William Lyons might have been proud of. He sought to make cars that made their owners feel 'alive' and the objective of this one was exactly that, aiming at nothing less than a fresh dynamic benchmark in the German brand-dominated compact executive segment, a target it got very close to achieving.
Failings are relatively few. Yes, buyers will lack a little when it comes to boot space and some may find selected areas of the styling approach to be slightly conservative. There's nothing wrong with the fundamentals of this design though and the aluminium underpinnings that lie beneath that taut bodywork are more sophisticated than anything previously seen in this segment in this era. In short, this is an under-rated car. Before you opt for a used 3 Series, C-Class or A4 in this segment, seek an XE out. We think you might like it.
Jaguar's XE is much improved. Jonathan Crouch drives the volume D180 diesel version.
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