Jaguar's big cat unleashes its prowess.

2016 Jaguar XF S Review

A dynamic sports sedan with vigorous power and British charm

By: Lindsay Prossnitz

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: April 28th, 2016

Jaguar has done a more than respectable job of redefining itself from a company that rested the laurels of its dated but admittedly classic designs into a 21st century sport-luxury brand. Gone is the tired XJ of old, and now the long-in-the-tooth XK is gone, replaced by the awesome F-Type. It also recently added two new vehicles to its model lineup, the brand's first-ever SUV the F-Pace, and the $35,000 compact XE sports sedan. Both are meant to bring new, fresh faces to the brand and an ongoing push to compete with the German big boys.

But more than diversifying its lineup and including a lower-cost option vehicle, Jaguar has been on a powerful and noticeable design roll of late, and they have Ian Callum and his design magic to thank for this. When he debuted the XF at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show, it was a clear departure from its Lincoln LS-based and Ford partnered predecessor, the S-Type. While the all-new second generation model sees more subtle style evolution, it has emerged tauter and leaner. A lightweight body structure paired with a high-performance powertrain makes the XF S one exhilarating sports car, with levels of refinement both in and outside the cabin.

  • Driving Impressions

    The XF S benefits from a serious weight drop, with the rear-wheel drive setup eschewing a 132-pound decrease thanks to copious use of aluminum in the structure. The XF S has a sportier suspension, but never feels too harsh. It carries itself well, and does a graceful job of masking its size, moving smoothly and swiftly in and out of corners. The S at the end of the name hints to its sporty proclivities, while also denoting its power upgrade, with 40 more ponies for you ride. Some light growling from the engine reassures you of the healthy V6 under the hood, and once you hit the pedal, you'll never be thinking, "Gee, I could really use a V8." That's right. Gone is the thirsty but potent 5.0-liter supercharged V8, and only two V6 options remain: a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 with 340 hp or the 3.0-liter supercharged V6 with 380 hp like the one in our S.

    Adaptive Dynamics instinctively modify the vehicle's response to suit driving conditions and driver style, whether you're out cruising the boulevard or nailing the apexes.. According to Jaguar, steering and body movement are analyzed up to 500 times a second, affecting how much the electronically controlled dampers adjust to optimize suspension settings. All these behind-the-scenes effort equates to a supremely composed riding experience. But, when you want the XF S to let loose, Configurable Dynamics allow you select different driving modes to awaken the sporting character, with a sharper throttle.

    • Ride Quality: The XF S boasts a stiffer, lighter chassis that enables it to manage body roll better and improve handling while managing bumps and undulations. While the snarly V6 unleashes plenty of power, the XF S is still a gentleman, and remains composed on the road.
    • Steering: Steering is communicative and responsive thanks to Jaguar's Electric Power Assisted Steering. It carefully monitors vehicle speed and driver inputs to acutely calibrate the amount of assistance for every maneuver. It's precise in corners, never feeling too heavy nor too light.
    • Acceleration: The XF S is plenty quick with a 0-60 time of 5.1 seconds, but it also possesses linear power delivery and fluid shifting, making the car smooth in spite of its authoritative power. The XF S's ability to get you to very illegal speeds is deceptive thanks to the smooth power delivery. And when you turn the gearshift dial to "S" mode, it's as if it can sense your foot is approaching before you even hit the gas.
    • Braking: With a good pedal feel, the brakes are responsive, but not overly touchy. However, when you need to come to a complete stop after reaching speeds upward of 60 mph, they can bring you to a swift halt.
    • Handling: The XF S strikes a good balance between taut handling and solid composure. Grip is strong, while the mild understeer is more than manageable.

  • Technology and Safety

    If you're a techie, you'll be pleased to know you don't have to opt for a German competitor in order to get all the gadgets and features you want. The XF S's tech-laden interior helps you stay connected to all your devices on the road with a new, and much improved, standard infotainment system called Jaguar InControl. It's equipped with a suite of advanced tech systems that offer convenience and safety from allowing you to remotely check fuel levels and close your windows, to tracking your vehicle in the event of theft.

    While power and performance are at the top of the list of priorities for the XF S, it doesn't come without some backup. A rear camera with guiding lines comes standard on the XF, while the S trim adds advanced safety features found on the R-Sport, including reverse traffic detection, blind spot monitoring with closing vehicle sensing, and lane keep assist with driver condition monitoring.

    • Infotainment Screen Size/Quality: An 8-inch touchscreen provides quick response times, and is easy to manipulate and navigate through, with clear graphics displayed. The new system is more responsive than the previous one, a serious improvement that addresses one of our biggest complaints from older Jag and Land Rover models.
    • Bluetooth Phone Pairing: Seamless pairing, with the vehicle automatically synching up my phone every time I reentered.
    • Sound Quality: A 380-watt Meridian Sound System provides crisp acoustics throughout the vehicle, via 11 well-placed speakers.
    • Controls: The center stack is very well laid-out with a nice balance of physical knobs and buttons to adjust settings for cabin and seat temperatures. Everything is easy to reach and user-friendly.
    • Safety: Advanced safety systems in the XF S give you an extra set of eyes, while also helping to prevent an accident from even taking place. Our tester came with an optional head-up display that uses laser technology to project a range of important information on the windshield, such as speed and nav instructions, in colorful graphics.

  • Exterior Design and Styling

    While the XF S is an all-new model for 2016, you'll need to have a discerning eye to spot all the changes on this big kitty. Styling changes are subtle with a sleeker hood and roof, as well as leaner and more aggressive headlights. You probably won't put it on a scale, but one of the biggest changes is in the structure, which has been swapped from a steel-intensive structure to a mostly aluminum one with Jaguar's Lightweight Aluminum Architecture. Jaguar claims the new structure saves 132 pounds on rear-wheel drive models. The new XF S also has a two-inch longer wheelbase, though that will only be felt in the interior, as the overall length is actually a smidge shorter, and it sits a tad lower. The S trim adds some flair with 20-inch wheels, snazzy red brake calipers, and "S" branding.

    • Front: The hood cutline is now behind the nose, instead of slightly past the top of the grille frame , with bigger front air intakes. An upright grille and bulge on the hood give a more aggressive appearance, with signature J-Blade LED daytime running lights found on the F-Type.
    • Rear: Wrap-around LED tail lamps and an F-Type- style lighting pattern accent the rear. Gone are the more Ford Fusion-like taillamps from the 2015 car.
    • Profile: From the side, the XF S is sleek and athletic, with sweptback styling giving it an aerodynamic look. A single, elegant shoulder line runs the length of the body, while front ornamental fender vents are now horizontal instead of the old vertical position.

  • Driver and Passenger Comfort

    Jaguar's cabin is a nice blend of sport and luxury, offering a modern, sophisticated layout that doesn't go overboard. A mix of premium materials such as matte wood, carbon fiber, and leather are pleasing to both look at and feel. A peaceful cabin does a nice job of mitigating road noise, so that the only feedback you are hearing is the thirsting V6. A nice design element inside is the long swath of wood trim that extends from the above the door handles and across the expanse of the windshield. A fancy, if not unnecessary, touch.

    • Front Seats: Bolstered leather sport seats are comfortable and supportive, with ample bolstering to hug you when you're taking corners. They're also heated and cooled, so no discomfort can detract from your driving enjoyment.
    • Rear Seats: A generous backseat can accommodate three, though it'd be more comfortable for just two. Rear seats are also heated, and the second row enjoys ample head and leg room, with the latter increasing by about an inch.
    • Visibility: Overall, visibility is good. Forward visibility could be better, with rather thick bases of the A-pillar impeding it somewhat, but you get used to it as you drive.

  • Storage and Cargo Room

    A spacious interior doesn't just accommodate people well, but also things. With 19.1 cubic feet of trunk volume, the XF S gives a generous amount of cargo room to store your things. To accommodate larger items, the rear seat folds in a 40/20/40 split, making the rear more versatile. A Comfort and Convenience Pack also adds the nice touch of both a power trunk close and soft door close.

    • Storage: Jaguar does a nice job with the interior, not only making it visually appealing, but also ergonomic and functional. A larger arm rest provides a generous amount of holding space, along with deep side pockets, cup holders in front and back, and a little nook for your phone or change underneath the heating controls.
    • Trunk/Cargo Room: A generous trunk gives you the ability to load the XF S up, whether you're just running errands, or are piling in luggage for a weekend getaway. The opening is wide, though the load floor isn't completely flat with an elevated shelf just aft of the rear seatbacks.

  • Final Impressions

    The XF S is a well-rounded, extremely capable sports sedan. It has a vigorous V6 that will get your heart racing, with a nimble chassis that's even more efficient thanks to all the aluminum packed into it. Tasteful British craftsmanship on the interior design makes for a pleasing cabin you won't mind spending time in. It's spacious without ever feeling bulky, and is quick on its feet.

    With a top speed of 155 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 5.1 seconds, it's competitive in its class. Clearly aimed at tackling its German competition, the XF S offers equal sporting character and refinement, with its own unique charm. With less of them on the road than the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6, or Mercedes-Benz E-Class, it's also the more unique choice.

  • Specifications and Price

    Engine: 3.0-liter supercharged V6

    Transmission: 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters

    Drivetrain Layout: front engine, rear-wheel drive

    Power Output: 380 horsepower / 339 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 20 city / 30 highway

    Base Price: $62,700

    As Tested: $67,235 (incl. $995 destination)

    Standard Features: Adaptive LED headlights with auto high beam, stop-start, torque vectoring by braking, 20-inch wheels, leather seating, 14-way heated front sport seats, fold rear seat, heated steering wheel, moonroof, keyless entry, Lane Keep Assist, rear camera, Driver Condition Monitor, touch screen controls, navigation, Blind Spot Monitor, 380-watt Meridian sound system.

    Options on our test vehicle: Ammonite Grey-Metallic paint, head-up display, Comfort & Convenience Pack ($2,000) including: cooled front seats, heated rear seats, soft door close, and power trunk close.

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