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Driven: Jaguar XF S. Image by Jaguar.

Driven: Jaguar XF S
Jaguar XF comes alive with supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol in the S. As it should.


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Jaguar XF S

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: S specification makes the most of XF's interior and exterior design, exquisite ride quality, dynamically adept, not as expensive as you might think.

Not so good: good as it is, we're waiting for an XFR, please, Jaguar...

Key Facts

Model tested: Jaguar XF S
Price: XF from 32,300; S from 49,995; car as tested 58,715
Engine: 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: four-door saloon
CO2 emissions: 198g/km (Band J, 500 VED first 12 months, 270 annually thereafter, if registered before April 1, 2017; 1,510 first 12 months, 450 per annum next four years, 140 per annum thereafter, if registered after April 1, 2017)
Combined economy: 34mpg
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
0-62mph: 5.3 seconds
Power: 380hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 450Nm at 4,500rpm

Our view:

Last time we drove a second-generation Jaguar XF, it was a promising executive saloon car that was hobbled by an unusual, mixed-up specification that tried to match tax-beating characteristics with an element of performance. The 163hp 2.0-litre diesel R-Sport therefore didn't blow us away. And that's a shame, because the original XF was a car that we loved in all its multifarious guises.

What we could see, though, was that - with the right boxes ticked on the order form - the XF MkII had all the potential to take on the class elite in this mid-sized executive sector. And order form boxes don't come any more 'right' than the ones that say '380hp 3.0-litre supercharged petrol V6, if you will' and 'I want it in full-on S format'. Hence, here's the XF S, in our company for a week to see if could elevate the Jaguar to the top step of its market podium.

Via the simple expedient of some big 20-inch alloys (1,230 diamond-turned Labyrinth design), the subtle body kit of the XF S and a nice exterior colour, this Jaguar looks every inch the premium part and there are none of the aesthetic concerns we had about the R-Sport we drove a few months back. Ditto the interior, although that wasn't an issue on the 2.0-litre diesel anyway - but the S cabin is a lovely place to spend some time. Provided you don't get it in the rather daring red-and-black colour scheme that Jaguar offers, that is.

Anyway, inside and out, the XF S looks stunning. And then you drive it, and everything comes together beautifully. Packing the 380hp supercharged engine as found in the F-Type V6 S (the smaller, visually similar XE S is powered by the 340hp iteration of this unit that's used in the entry point F-Type V6) and using the silken ZF eight-speed automatic, the XF S is a wonderful performer in a wide variety of situations. It has crisp steering and sharp body control, although we would say its longer wheelbase compared to the XE S makes it a less overtly sporty drive than its stablemate. This is more of an executive express with a focus on comfort before outright acuity, and it's all the better for it because the ride quality is absolutely exquisite as a result. Even on the mighty alloys stuffed into each wheel arch, the XF S doesn't once introduce thuds and bangs into a cabin that's concomitantly supremely well-insulated from external noise contributors. So it's a proper Jag in the finest traditions, all hushed and comfortable when you need it to be; and on the motorway, where its big V6 is running under-stressed, it'll genuinely return as good as - if not more than - the 34mpg quoted combined economy.

Not that the V6 lacks for aural charm as a result of its impeccable refinement. It might not have the outrageously loud sound effects in the same style as its application in the F-Type, but extend it up beyond 4,000rpm and there's a pleasingly menacing growl to the engine. It's smooth, too, as it delivers its abundant power as one clean, rich seam of acceleration. It's actually a highly deceptive car in that respect, so keep a close eye on that lovely TFT speedo if you're going to keep digging deep into the throttle's travel, as the XF S can swiftly accumulate massive velocity in a disarmingly easy fashion.

In brief, it's a supremely polished dynamic act from the XF S in all departments, so much so that we actually think the 49,995 list price is pretty reasonable. The Jaguar is cheaper than both the ageing Audi S6 and also the brand-new Mercedes-AMG E 43, which is a handy little bonus. Crucially, for that cash the XF S does feel like a genuine, understated high-performance saloon - even with quite a few needless options, the price stayed the right side of 60k for our test car. Therefore, a thumping great 380hp petrol version of the Jag makes a good deal of sense at this price point; and of the extras fitted, we'd definitely advocate the 970 panoramic roof, the 1,265 head-up display pack and the 1,225 InControl Touch Pro upgrade - not for what it does to the satnav, but more because it brings in the 380-watt Meridian Surround Sound System that's an absolute corker.

A magnificent performance from the XF S during our week with it has thus eradicated the memory of the underwhelming 2.0-litre diesel model and completely restored our faith in Jaguar's mid-sized saloon. Indeed, the S spent a week in our company alongside Ford's show-stopping Focus RS mega hatch, yet somehow the Jaguar managed to avoid being overshadowed by the bright blue five-door, even convincing us to reach for its key fob rather than the Ford's on occasion. Nevertheless, what this brilliant S chiefly does for us is this: it makes us yearn even more for the inevitable XFR that will be on the way. A supercharged V8, 550hp-plus... yep, that should be something well worth waiting for. In the meantime, the XF S does a fine job of plugging Jaguar's performance car gap.


Audi S6: this generation of A6 is due to be phased out next year and the 450hp/550Nm S6 is the forgotten man of the range. It's quick, but not massively involving, unlike the enthralling XF S.

BMW 540i: unlike Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz - all of whom link to their performance brands with the rival machines - BMW makes no reference to M with the new 540i, so it's a discreet car in this company.

Mercedes-AMG E 43 4Matic: powerful and, as with the Audi, has the benefit of all-wheel drive, although don't be fooled by the AMG badging - it's not the most thrilling four-door you can pilot.

Matt Robinson - 19 Dec 2016

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2015 Jaguar XF S. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XF S. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XF S. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XF S. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XF S. Image by Jaguar.

2015 Jaguar XF S. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XF S. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XF S. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XF S. Image by Jaguar.2015 Jaguar XF S. Image by Jaguar.


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