2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD Road Test Review

By : Trevor Hofmann
  Jaguar’s midsize XF was completely redesigned for 2016 with a new aluminum-intensive body shell, reworked styling, a revised interior, improved infotainment and other upgrades, while the latest 2017 model year ushers in a new 2.0L turbo-diesel base engine. Today, however, we test the 340-hp 3.0L V6, which combines with an 8-speed auto, paddles and standard AWD for a 5.4-second sprint to 100km/h. Standard features include pushbutton start, a power steering column, power seats, 8-inch infotainment, a backup camera, 380-watt audio, etc. See .......
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
       
 
I don't envy the people in charge of any premium brand's mid-size E-segment offerings these days. While my personal favourite
2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
size as far as five-person luxury conveyances go, the vast majority of consumers are passing on their four-door sedans like proverbial hot potatoes, and instead opting for crossover SUVs that more often than not ride on the same cars' underpinnings. It's a trend that still seems to be growing, and a reality that's hurt brands predominantly in the "car" business.

Jaguar is one such premium marque. Its brand image steeped in luxury lore, not to mention rich with rarified motorsport heritage, but until recently it didn't offer a single SUV. Before the F-Pace, which after only six months is already the brand's bestselling model, Jaguar retailers needed only to guide their customers over to the Land Rover side of the showroom in order to find something with a raised ride height, five-doors and a handy hatch, but now JLR buyers have yet more variety to choose from.

F-Pace,
2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
incidentally, eclipsed all other Jaguar model sales combined in its first full month of availability in June of this year. It did the same thing in July, then strongly outsold its siblings in August and September, and nearly doubled them all combined last month, which interestingly made it the bestselling JLR SUV other than the Range Rover Sport in June, the overall bestseller in July, third out of six in August (is the honeymoon over already?), third once more in September (possibly?), and second to the RR Sport again in October (ok, it's still well ahead of most LRs). Jaguar is smartly preparing a second SUV to do battle in the subcompact class, so we can all expect the brand's sales to take a sharp upward trajectory. Even now the overall F-Pace effect to Jaguar's Canadian operations has resulted in growth from 1,296 units last year to 2,359 so far this year.

So where does that leave the XF? The mid-size luxury sedan actually does quite well
2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
amongst its Jaguar siblings, not to mention many of its E-segment competitors. Year-to-date sales put it second best behind the F-Pace, followed by the F-Type sports car, new XE sport sedan, and full-size XJ luxury sedan, the XF's second placement staying true even when adding up all the numbers over the past six months of XE sales. Also notable, despite lagging behind the bestselling Mercedes E-Class, slightly less popular BMW 5 Series, plus the Tesla Model S, Audi A6, and Cadillac CTS, the XF soundly outsold the Lexus GS, Infiniti Q70, Acura RLX, Lincoln MKS and Volvo S80 last year, while over the first 10 months of 2016 its sales have already moved well past all of last year's deliveries. If XF sales reached August and September levels over the next two months it might even get close to 2013's (and 2009's) high of 604 units, but even managing 2014's 567 would be a big boost in the right direction.

Some
2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
of this newfound XF enthusiasm is due to a thorough redesign of the 2016 model, which, other than a new turbo-diesel base engine, carries forward unchanged into 2017. The first generation had a healthy run, joining the Canadian market in 2008 as a 2009 model and ending production almost eight years later in 2015, although the 2012 facelift was so extensive that most buyers felt it was a complete redesign. Oddly, that mid-cycle X250 refresh was more visually dramatic than last year's ground-up X260 overhaul, the 2016 model saying goodbye to its mostly steel constructed Ford-sourced DEW platform (DEW98), which actually harks back to Jaguar's '99 S-Type, not to mention the '00 Lincoln LS and '02 Ford Thunderbird, and saying hello to an all-new Jaguar developed aluminum-intensive and therefore much lighter iQ architecture.

To be clear, this new second-generation XF might look similar to the outgoing model,
2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
but it shares very little with the car that came before. In fact, it has much more in common with the full-size XJ, the sensational F-Type sports coupe and roadster, plus the stunning new D-segment XE sport sedan and F-Pace SUV. The iQ modular platform uses much more lightweight aluminum than any rival, the key components being the entire unibody, the hood, front fenders, and suspension towers, which are actually high-pressure die-cast aluminum, while the crossbeam and front end carrier are formed from even lighter magnesium alloys, the result for our Canadian-spec car being 120 kilos (265 lbs) less curb weight when comparing new to old (and up to 190 kg/419 lbs in other markets), which along with 28 percent greater structural rigidity improves handling, NVH levels, crash protection, and fuel economy; the latter impressively low at 6.9 L/100km city/highway combined for the 20d, and 10.4 combined with the as-tested 35t.

The
2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
XF rides on a fully independent double-wishbone front suspension and an integral-link rear design that, in the case of my tester, is aided by optional Jaguar Adaptive Dynamics adjustable dampers, these monitoring body movement 100 times per second and wheel/tire movement 500 times per second while simultaneously comparing data with vehicle speed, lateral Gs, yaw, tire grip, etcetera, feeding all the info through various algorithms, concurrently factoring in individually chosen standard Jaguar Drive Control mode settings that include Normal, Eco, Rain/Ice/Snow plus Dynamic, and instantly adjusting the damper control valves for the best possible ride and handling compromise. You'll never be the wiser, which is as it should be, but instead Jaguar Adaptive Dynamics makes a good driver feel great, mediocre driver feel good, and so on.

This
2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
is aided by standard all-wheel drive for surer grip in all conditions, All Surface Progress Control that acts like low-speed cruise control in slippery situations, torque vectoring control via the ABS-enhanced four-wheel discs, plus of course performance-tuned traction and stability control.

My tester was upgraded with 20-inch twinned five-spoke alloys that not only enhanced performance but looked fabulous, these shod in 255/35ZR Pirelli Cinturato P7s for lots of that grip mentioned a moment ago, this particular XF R-Sport model needing all the road-holding capability it can get considering the power lurking behind its sporty new front fascia. All XFs, except for top-line S trim, come standard with the new in-house 2.0-litre turbo-diesel 20d four-cylinder with 180 horsepower and 318 lb-ft of torque, hooked up to a quick yet smooth shifting
2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic and AWD for an adequate albeit rather nonchalant 8.4-second saunter from standstill to 100km/h and a top speed of 195 km/h, whereas my Rhodium Silver bullet was upgraded to Jaguar's well-proven 3.0-litre supercharged 35t V6 for a much more satisfying paddle shift actuated 5.4-second sprint to 100km/h and a terminal velocity of 250 km/h. This more exuberant powerplant, which puts out 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, is available in Premium, Prestige and R-Sport trims, whereas an even zestier 380-hp version that shaves 0.1 seconds off the charge to 100km/h and adds a more exciting exhaust note comes standard in XF S trim.

All of this mechanical and digital kit combines for a wonderfully compliant ride that's still capable of extremely assertive handling, even when set to default Normal mode. I must admit I had mine in Dynamic
2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
sport mode most often, yet even set to maximum performance it was nevertheless wonderfully smooth and comfortable, albeit light and agile feeling no matter how sharply I turned it into a given corner. Likewise it took off from standstill at a blistering pace, the wonderful 35t producing a sinister snarl, although not to quite the same mischievous level as you'll find in an F-Type, or even the new F-Pace SUV. Obviously Jaguar thinks its luxury sedan buyer wants a more subdued experience, as it does similarly with the new XE, although don't forget you can upgrade to S trim if you want more excitement. The regular 35t still delivers a more performance-oriented experience than most competitors' offerings.

The
2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
change to supercharged V6 power from diesel moves the sticker price up from the XF's $60,000 base to just $62,000, making this upgrade one of the best performance deals anywhere, while base Premium trim includes auto on/off HID headlamps with LED signature lights, 18-inch alloys, branded metal doorsills, pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, a universal garage door opener, rain-sensing wipers, genuine aluminum interior inlays, a five-inch full-colour TFT multi-information display, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a powered tilt and telescopic steering column, dual-zone auto climate control, an eight-inch Jaguar InControl Touch infotainment display with a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, 380-watt 11-speaker Meridian audio, powered front seats with driver-side memory, InControl Protect, InControl Remote, 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks, all the usual active and passive safety gear, and more.

The
2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
$67,000 Prestige upgrades the rims to 19s while adding puddle lamps, proximity-sensing keyless entry, LED mood lighting, a heatable steering wheel, heatable front seats, four-way powered lumbar support, leather upholstery, navigation, front and rear parking sensors with visual indicators, InControl Apps, and more; whereas the $70,500 R-Sport I tested includes unique exterior styling elements such as a sportier front fascia, side sill extensions and a rear deck lid spoiler, special satin-chrome detailing, gloss black window surrounds, LED headlamps with adaptive cornering and auto high beams, signature daytime running lights, upgraded sport seats, satellite radio, closing vehicle sensing, autonomous
2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
emergency braking, blindspot monitoring, reverse traffic detection, lane keeping assist, and driving condition monitoring, the latter to make sure you're not nodding off to sleep at the wheel.

You'd have to be near death to fall asleep while driving the thoroughly invigorating XF 35t R-Sport, mind you, despite its superbly comfortable snuggly fitted seats and luxuriously appointed cabin. All of those aforementioned features come wrapped up in one of the segment's most attractive sport sedans, which carries its good looks right through to its interior design. The dash top, normally soft synthetic, was optionally trimmed in stitched leather, while most of the instrument panel and all four door uppers were done out in the rich pliable composite
2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
just mentioned, whereas the door inserts just below are covered in gorgeous contrast stitched leathers that nicely match the sharply suited sport seats. At least as opulent, the roof pillars and roofliner were wrapped in deep black pseudo suede, while genuine metals abound, the inlays detailed out in a fabulous textured aluminum and the rotating gear selector, which powers up out of the console, rimmed in a classic satin alloy.

My only knock against the XF is that Jaguar expended most of its money above the waistline, with the lower dash, glove box lid, sides of the centre stack and lower console, plus the lower door panels uncharacteristically covered in hard shell plastic, somewhat lowbrow for this segment. It's a shame because everything else, except for the rather cheap feeling sunglasses holder overhead, is done to such a high standard.

The
2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
gauge package in my tester, for instance, was upgraded to a fully configurable TFT display with superb graphics, sharp resolution, and rich colours. The same goes for the optional 10.2-inch widescreen infotainment system atop the centre stack, filled with Jaguar's latest digital tech, not to mention cool scenic graphics that include an iconic red British phone booth for device connectivity, text messaging and audio streaming, plus additional photo graphics to prompt navigation with 3D mapping, the audio system, etc, while the backup camera featured dynamic guidelines for easy parking. Of note, Jaguar has yet to include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, MirrorLink, et al in either of its infotainment systems, although Jaguar's downloadable InControl smartphone app allows reasonably versatile connectivity,
2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
and companion apps for syncing maps, etcetera are available, while I should also mention the top-line system has no voice-to-text functionality.

The XF is reasonably roomy when compared to others in its mid-size category, but from the driver's seat it doesn't feel all that much bigger than the new XE, which is slightly larger than the average D-segment competitor. It's more about width than length, however, the XF only 30 mm (1.2 inches) wider than the XE and therefore not much roomier up front, but in the rear the E-segment car's legroom is much more generous thanks to 282 mm (11.1 inches) of added length overall, this also improving the size of the trunk from the XE's already sizeable 450-litre (15.9 cubic-foot) cargo hold to a golf bag gobbling 505 litres (17.8 cubic feet) with the XF.

While
2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
spacious, the trunk isn't finished to the same high standard as its closest German competitors, lacking bright metal for the tie-down rings and protector plate. It's plenty practical, however, the trunk sill protector made from heavy duty plastic, while as noted earlier, Jaguar includes 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks allowing longer items, such as skis, to be stowed down the centre so that rear occupants can enjoy greater comfort as well as the outboard seat heaters when equipped, as my tester was. Jaguar also upgraded my ride with dual auto HVAC controls on the backside of the front console.

Now that we're back in the rear seat, I had about five to six inches ahead of my knees when the driver's seat was set to my five-foot-eight medium-build frame plus three to four above my head, which is more than the XE's rear headroom, while there were five or so inches from my outside shoulder to the window. The rear
2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
seatbacks are very comfortable with good lower back support, while the centre armrest flips down at a good height for an adult. My test car also included manual sunshades at the side and a powered rear shade to keep rear passengers out of direct sunlight.

The previously noted heatable rear seats came as part of a $2,050 Comfort and Convenience Pack that also included cooled front seats, auto cinching doors, and a powered trunk lid, while my tester's $2,950 Premium Interior Upgrade Pack included the aforementioned psuede roofliner (which also includes suede sunvisors), the four-zone HVAC system, and the rear sunshades, while adding illuminated doorsill plates, configurable mood lighting, and upgraded carpeted floor mats.

Additionally,
2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
my test car featured the $3,100 Technology Pack that wowed with the 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster mentioned before, while also adding upgraded InControl Touch Pro Connected Navigation along with real-time traffic, a route planner app, an arrival mode, destination sharing, InControl Pro services, Wi-Fi, voice activation, a 60GB solid-state hard drive with 10 gigs reserved for entertainment, the pièce de résistance 17-speaker, 825-watt Meridian surround sound system, which is a life-changer for audiophiles, and more.

Lastly, the previously noted Adaptive Dynamics suspension was a $1,000 extra, the upgraded 20-inch wheel and tire upgrade added $1,500, while my car also included a $400 heated windshield, $835 worth of branded
2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
rubber floor mats and wheel locks, plus $600 worth of metallic paint, bringing its total to $82,935 before adding freight, fees and taxes.

Jaguar could have added more, a $3,400 Driver Assistance Package still available with adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree surround camera, surround park distance control, self-parking capability, traffic sign recognition, etcetera, plus a $1,300 standalone head-up display, standalone burl walnut, satin ash burl, carbon fibre trim adding $400, $400, or $800 respectively, and various no-charge interior colour themes, but my tester's standard black leather upholstery and piano black lacquered trim looked great and the rest of its feature set was more than enough.

I
2017 Jaguar XF R-Sport 35t AWD
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
could go on and on but I've outstayed my welcome so I'll summarize: the new XF is not only worthy of direct comparison against its main German rivals, but it beats them in key areas. Its six-cylinder powertrain is more entertaining and driving dynamics more engaging, both of which are at least partially due to the car's lightweight aluminum construction, while its features are superb, interior mostly up to par, and styling arguably more endearing. That it also represents excellent value makes it even more difficult to understand why the XF doesn't enjoy more sales success, especially when factoring in its highly respected brand heritage. Nevertheless Jaguar will need to be satisfied with the XF's recent bump in popularity and hope that word on the street drives more interest, because it's fully deserving of your undivided attention.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)
 
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