Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Thunderbirds are Go.
Back in the early 1970′s, I was obsessed with one TV programme, Thunderbirds. The whole concept of it grabbed my imagination, especially the gadgets that seemed so futuristic at the time, normally invented by a character called Brains. I particularly liked the pink Rolls Royce driven by Parker an ex con, who chauffeured his boss, the secret agent Lady Penelope. The reason my 7 year old self liked it so much, was primarily because at the touch of a button, the headlights of the Rolls would revolve round at the front of the car, revealing machine guns, normally used to shoot the car driven by the shows resident baddie the Hood.
Cut forward 40+ years & I’d like to think that the Jaguar XF designers used to watch this show too, as it features not unfortunately a revolving headlight/machine gun combo, but a pop up gear lever.
When the XF was launched in the UK it came initially with 6 cylinder engines that did not hold great appeal to the vast majority of company car drivers, because of their fuel efficiency, emissions & therefore large tax bill. Then in 2013 Jaguar, who have invested a lot of time & money in producing a 4 cylinder diesel engine worthy of the Jaguar name, finally achieved a figure for carbon dioxide emissions of 129g/km putting it right up there as a choice for those drivers who’s company threshold is 130g/km.
This improvement though, was still not really good enough, particularly when compared to new engines from BMW, Audi & Mercedes Benz. We at Company Car loved the first XF for it’s looks & it’s interior, but it didn’t necessarily offer customers in it’s sector enough room in the back or in the boot.
So, Jaguar had a re-think & in 2015, launched a new longer, lighter, aluminium bodied XF with emissions of just 109g/km & after a week driving one, I fell in love all over again.
If anything, the new XF is even more attractive than it’s predecessor. At first glance it may look the same, but look closer & you’ll notice wider, more streamlined rear lights, a lower roof line & a slimmer profile, mirroring the smaller XE, another gorgeous car. Indeed the cabin as well, now looks very much like the one I’d encountered on the XE recently & it’s all the better for it. The lovely two tiered curve across the top of the dash is a Scandinavian designers dream. The quality is excellent, the seats more comfortable & most importantly, there’s more room inside, particularly in the rear, where 3 adults will now fit comfortably in the 1.88 m wide car. Drive at night & the dash lights up in a wonderful sky blue, one of the highlights of the original car. It’s definitely a relaxing place to be.
Dominating the centre console, is the 8” widescreen infotainment system, which sits in the middle of the dash. It’s just as simple to use as the old one but now comes with sharper graphics & the extra inch in size, really does make a difference. The pop up gear knob is still there & the auto box is another winner in the XF, making light of long motorway miles whilst making for relaxing driving in town.
Even though the XF features a tapering roofline towards the rear of the car, there’s actually plenty of headroom in the back, just as in the XE & the extra length offers more leg room as well. At 540 litres, the XF now has a larger boot than both the BMW 5 Series (520 litres) & the Audi A6 (530 litres). The boots a good shape, easy to access & unlike the boot in the XE, should take almost everything a company car driver or their family needs.
The interior of my test model came with black trim & heated soft grain leather front seats, In fact, if I listed all of it’s goodies we would be here for a very long time, but here are just a few of those I’ve not already mentioned.
· 8″ Capacitive Touch-screen
· USB socket and Audio AUX Input
· iPod® Integration
· Bluetooth® telephone connectivity and Streaming
· Analogue dials with 5″ full colour central TFT-LCD display
· DAB Radio
· InControl Touch Navigation and WiFi
· R-Sport bodykit
· Sport Suspension Upgrade
· Heated Rear Windscreen
· Rain Sensing Windscreen Wipers and Automatic Headlamps
· Electric windows
· Partial LED rear lights
· Hill Launch Assist
· Jaguar Drive Control
· Electric Powered Assisted Steering (EPAS)
· Torque Vectoring by Braking (TVBB)
· Electric Parking Brake (EPB)
· Jaguar Smart Key System – Keyless Start (Stop/Start button)
· Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
· Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
· Pedestrian Contact Sensing
· Emergency Brake Assist
· Dynamic Stability Control & Traction Control
· Trailer Stability Control
· Bright Sports Pedals
· Driver and front passenger airbags
· Airbags – Front side
· Airbags – Full length side window curtain
· Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
· Rear Parking Aid
· Traffic Sign Recognition with Intelligent Speed Limiter (TSR with ISL)
· Brake Pad Wear Indicator
· Cruise Control with Automatic Speed Limiter (ASL)
· Heated front seats
· Lockable glovebox
In the week I had the XF, I had to drive to the south of England, almost entirely on motorways. The 2 litre diesel cruises effortlessly on the motorway, giving you the acceleration needed when required & with a simple to use cruise control system with ASL ( Automatic Speed Limiter) allowed me to set my preferred speed, sit back & let the XF do the work for me. Lower emissions have been Jaguars goal with the XF, but don’t think that makes it boring, far from it. My test car the R-Sport puts out 163 bhp & was no shrinking violet moving from 0-60 mph in 8.2 seconds & going on to a top speed of 132 mph. I couldn’t have picked a better companion. I found it as pleasing on the motorway, as anything I have ever driven & couldn’t find fault in it’s handling, which is much improved with the aluminium body really aiding this. For those of you who need to talk whilst on the move, the XF also features a simple to connect Bluetooth hands-free phone system, all controlled through the infotainment system & steering wheel controls. I utilised this on the motorway & it is one of the best I have come across.
As far as fuel economy goes, the XF really surprised me. Claimed combined figures on the XF I drove are 68.9 mpg. In my 7 days of driving, admittedly with a lot of motorway miles, I managed to achieve an average of 57.2 mpg, which is truly amazing for any car that I drive, but even more so in a large executive model.
To put your mind at rest, the XF comes with a three-year/unlimited mileage warranty. There’s also three years’ roadside assistance. Jaguar’s five-year/50,000-mile servicing package comes in at £525, which, surprise, surprise, is exactly the same price as BMW’s five-year/50,000-mile offering on the 520d. There’s also the option to extend this to a five-year/75,000-mile option for drivers who cover long distances for an extra £150.
The best thing about the XF though, is how it looks. Compared to the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E Class & Audi’s A6, the Jag’s curves make it stand out from the pack. On looks alone the XF will turn heads from 5 years to 80 years old wherever you drive.
Would I have one ? Absolutely ! It’s now closer than ever with 109g/km to fleet favourite the BMW 520d’s benchmark emissions, but it is spectacularly beautiful & is more than a match for the 520 in other areas. Can I suggest that if you are looking to change your company vehicle & the XF falls under your radar, give it a test drive. You won’t be disappointed.
Overall a FAB 4.5 out of 5.