First Drive

2015 Jaguar XF 3.0 TDV6 review

Range-topping diesel XF won't be a huge seller, but it still needs to overcome tough competition from the likes of Audi and BMW. We drive it on UK roads for the first time

Words ByRory White

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Hot on the heels of Jaguar's recently launched compact XE is its brand new large executive, the XF. While the majority of XFs sold in the UK will be driven by company car drivers choosing the four-cylinder diesel engine for its better CO2 emissions, at the top of the range sits this 296bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel.

It's available exclusively in most-expensive S trim, which means its list price doesn't drop below Β£49,945. For that considerable figure, though, Jaguar does provide a decent amount of standard equipment, and the promise of 0-60mph in less than 6.0sec.

Even so, speed and equipment are all very well, but this XF will need to provide a sharp drive, excellent interior quality and luxurious refinement if it's to trouble the likes of its best rivals. For us, these are BMW's 5 Series and Audi's A7 in their equivalent 3.0-litre diesel forms.

What's the 2015 Jaguar XF 3.0 TDV6 like to drive?

Let's not beat around the bush, the new XF is the new benchmark for handling in this class, which is an impressive feat given the 5 Series has ruled the roost for so long.

Its steering is light around the straight ahead, but remains precise, while a confidence-inspiring weight builds evenly as you begin to turn in. The steering is quick, sure, but never too aggressive, and the front wheels offer enough grip to ultimately respond with greater urgency than the BMW's.

This is helped by a standard torque vectoring system, which brakes the inside wheels during tight cornering, helping the car to change direction more eagerly.

Despite our test car coming on optional (Β£1200) 20in alloy wheels, it also managed to ride extremely well. There's a slightly firm edge to the ride, but nothing uncomfortable, and the XF feels even better tied down over large bumps than a 5 Series.

There's nothing wrong with the power on offer, either. The XF's 3.0-litre diesel pulls from low revs and continues to do so over a wide enough band that overtaking on B-roads and keeping up with motorway traffic is extremely easy.

More of an annoyance is its standard eight-speed automatic gearbox (no manual is available), which suffers the same hesitation on quick throttle inputs that many of JLR's automatic models do. It means there's a frustrating pause when asking for a sharp bout of acceleration, and is particularly noticeable at stationary junctions.

Disappointing, too, is the XF's engine refinement. At a motorway cruise it never settles down as much as in the BMW or Audi, while at low speeds in traffic the car's stop-start system feels agricultural, sending a jolt through the car upon activation. That said, wind and road noise at a cruise are kept fairly well at bay.

What's the 2015 Jaguar XF TDV6 like inside?

Four adults will sit in comfort in the XF, with a good amount of head and leg room in both the front and rear of the cabin. In fact, the XF measures up slightly better than both a BMW 5 Series and Audi A7 in this respect. Three adults across the rear - as with many large executives - will be a squeeze, though.

Both the BMW and XF suffer worse boot access than an A7 due to their saloon body styles, but the XF's tighter than the BMW's when placed side-by-side. You'll fit a set of golf clubs, a large suitcase or folding pushchair in either, but the BMW's remains wider towards its rear to accept more beyond that. If you need more space, the XF's rear seats split 40/20/40 and fold almost flat to open up the cabin.

The driver will be able to get comfortable easily, thanks to a wide range of steering wheel and driver's seat adjustment, while lumbar adjustment is a standard feature. Forward visibility is very good, and even though the over the shoulder view isn't quite as wide-ranging due to the thick rear pillars, rear parking sensors come as standard.

The Jaguar XE's interior was a bit of a let down in terms of quality when compared with its direct German competition, and although the XF's feels suitably more plush, it's still a way behind the efforts from BMW, and particularly Audi. There are more scratchy plastics, cheaper feeling trims and its switchgear doesn't feel as solid. Even the tabs you pull to fold the rear seats look and feel underwhelming in comparison.

Jaguar infotainment system, although improved over the previous model's, still feels a way behind the likes of BMW's iDrive and even Audi's last-generation MMI that the A7 has to make do with. The XF's screen isn't as sharp and touching its onscreen buttons reveals it's less responsive than when using the rotary dials of the rivals systems.

The Jaguar offers a healthy standard equipment list, though. Features such as 19in alloy wheels, leather seats, front and rear parking sensors, heated front seats, sat-nav, Bluetooth, DAB radio and automatic headlights and wipers are all onboard.

Should I buy one?

This new XF is a more resolved car than the one it replaces, and there's a lot to like about this 3.0-litre diesel. It has a powerful engine, interior space is good, you won't feel shortchanged in terms of the equipment included and you will enjoy one of the best handling large executives money can buy.

Keeping the XF from class honours, though, is the BMW 5 Series. The BMW is even quicker, feels of a better quality inside, is far more refined and its infotainment system is streets ahead to use. In M Sport trim, it's still extremely good fun to drive and is a considerable amount cheaper to buy and run for private and company buyers alike.

For now, then, the 5 Series retains its crown. Of course, a drive of the four-cylinder diesel XF alongside its equivalent competition on UK roads might see a different outcome.

What Car? says...

The rivals

Audi A7

BMW 5 Series

Jaguar XF 3.0 TDV6

Engine size 3.0-litre diesel

Price from Β£49,945

Power 296bhp

Torque 516lb ft

0-62mph 5.8 seconds

Top speed 155mph

Fuel economy 51.4mpg

CO2 144g/km