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First Drive

2016 Jaguar XF 2.0d 180 AWD review

Jaguar is targeting the likes of the Audi A6 quattro with a four-wheel-drive version of its XF saloon. Is it a better bet than the grippy German? We find out on UK roads

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It seems the popularity of Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system has prompted a number of other manufacturers to release similar systems themselves. BMW has xDrive, Mercedes 4Matic and now Jaguar is introducing an AWD system on its XF saloon.

First seen in the F-Type Coupe and Cabriolet, Jaguar’s system drives only the rear wheels until additional traction is required. The advantage of this system is that both economy and emissions are improved under normal conditions compared with a permanent four-wheel-drive system, which always drives four wheels.

Despite this, the additional weight of the AWD set-up does increase fuel consumption, carbon output and also the time it takes for the XF to reach 62mph from rest compared with the standard rear-drive model. With AWD, the XF manages 8mpg less, emits 15g/km more and takes an extra 0.3sec to cover 0-62mph.

You should also know you’re tied to the 2.0-litre 177bhp diesel engine and 8-speed automatic gearbox if you want all four wheels driven in your XF. Those hoping for the more economical 2.0-litre or one of the V6 options will be disappointed.

What is the 2016 Jaguar XF 2.0d AWD like to drive?

For the overwhelming majority of the time you’re behind the wheel of the AWD XF, it's unlikely you'll notice the additional oily bits sitting between the front wheels. Only the slightly blunted acceleration will give the game away in a straight line, and on dry Tarmac.

Even when you get to a bend, there's little to tell the difference in normal conditions; the steering is every bit as quick and accurate as the two-wheel drive model. You have to be trying very hard in the dry to feel the difference. At the point the rear tyres start to lose grip, you feel the front end of the car pull you back into line.

Naturally, on slippery surfaces you’ll feel the four-wheel-drive system kicking in far earlier than in the dry. It helps make the XF AWD feel much more secure than the 2WD model in icy conditions and could make the difference between getting home and being stranded at the bottom of a snowy incline.

Of course, for the other 364 days of the year, you’ll be pleased to hear that real world economy doesn’t suffer too much when opting for AWD. Although we haven’t been able to put the car through our True MPG tests yet, the Jaguar’s trip computer recorded an average of over 46mpg over our 600-mile route across Europe. That’s impressive considering much of the time was spent at just over 80mph.

What is the 2016 Jaguar XF 2.0d AWD like inside?

From inside the XF, there’s no immediate sign of the additional hardware beneath. The only AWD badging is on the boot lid and there’s no easily accessible display in the instrument cluster to show the power being split front and rear. The really is no discernable difference at first glance.

That means that you still get plenty of room up front with good adjustment on both the steering wheel and seat. This makes it very easy to get comfortable no matter how tall or short you are. There’s also a good amount of head and legroom for rear seat passengers although those in the middle will have to contend with a sizeable transmission tunnel between their feet.

The boot is also easily big enough to swallow a couple of large suitcases, although the load lip is quite high. It’s not all good news though; even on our well-specced test car, there are areas of cheap feeling plastic inside while we still prefer rotary dial controlled infotainment systems like BMW’s iDrive to the Jaguar’s touchscreen.

Should I buy one?

If you want a big saloon car with four driven wheels, the XF AWD has a lot going for it. For the keen driver, it runs rings around an Audi A6 quattro for fun while still feeling secure. Although you can get much faster A6s, they still don’t have the same feeling of agility.

We were also impressed by the real world economy of the XF, which also sits in the same tax bracket as an A6 2.0 TDI quattro. The Audi fights back with a higher-quality interior and a slightly cheaper purchase price.

However, we would still suggest you think about whether you actually need all-wheel-drive. A normal XF is cheaper to buy, cheaper to run and faster too. Going for 2WD also means you could opt for the BMW 520d, which remains a better all-rounder and our favourite large executive car.

What Car? says...


Rivals

Audi A6 quattro

BMW 5 Series

Jaguar XF 2.0d AWD Engine size 2.0-litre diesel Price Β£36,530 Power 177bhp Torque 318lb ft 0-62mph 8.4sec Top speed 136mph Fuel economy 57.7mpg CO2 129g/km