THERE’S a rather important car that’s going to be appearing at a Jaguar dealership near you later this year in the shape of the F-Type. We’ve seen pictures and we’ve seen it in the flesh, but it’s going to be an annoyingly long Spring before we finally get our grubby mits on it. In the meantime however, Jaguar has kindly given us a sneak preview. Of sorts.
The most popular engine in the F-Type will be a brand-new 3.0-litre petrol V6 with a supercharger on top for lots of lovely linear torque and proper performance, and as well as being the right sort of engine to live in the front of a Jaguar it replaces the naturally aspirated V8; so both the XJ and XF saloons get the new V6 too.
V8s are undeniably delicious but Jaguar has a bit of history when it comes to six-cylinder engines, all the way back through previous XJ models, the E-Type and even the XK120. So despite having a supercharger on top, an XF seems inherently right with this new engine powering it. There’s no external details to let you know that’s the case though; recent tweaks to the XF’s still-fresh design included refreshed headlights and slicker bumpers front and rear – all small details rather than anything major. It still cuts a dash in a crowded car park, looks great on the move and perfectly represents the idea of a modern Jaguar with a flavour of the past.
There’s nothing wrong with the cabin either, especially considering the XF first appeared in 2008. The beating pulse of the starter button when you climb aboard and the rotating air vents when you fire it up still raise a smile, and are a reminder that this is still a sporting saloon however luxurious it might be. Hold your finger on that starter button and when the engine catches there is a brief flurry of revs with a matching snarl before it settles quietly.
The circular gear selector rises from the transmission tunnel as the engine fires, another slick feature that is unique to the XF and one that works very well although you need to recalibrate your brain a little when performing slow speed fore and aft manoeuvres. Spin it into D and a brief squeeze of the accelerator gets the XF on the move.
The stats for the new engine are undoubtedly impressive. Adding a supercharger to the 3.0-litre V6 unit pushes its output up to a serious 335bhp with 332lb.ft of torque to back it up. It has to be limited to a top speed of 155mph, and the spring from 0 to 62mph is despatched in 5.9 seconds. If that sounds like frenetic performance, it’s nothing of the sort; drive it like you own it and the XF will glide effortlessly up to speed, the excellent eight-speed transmission happy to shift up early and in a smooth fashion to exploit the generous torque on offer. As well as getting the best economy out of it, it makes for very relaxing progress.
Yet access maximum performance is only a squeeze away, although you can sharpen the XF’s responses a little by shifting the transmission into S or manual mode, as well as tapping the button to put the car into ‘Competition’ mode. Do so and you can really push hard; there’s a little more slip in the stability and traction control but it’s still watching over you. The steering is light but accurate and responsive, while the grip and balance is superb. It earns its sporting credentials without breaking sweat.
If you’re looking for a simple explanation as to what makes a Jaguar a Jaguar, then look no further than how the XF rides. Whether the speed is high or low it remains poised, filtering out bumps so you are aware of them, but that no discomfort is caused. Yet the flip side of this is that when you start to press on the XF is every inch the sports saloon, gripping strongly and staying level and controlled through corners.
Your sensible side won’t be disappointed either. The XF offers more than respectable space front and rear, the boot is well-shaped and generous, and despite the performance the V6 S/C can 30mpg combined and 224g/km of CO2. The clincher is that it does all this whilst offering a distinctive character and genuine appeal, something which the default German choices in this sector can come up a little short on.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Jaguar XF 3.0 V6 S/C Portfolio £50,450
Engine: 3.0-litre petrol unit producing 335bhp and 332lb/ft of torque
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic driving the rear wheels
Performance: Top speed 155mph, 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds
Economy: 30mpg combined
Emissions: 224g/km of CO2