The Same, but Different
At first glance it’s hard to tell the all-new 2016 Jaguar XF sedan from the current model. Jaguar’s been down this road before: In 2003 it launched an all-new XJ sedan that looked so much like the car it replaced that buyers pretty much ignored it. History repeating?
No. The 2003 XJ attempted to digitally remaster 1960s-era Jaguar style. The 2016 XF is state-of-the-moment Jaguar, made better. And that’s a crucial difference. In visual terms the original XF was the first forward-looking Jaguar sedan in decades. This new XF is designed to maintain that momentum in a market segment where Jaguar still battles for recognition against Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. “This wasn’t the time to go and re-invent Jaguar,” says Jaguar design chief Ian Callum. “There’s a lot of the world that still doesn’t know us.” Jaguar vehicle line director Ian Hoban sums up the car this way: “It delivers more XF.”
Here’s how. The 2016 XF, which debuts at the 2015 New York auto show, shares about 20 percent of its parts – mostly the under-floor structure – with the old XF and Jaguar’s new BMW 3 Series fighter, the XE. Aluminum accounts for about 75 percent of the body-in-white, contributing to claimed weight savings of 132 pounds on RWD models, and 265 pounds on AWD versions. The bodyside is a single aluminum stamping that weighs barely 13 pounds. “We are working right at the limits of aluminum body technology,” says Ian Hoban. Front suspension is a double wishbone setup similar to that used on the F-Type sports car; at the rear is Jaguar’s Integral Link independent suspension. Steering is the same electric power assist system as the F-Type.
The 2016 XF will launch in Europe with four basic engines and six different power outputs – a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 with 340 hp and 380 hp; the 2.0-liter turbocharged Ingenium I-4 with 240 hp; a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 with 300 hp; and a 2.0-liter Ingenium turbodiesel I-4 available with 163 hp or 180 hp. In the U.S., where the XF will launch late this year (it hits our shores before the XE, which is being delayed until 2016, pending the availability of AWD) it will initially be offered with only the V-6 gas engines, though Jaguar sources hint the 240-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 will find its way here, and that the new XF will also become the first-ever Jaguar offered in the States with a diesel engine.
The standard transmission is an eight-speed automatic, and the 2016 XF will be available with a new AWD system which features a chain-driven transfer case and is claimed to be 16 percent lighter and 10 percent more efficient than the old gear-driven unit. Jaguar says the AWD system is tuned to deliver rear-drive handling with all-wheel-drive grip. What Jaguar calls “All-Surface Progress Control” will be also be standard across the range. Basically an enhanced traction control, this system automatically controls brakes and throttle to deliver optimal traction under all conditions.
The 2016 XF is 0.3 in shorter and 0.1 in lower than the car it replaces, but rolls on a 2 in longer wheelbase, and those three numbers distill the essence of the car. Despite its taut, coupe-like profile, the new XF has a best-in-class rear seat package, and equals the best in class in terms of trunk space, says Hoban. “One of the challenges was to improve the interior package while retaining the sportiness,” says designer Callum. “We worked on it millimeter by millimeter to get it right. We have taken away all the reasons not to buy this car.”
Inside, the new XF also gets a much-needed upgrade in terms of infotainment and connectivity. Standard user interface is called Jaguar InControl Touch with an 8-in screen. InControl Touch Pro features a 10.2-in screen with solid-state drive, a quad-core processor and runs on what Jaguar describes as “an ultra-fast Ethernet connection.” Order this, and you also get the digital 12.3-in instrument cluster first seen on the current generation of Range Rovers.
While it may seem familiar, look closely at the 2016 XF’s exterior and there’s a wealth of wonderful design detail. The power bulge on the hood is a Jaguar trademark that dates back to the 1968 XJ, and despite the car’s swoopy stance, the grille – also inspired by the original XJ – is actually quite vertical. The top of the front fender surface sweeps down through the headlight to the front bumper. “This is one of my favorite parts of the car,” says Callum. In profile, the 2016 XF features a six-light greenhouse, and a strong shoulder line that adds visual length. At the rear is new taillight graphic evolved from that first seen on the F-Type.
“The back of a car is always a challenge,” says Callum. “For best aero results you need a high, square back. Old Jaguars looked aerodynamic, but they weren’t. So it took lots of careful detailing to get the Jaguar form and aerodynamic efficiency together.” That attention to detail worked: The new XF boasts a coefficient of drag of 0.26, a significant improvement over the outgoing model’s 0.29.
The launch of the smaller XE means the XF gets to play a new role in the Jaguar lineup. “The XE allows us to refocus XF right at the heart of the E-class, 5 Series, and A6 because it is no longer Jaguar’s entry point,” says Hoban. “We had the opportunity to create a more mature and sophisticated vehicle. We’ve kept everything that made the original XF popular, but delivered more comfort, interior room, infotainment and efficiency.”
On paper, at least, the 2016 Jaguar XF hits all those hot buttons. But we’ll know for sure whether Jaguar’s got it right when we drive the car in a few months time.