Jaguar Land Rover’s next-generation “Ingenium” diesel engine has been utilized in various states of tune in its North American lineup, and it debuted under the hood of the XF midsize sedan for the 2016 model year.
While it may look like a V6 due to its size, it’s actually a 4-cylinder turbo-diesel, good for 180 hp and 318 lb-ft of torque, the latter available from just 1,750 rpm. Such is the benefit of the diesel engine: plenty of low-end power without the added fuel consumption.
Less expensive than the XF 30t AWD or S AWD models, our particular XF 20d AWD tester could actually be considered one of the more performance-oriented models, especially in R-Sport trim.
Indeed, that special package includes all the performance-look goodies such as unique wheels, bumpers and rocker panels, LED headlights and a trunk spoiler. Of all this, the 20” multi-spoke, two-tone wheels were the real highlight, as they had many passersby wondering if this was one of the performance models.
Styling is all business
I still wouldn’t go so far as to call the XF an “exciting-looking” car per se; it’s more a “handsome” car that may cater to those who have been left wanting after conservative stalwarts like Lexus and Audi have gone for more extreme grilles and wheel choices. It’s interesting; for a time, Jaguar was ahead of the curve when it came to adventurous styling, whereas now the brand is more par for the course.
In addition to the wheels, there are some pleasing styling flourishes such as the neat chrome bar that bisects the taillights as well as the R-Sport specific fender vents.
It’s more of the same inside where obvious focus has been placed on the luxury aspects of the Jaguar XF. On the dash, we find mainly straight angles and more square shapes. One important exception is the gear selector dial, which rises out of the centre console as soon as you push the start/stop button mounted on the lower left-hand side of the centre stack. This is matched by the way some of the climate control vents reveal themselves once the system is activated, as if the car is “waking up” to your commands. It’s a feature that debuted on the original XF back in 2007 and it has aged well. Other neat details include vent controls emblazoned with “JAGUAR” scripting and contrasting white-on-black seat stitching.
Infotainment needs an update
Unfortunately, what isn’t aging quite so well is Jaguar’s infotainment system. It starts you off on a home screen that’s divided into four quadrants—much like Ford’s old SYNC; even the colours used for each quadrant are similar—for your climate, navigation, media and telephone needs. It’s clear enough; I just wish it were faster and not so clunky when receiving your inputs. Jaguar has an updated system elsewhere in its lineup, so why not put it here? On a positive note, it’s nice that designers included redundant buttons for your seats, climate controls and radio so you don’t have to rely on the touchscreen too much.
Once you get your music playing, you’ll be treated to some proper studio-quality sound—even if you’re streaming tunes through your Bluetooth device—courtesy of an 11-speaker Meridian premium audio system.
Noisy, but spirited
You’ll want that quality sound for your listening enjoyment, yes, but also to help drown out the noise of the diesel engine up front. It’s not the loudest diesel I’ve ever sampled, to be sure, but both Mercedes-Benz and BMW do a better job of disguising their respective engine notes during cold starts. The Jaguar XF 20d does become quieter after a while, but it remains a little grating at first.
Of course, this would be a much bigger issue if the diesel didn’t deliver on the positive aspects of any given diesel, and that is to say torque all the time, no matter the revs and no matter the gear. And so it goes with the XF that you could be clipping along at a stately 100 km/h, only to have to give it just a little more juice to beat that semi-trailer truck to the exit ramp. Without even having to flip the downshift paddle, the XF obliges, sending you toward the horizon on a generous swell of torque that is, and has always been, the turbo-diesel way.
Get past the diesel groan, and the rest of the XF experience is all Jaguar: sumptuous leather seating, reduced road noise, great ride and a surprisingly slippery shape that lowers drag and wind noise, too. The XF will squire you from point to point with ease and gumption, that’s for sure. It’s not all perfect; the trunk is nicely sized, but I was frankly shocked by how much of a squeeze it was for me to get into the back seat. Yes, I’m tall but even with the front seat about two thirds of the way back on its rails, I really had to snake my way in there. The XF has such a long, lithe profile that I thought for sure rear-seat space would be ample; alas, it’s becoming more of a compact luxury sedan than a true midsize car.
If you can live with that, however, the 2017 Jaguar XF 20d AWD R-Sport remains a tempting proposition. It looks great, comes fairly well equipped and is properly efficient—we saw 9.5L/100 km over about 200 km of city driving—all for less than $70,000 before options and taxes.