We’ve driven the XF in the launch spec petrol P300 engine. Jaguar’s nomenclature is one of the more easy to understand in the motoring world these days: P equals petrol, 300 equals 300PS (221kW). There are two petrol engines, both inline-fours, one with 200PS one with 300, and a single diesel engine in the range. The P300 is the same 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine that’s now powering the base model F-Type.
In the XF the P300 engine will get you to 60mph in 5.8 seconds (a whole tenth slower than the F-Type) and on to a limited 155mph top speed. Torque is stated at 400Nm (295lb ft) and available from 1,500rpm, with power topping out at 5,500rpm. Weirdly there’s a slightly lacklustre response from the XF low down – it feels more like that max torque can be found higher up. It prompts you to keep the XF in a lower gear for a bit longer than you might want to. We drove the XF back-to-back with the Sportbrake estate fitted with the new mild hybrid diesel engine, and would probably advise heading the way of the oil barons if you had to pick. The steering response is also a little off-putting at times. The XF’s rack is weighty, but that weight feels fake, like it’s been tuned so it should add resistance which isn’t naturally there.
Where the XF really comes into its own is on the cruise though. In comfort the suspension is refined and the new active noise cancellation does work very well for a quiet ride. There’s an eight-speed automatic ‘box and traction comes through an all-wheel-drive system in the P300 (although rear-driven options still exist on lower-powered engines). The gearbox is a bit sluggish when you ask it for anything suddenly, but changes are imperceptible, especially in automatic D mode. You can take manual control yourself, and this is preferable if you’re attempting any kind of adventurous driving, by using the beautifully machined metal paddles on the wheel. Unlike most autos these days though, the XF will not resume automatic control until you tell it to, and there’s no specific manual mode to select on the knob.