Jaguar is a brand that, to varying degrees, combines three popular automobile characteristics: performance, luxury, and style. Models like the Mark 2 and the E-Type were, by a wide margin, the fastest automobiles that could be had for a semi-affordable price in the 1960s. Jaguars became plush and opulent in the 1970s, thanks to the US market, and the brand image was defined by polished burl walnut dashboards, Connolly leather, and, of course, the silky V-12 engine. With the introduction of the initial XF in 2007, Jaguar refocused on contemporary, modern aesthetics, as shown by designer Ian Callum’s first-generation XF and following models.
Jaguar is reinventing itself once more. Jaguar has stated that it will go totally electric by 2025, just on the edge of the electric revolution that is surely upon us. That doesn’t just mean there won’t be any more conventionally powered cars; it also means that, with the exception of the I-Pace, the whole existing portfolio will be gone in just three and a half years. And the portfolio’s consolidation has begun.
For the grand finale, Jaguar has made the XF sedan and F-Pace SUV more attractive, and more affordable. We recently drove both of them—specifically, the XF P300 R-Dynamic SE AWD with a 296 hp four-cylinder, and the F-Pace P400 R-Dynamic S powered by a 395 hp straight-six engine.
Let’s start with the XF, which represents “a category that has been substantially decreased over the last few years,” according to Jaguar USA CEO Joe Eberhardt. Jaguar offered both the more compact XE and the XF up to the previous model year, as well as the larger XJ just two years ago. It’s now simply XF, and there are only three variations, down from ten. The Sportbrake, like the six-cylinder engine, is no longer available. Diesels are also no longer available. What makes you think that having fewer options is a good thing?
“If you have relatively small volumes with a highly complex and proliferated lineup, it provides the buyer the appearance of choice,” Eberhardt adds. Customers, on the other hand, frequently went to the dealer and discovered that most varieties were sold out, according to him. “As a result, we concentrated on combinations that are most appealing to customers,” Eberhardt explains. Jaguar also reduced the price by a significant amount. The base price has been reduced from $51,100 to $43,995, saving you 20% to 25% over a comparable Audi A6, BMW 5-series, or Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
The new XF wears more aggressively styled headlights and gaping front air intakes.
No wonder the XE is gone. “As you know, in the US bigger is better,” Eberhardt says. “There is really no benefit in having the smaller car.” But there is a benefit in having a small engine: With the switch from the aging AJ V-6 engine to the new Ingenium straight-six, there is simply no more room under the hood of the XF. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder, sold with 246 hp and rear-wheel drive, or with 296 hp and all-wheel drive, must do. According to Eberhardt, “A lot of our customers don’t know whether they have a four-, six- or eight-cylinder engine. They just know that around 300 hp will allow them to accelerate as quickly as they need.”
Before getting behind the wheel of the XF, we first notice the updated exterior. Little has changed, the most significant upgrade being the more aggressively styled headlights with double “J”-shaped LED stripes. And the XF sedan is now fitted with the smoked taillights previously used on the defunct Sportbrake version. Even the entry-level models feature the gaping front air intakes of the R-Dynamic variant, distinguished only by bright accents.
The XF is now fitted with the smoked taillights previously used on the defunct Sportbrake version.
The body has aged well, its proportions hinting at the rear-wheel-drive platform. The drag coefficient is an excellent 0.25, slightly better than before the facelift. The lower air intakes are more aggressive than before, especially on the standard versions, but conversely, the look is less elegant.
Those, however, are minor changes. Inside, many more significant changes have occurred: The cockpit has a big, slightly curved touch-sensitive central screen that controls, among other things, Jaguar’s new “Pivi Pro” infotainment and navigation system, which is “always connected” and wants access to your phone and calendar to learn about your travel habits. It comes standard on SE models, and it’s a simple and effective arrangement.
The new XF’s interior is one of the more pleasant we’ve been in. Al Whelan, Jaguar’s creative director of interior design, mentions: “What we wanted to do is bring the lovely materials and the perforated grain leather close to the customer, where they can touch them.” Indeed, the materials are soft, beautiful and perfectly executed. And the “Est. 1935 Jaguar Coventry” lettering is a posh reminder of the brand’s heritage.
The interior of the XF features a sculpted steering wheel, taken from the I-Pace, and a large touch-sensitive central screen.
The redesigned gear selector, on the other hand, did not win us over. The automatic rising spinning knob, which had been a futuristic signature piece of the brand, has been replaced with a typical palm shifter with a well-hidden unlock button. Another item we could do without is the gesture-activated roof blind, which is nothing more than a gimmick that complicates things. While we’re whining, the open cupholders in the back armrest appear to be shoddy. Furthermore, the integration of the head-up display into a new dashboard is pointless.
Starting the (clumsily named) XF P300 R-Dynamic SE AWD with the push of a button brings the Ingenium Four to life unobtrusively, aided by a noise-cancellation system. The engine allows for a rate of acceleration from zero to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, and little distinguishes this power plant from similar four-cylinder offerings by the competition, but that’s not a bad thing. It does the job with competence and efficiency, aided by the ubiquitous and meritorious ZF 8HP automatic transmission that’s used in a vast number of premium cars.
The chassis hits a good compromise between ride and handling, with precise steering and a suspension setup that does a very nice job at absorbing uneven surfaces. And although the lane-keeping assistant did not excel, we prefer to turn those systems off anyway as soon as the drive commences.
Priced at $49,995, only $6,000 above the entry-level model, the top-tier XF we drove adds all-wheel drive, a more powerful engine tune and a plethora of extra equipment. It’s a steal.
Moving on to the redesigned F-Pace, we discovered that it begins where the XF ends. The F-Pace starts at $49,995, but unlike the XF, the popular SUV is available with four-, six-, and eight-cylinder engines. We tested the Jaguar F-Pace P-400 R-Dynamic S, which starts at $65,200 and is powered by a 395-hp 3.0-liter straight-six engine that powers all four wheels via a ZF eight-speed automated transmission.
The changes to the exterior of the F-Pace are subtle but a bit more extensive than on the XF. The SUV gets more angular taillights, and the sensors for the assistance systems are better hidden. The interior receives a major improvement with a dashboard—previously shared with the defunct XE—that is now identical with the one on the new XF. Thus, it comes with that big central screen, luxe materials and the same unremarkable gear selector.
Jaguar’s new “Pivi Pro” infotainment and navigation system aboard the F-Pace.
Unlike the XF, the F-engine Pace’s compartment has room for the 3.0-liter straight-six, a miracle of an engine that produces 395 horsepower in P400 specification, allowing the vehicle to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds and cruise comfortably into triple digits. While the engine itself is silky smooth, only the most tech-savvy passengers will appreciate the electronic supercharger’s high-pitched hum, which delivers quick throttle response before the exhaust-fed twin-scroll turbocharger spools up.
The handling characteristics are still at the top of the class, the steering is precise. Yet it is comfortable enough on virtually every surface, and with the large trunk and generous rear seats, the updated F-Pace remains a veritable long-distance cruiser.
Our F-Pace P-400 R-Dynamic S tester was equipped with a 395 hp, 3.0-liter straight-six that drives all four wheels through a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission.
The F-Pace, unlike the XF, does not undercut the competition’s price, but rather sits in the middle of its segment. It remains one of the most appealing options in the class, owing to its indisputable characteristics and elegance. However, the wild F-Pace SVR, which starts at $84,600 and is powered by a supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 with 550 horsepower, is a must-see.
The F-Pace’s interior receives a major improvement with a dashboard that is now identical with the one on the new XF.
Having spent time with the new XF and F-Pace, we find that they blend performance, luxury and style with a true value story. It’s hard be believe they represent the end of an era. No more gasoline-powered Jaguars after 2025? Perhaps it’s time to get one of the last ones, or hope for a “Plan B” in Coventry.