By on March 11, 2015

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It seems that whenever you read a review of a Jaguar, it’s never of a model that most people buy. It generally has a supercharged V-8 which is powerful enough for law enforcement to be on a first name basis with the driver. Its exhaust is loud enough to force the homeowners’ association to call an emergency meeting. The price tag is enough to send someone to a private college for a year and a half. It would be lucky to make less trips to the gas station than Nordstrom. The maintenance costs will come to rival its owner’s property taxes. Jaguar will probably make less than 10,000 units of that model during its lifespan for the entire world.

This review of a Jaguar will be very different from one you typically read in other automotive publications. This Jaguar has a supercharged V-6 (though law enforcement may still get to know you). The price tag is enough for only one year at a private college. The neighbors will be fine with the sound it makes. The owner can afford to shop at Neiman Marcus rather than Nordstrom. Maintenance costs will probably rival its owner’s mobile phone bill. And Jaguar will sell way more than 10,000 of it around the world this year.

Such was the case when I had a Jaguar XF 3.0 Sport for a week. Rather than assuming the persona of a successful business executive who could waltz into Bloomingdale’s like it was his second home, I ended up chauffeuring my friends to their different engagements throughout Northern California. It turned out to be good for reviewing the car, but it resulted in having no time to visit any upscale shopping centers.

In other to get some scenic photos during my time with the XF, in one day I drove from San Jose to San Francisco to Stinson Beach (it’s beautiful) to Petaluma (I got sick of seeing Tomales Bay for miles) to Sonoma (racetrack turned out to be closed) to Calistoga (the speedway there turned into a construction site and was repurposed into a baseball field) to Napa (where there’s really good food) and then back to San Francisco. In the process, I put at least 250 miles in one day on the car. During that trip, I learned many things about the car, both good and bad.

The powertrain, with its 3-liter supercharged V-6 which makes 340 horsepower with the ZF 8-speed gearbox, was excellent. Jaguar advertises that the car can go from 0-60 miles per hour in under six seconds and I believe them. When I needed to pass some slow-moving trucks on a two-lane road, the powertrain had no trouble dropping down a few gears and delivering the necessary power to get past quickly. Personally, getting an XF with the 5-liter V-8 is unnecessary in my opinion. As for handling, during the jaunt from San Francisco to Stinson Beach, there were plenty of winding roads. So I put the XF in dynamic mode, put the transmission in sport mode, and the Jaguar promptly made its point about why there are W-rated tires fitted to it. In other words, it’s very good. During my time with the car, the XF returned an average of 23 mpg, which came right in line with the EPA estimates. There’s also a start-stop system on it which perhaps helped that number.

People loved the looks of the XF, especially the white with black wheels color combination of my test car. Ever since the XF’s facelift for the 2012 model year, the design has become totally timeless. When driving it through San Francisco and Berkeley, people on the sidewalk felt the need to look at the car. Moreover, in a totally unscientific experiment, I parked it in my driveway (in place of my E39 530i) and observed how many people looked the car as they drove by. Almost every time, the driver always felt the need to get a better look at the car. When the car went away, most of my neighbors did a double take at the press vehicle that replaced the Jaguar. (I’m pretty sure my neighbors are thinking the XF is in the shop at the moment.) Furthermore, other drivers tended to move over for the Jag when I was driving up Highway 1.

However, I came across some parts of the car I didn’t like. There’s no way I can sugarcoat this, but the user interface is awful. It’s the only aspect of the car which gives you an inkling that the XF dates back from 2008. I like to make fun of the difficulty of using BMW’s iDrive, but after using iDrive in my dad’s X3, it’s become surprisingly intuitive. Meanwhile, the touchscreen system in the XF’s dashboard is slow, and it takes an eternity to scan through different radio stations. The navigation system doesn’t have the level of sophistication as systems from other manufacturers, giving me a fairly roundabout way to get from San Francisco to Berkeley. The same touchscreen system has to be used to work the climate control. To switch on the seat heaters, you have to press the seat button on the dashboard, and then select the level of heat you want on the dashboard. On the bright side, streaming music from an iPhone 6 using Bluetooth worked out well, while the base Meridian sound system sounds good too.

Since I was driving multiple people when I had the car, I got plenty of feedback regarding the interior. The at-least 12-way front sport seats weren’t liked by everyone, especially since you can’t simply slide into them due to the bolstering. (I wouldn’t recommend them if you’re over 200 pounds.) No one complained about rear seat comfort; I heard no complaints after sitting there for two hours. Folding down the rear seats to fit more cargo is another unorthodox process. You have to open the trunk, pull a lever located on the trunk’s ceiling, and then pull the rear seats down. The opening created isn’t large; it’s best for objects such as skis and narrow suitcases. But most potential XF owners won’t care about that as they’ll probably have another car for that job.

While driving the car, I was constantly on edge that the poor condition of some Northern California roads and highways would put too much strain on the Jaguar’s W-rated tires on 20-inch wheels. Thankfully, a spare tire is included with the XF 3.0 Sport, though it isn’t full-size. Additionally, when fueling the car (with premium, of course), the gas pump tends to shut off after ten seconds, though the fuel tank is nowhere near full. This was a problem at the two gas stations I filled up at. I ended up researching the problem and it’s fairly common. The suggested solution was to not push the nozzle all the way in, but I didn’t have an opportunity to attempt that particular solution.

The XF 3.0 Sport is perfect for the person who always wanted an XFR, but didn’t want to deal with its cost of ownership. After all, the fuel, maintenance, depreciation, and insurance costs seriously add up. The V-6 has three-quarters of the performance of the 5-liter V-8 while getting reasonable gas mileage. Additionally, when I had the XF 3.0 Sport, most people mistook it for the XFR largely due to the body kit, the standard Black Pack with its black grille and other exterior trim bits, and the dark grey 20-inch wheels that were at one point an option on the XFR.

On the other hand, if I were to get an XF, since I’m not one for getting the sport package, I would take the XF 3.0 Portfolio at the same price, as it’s the better choice for both long distance cruising and idling in traffic, with its 19-inch wheels, has the better Meridian sound system standard (825 watts vs. the 380 in my Sport test car), and has more comfortable active heated and cooled seats included. However, other people won’t give the Portfolio without the black and dark grey trim bits the same looks as the Sport, but eventually it comes down to personal preference.

At an MSRP of $58,100, the XF 3.0 Sport is squarely in the price range of the BMW 535i, Mercedes E350, Audi A6 3.0T (which also has a supercharged V-6), and Lexus GS350. However, you can typically negotiate $3,000 to $4,000 off MSRP (sometimes even $5,000 if Jaguar USA is providing incentives too) on the XF 3.0 Sport or Portfolio, which sweetens the case for an XF. All told, you can get an XF out of the dealership’s doors for under $60,000, while having more features than a similarly priced Mercedes or Audi.

In the end, the XF 3.0 is an excellent choice if you’ve always wanted the Jaguar experience but were afraid of the ownership costs. It’s very fast while returning well over 20 miles per gallon. Onlookers will think your XF is vastly more expensive than it really is. Homeowners’ associations across the country won’t give you a hard time if you own one. And most importantly, in a neighborhood of Mercedes E-Classes and BMW 5-Series cars, people take notice of the person with an XF in the driveway. Just be aware your conversations will be longer than before. Some people can go on and on about Nordstrom.

Satish Kondapavulur is a writer for Clunkerture, where about a fifth of the articles are about old cars and where his one-time LeMons racing dreams came to an end, once he realized it was impossible to run a Ferrari Mondial. His past weekend involved seven different conversations with his neighbors about why the XF was gone.

 

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40 Comments on “Review: Jaguar XF 3.0 Sport...”


  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    There’s something borderline heretical to me about a Jaguar with a metallic dash. If I’m buying a British luxury car, I want more wood than a Victorian men’s club. I want deep-pile carpet and burl inlays. I want to spend time tracing a path through a maze of zebrawood. I want to feel like I’m sitting inside a humidor. This idea that “sport” means “aluminum dash” – real or faux – does not square with what I’m looking for in a Jaguar, no matter the suspension tune or 0-60 times.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      This man gets it. Every_single_Jaguar should come from the factory ready to be called “Vanden Plas.”

    • 0 avatar
      Satish Kondapavulur

      I can only recommend getting the Portfolio model of this car which has everything you described. It’s the one I’d get, if for slightly different reasons.

      • 0 avatar
        jimbo1126

        Portfolio still has the aluminum dash.

        If you’re lamenting the XF interior, just wait until you see the XE. It’s on their website now if you want a good cry.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      Yup, as jimbo notes, the XF in every trim level and option package keeps that aluminum dash. Sorry, aluminium. If I wanted a metal dashboard I’d buy a Lexus and save two trips to the dealer a year.

      @jimbo, I actually mind the XE interior less. The leather-wrapped dash is at least organic and probably would smell nice if you treated the leather well.

      Yes, I’d probably spend too much time caressing my Jaguar. Maybe that’s a good reason not to buy one.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      What an awful review.

      No mention of ride quality, interior noise levels, chassis rigidity, steering feedback, feel of interior materials, gauge layout, capabilities of HVAC, suspension noise, etc.

      And sorry, but the exterior AND interior of this 60k Jaaaag is just so plain vanilla that it’s devoid of any personality or uniqueness whatsoever – a Ford Fusion looks better inside & out.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        What a terrible comment.

        No mention of Cadillac’s dashboard, interior room or pricing structure.

        I want my money back.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          I’m just being honest; constructive criticism.

          The review makes more references, by far, to Macy’s & Nieman Marcus, and to how many people driving by rubber necked to see this car (which I find hard to believe, btw – it’s very generic looking), than to driving dynamics, characteristics & qualities.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            I don’t dispute that. But you could have been a tad more charitable in tone.

            For me, the use of ‘less’ in place of ‘fewer’ was the deal breaker.

      • 0 avatar
        Think2Win

        The 2011 XF Premium came with a BASE 5.0L NA V8 producing 385HP… Kind of like the base engine should be in a Caddy

  • avatar

    Someday—being that it’s a Jaguar—that little electronic gear selector will have its last breath and sink back into the center console, never to rise again.

    But seriously, I do like the XF. If not for the clunky infotainment interface, I’d have no complaints against it. I’m not even bothered that it’s on a Ford platform that dates back to ’98 or so.

    • 0 avatar
      salhany

      There’s an option through that interface to have the gear selector stay revealed all the time, which would be the very first thing I’d do in this car.

      I really like the XF, and living in Maine I’m very pleased they’ve finally seen fit to offer it with this 3.0 engine and AWD. I’d likely not bother with the sport and get the Portfolio with the smaller wheels, as suggested.

      • 0 avatar

        Smart. I’d do that, too. I’d also deactivate the peek-a-boo vents and the auto tilt-telescoping steering column, as these are also things likely to break in a Jaguar.

        Speaking of the V6 itself, I believe it uses the same block as the 5.0-liter V8—which everyone seems to think is a version of the Ford Coyote V8, but isn’t—but with extra balancing devices in place of the two missing pistons.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Between the deep body sills and the uniform white that’s one stubby looking car.

  • avatar
    MLS

    What’s with all of the department store references?

    • 0 avatar
      Satish Kondapavulur

      I spent too much time around fellow executive sedan owners when I had this car. All they talk about is department stores and which is the best credit card to have. It rubbed off on me.

    • 0 avatar
      Joss

      Gandu necrophilia from Hitch’s Vertigo where they remade the woman & her labels. You never knew the original but can taste the Buickized beemer.

  • avatar
    Silverbird

    FIL has one, handled 5 of us for a 600km road trip one way with a roof box on it.

    Only downside was very low ground clearance when loaded up. Scraped the middle on a few speed bumps in a golf resort if I was going more than a crawl.

    Great power for passing on 2 lanes road at 120 km/h

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Mr. Satish, this is a much more focused article entirely, and shows great improvement over the one I complained about before (Russian blue light one). Nice review!

    —-

    The car still looks very 2008 to me, and I don’t find it particularly interesting. It’s just got the shape of a mid-sizer, much in the same vein as the G8 or the SS. The current Impala catches my eye much more than this thing! It just has no presence. And like it or not (I don’t, really), the new huge XJ has some presence. I notice it, and the old man in a suit behind the wheel.

    I agree with what Astigmatism said about the interior. The aluminum and black this and that and sporty bumpers etc – are not appropriate for a Jaguar saloon car. It’s not formal or comfortable looking, and there is no wood. Jags need more wood than other competitors in the class. I want to step into my Jaguar and lose my shoe in the carpet, while I admire the yacht-level wood inside.

    The leather looks rather cheap as well. The tail lamp segments between rear fender and trunk lid do not align perfectly.

    And while certainly it costs about the same to buy as a comparable Merc/Audi/BMW, it will also certainly cost more down the road, when electro bits and little motors on vents and what not break. And they will break, because British Engineering and Build Quality come as standard.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I don’t know, to me this is what a 2015 Grand Prix GTP would look like if Pontiac still existed. It even has the supercharged V8-derived 6 cylinder!

    The ChryslerCo style black wheels are also quite gauche. The XFR looks ridiculous too but at least that one is face-melting fast.

    It is pretty bad that Hyundai is the only company who can make a high powered sedan that doesn’t look like it belongs street racing STIs and Camaros. (I guess the Q70 5.6 qualifies as well.)

    Try and snag a Portfolio next time.

    • 0 avatar
      Satish Kondapavulur

      Unfortunately, all they had in Northern California was the XF Sport. I didn’t know which exact XF I’d be getting until it appeared in the driveway. I really like the Sport because mine looked the business (I got a lot of looks in San Francisco with that car), but if it were my money, it would be Portfolio all the way.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Agreed on the wheels. They look like aftermarket wheels from 10 years ago.

      This car seems to have space and pace covered, not so much the grace.

      • 0 avatar
        Drewlssix

        Or like the go to “sport” trim wheels from just a few years ago to now. Fords with the sport package have black/silver wheels, Kia sx models an Impreza variant iirc. It’s a trend I noticed a while ago and am waiting for the peak and fall off.

  • avatar
    shadow mozes

    Meh. I wonder how’s reliability?

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    Sometimes I forget they still make these. Not a lot of them out there. I don’t think they look too good… little chubsters. Keep the aluminum though… I never liked wood, probably never will.

    I drive the Audi V6 and I wish I had a supercharger sometimes. It passes fine once the rpms go up and double-downshift kicks in, but I still wish for one. And I can’t afford the S4.

    Are they putting this powertrain to the XE? And when is THAT coming out?

  • avatar
    James2

    When I win the lottery I’m going to buy a Jaguar… but not this one. It just doesn’t look like a Jag, inside or out.

    I’m thinking Series III XJ6, just so I can relive my middle school years when my friend’s mom drove us around in one of those.

    • 0 avatar
      Satish Kondapavulur

      Unfortunately, you’ll be reliving your middle school years an entirely different way, namely being forced to hang out at home when the car won’t start and you can’t find someone to drive you to the mall.

      (Don’t take me too seriously. :) )

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I was halfway through this article before realizing that the XF is not the XE I was thinking of. Supercharged V6 and V8 available? Now that’s a BMW-killer. Stupid alphabet-soup names.

  • avatar
    plee

    I sold new Jaguars from 1999 t0 2004 and another stint during 2012 and 2013 before I retired. My observation is that the later model XJ and the XF cars are much more reliable than the ones I sold previously. I delivered several 2012 and 2013 models and there were no more problems for my customers with those Jaguars than with the many new Audis I sold during that same time frame at the same dealership. The 3.0 XF is a really nice car but I agree that the interface is way behind other manufacturers.

  • avatar
    RRocket

    What a terribly uninspired interior…

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    Far and away the finest Tata ever.

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    Bodacious TaTa… I’ll keep my ’13 E350 BlueTec, but these new Jags are beautiful cars.

  • avatar
    WhatDaFunk

    How could you get sick of Tomales Bay? It’s so beautiful up there!

  • avatar
    Think2Win

    For 3 years I had the 2011 XF Premium. The BASE engine was a 5.0L NA V8 making 385HP. This engine was powerful, fast, silky, but growled and rumbled in Sport Mode. The well optioned list price was $57K, I paid less. This car is vastly superior to the 3.0L being reviewed here. In 2011 there was no need to upgrade to the Supercharged V8, as the base engine was all the power you needed. I have had different flavors of BMW, Merc, Audi, etc., and this was the best mid-sized sports sedan I have ever owned. The handling is superb. There is no reason to buy a new 3.0L V6 XF when fine, low mileage examples of the 2011 5.0L NA V8 XF are available for a fraction of the cost.

    I currently have a 2012 XKR convertible (510HP Supercharged). It is a beast, and I love the open air driving.

    If you want an M class / AMG type sports sedan, get the 2011 or 2012 XFR, again with 510HP Supercharged, for the high $30s to low $40s. You owe it to yourself to drive one.

  • avatar
    blackEldo

    Let’s not forget that the XF rides on the same Ford platform developed in the 90s and used on the Lincoln LS and retro-tastic Thunderbird from the early 2000s (as well as the XF predecessor S-Type). Amazing what Jaguar’s been able to do with it, all things considered.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Would the Equalizer own one, that’s what I want to know.

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