Put aside your preconceptions and the XF i4 is fantastic to drive...
Powertrain and performance: 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four, 177kW/340Nm, 8-speed automatic, rear-drive, Combined economy 8.9 litres per 100km, 0-100km/h 7.9 seconds.
Vital statistics: 4961mm long, 1460mm high, kerb weight 1660kg, luggage capacity 500 litres, fuel tank 70 litres.
We like: Smooth engine. Rewarding to drive, outstanding value.
We don’t like: Looks undernourished on small wheels, cabin detailing a touch gauche.
How it rates: 8/10
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
Jaguar can downsize with the best of them. Not so long ago, an XF with a 2.0-litre petrol engine would have sounded as unlikely as, well, a Falcon with a 2.0-litre petrol engine.
No any longer, with advances in low-capacity, high-output power plants. In fact, the engine in the XF is exactly the same one that you’ll find in the Falcon: part of Ford’s high-tech new Eco Boost family, although Jaguar wouldn’t like you to call it that. Under the bonnet of an XF, it’s officially the ‘i4’ power plant.
What’s the connection? Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) was formerly owned by Ford, so a number of its models were engineered for these power plants (Freelander and Evoque among them), and of course those deals carry on for the time being – even though JLR has been the property of India’s Tata since 2008.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
Put aside your preconceptions and the XF i4 is fantastic to drive. Not that you’ll have any preconceptions if you’ve driven a Falcon Eco Boost, as the Jaguar’s engine is in an almost-identical state of tune. And the Falcon is awesome.
Yes, it’s a four, but 177kW/340Nm is equivalent power to many sixes: indeed, the XF i4 has better performance than the 3.0-litre V6 petrol it replaces. A four will never sound like a V6 (at least not without some sound-enhancing trickery) but this engine does have a purposeful soundtrack and the power delivery is beautifully linear. As is the eight-speed automatic gearbox.
One further advantage of the i4 is that it’s at least 100kg lighter than its more powerful siblings, which not only helps in a straight line but also in the corners. Keep in mind that virtually all of that buk has been removed from the front of the car and you have an XF that feels just that bit more nimble than the rest of the range.
So we’d rather throw one of these things around than an XFR? Don’t be ridiculous. But the XF i4 is a truly impressive and entertaining machine for the keen driver. The XF is one of the best drivers’ cars in the segment in whatever form.
IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH?
The XF is a large sedan (perhaps larger than you think, being just under five metres long), but it’s not all about space and practicality. Would be a bit sad if it was actually.
That sleek shape and the cosseting cabin environment expected of a Jaguar means the XF feels a bit smaller than it really is. This is a marque with a reputation for beautiful cabin finishes and the XF mostly lives up to it. Mostly. Style-wise it’s superb, but the impression of quality is a bit dependent on the materials chosen. I’ve been in XFs with various types of wood-grain trim and they are superb. The ones that attempt a more modern ambience – like our test car, with a garish silver colour scheme.
The instrumentation is very elegant and a touchscreen interface with satellite navigation is standard, although it’s feeling a bit old-tech now next to systems form rival makers: the graphics are a bit tired and the screen itself is sluggish to respond to the touch, although it has been improved with a recent XF upgrade.
SHOULD I BUY ONE?
Go on, treat yourself. At $90,000 the XF i4 is outstanding value: it’s an entry-level prestige model that really doesn’t make you feel like you’re doing without.
Okay, maybe some larger wheels would give the thing a bit more street appeal, albeit at the expense of what is an astonishingly smooth ride.
And perhaps not in purple like our test car. Small issues though...
Air conditioning: Dual climate
Audio: CD, iPod compatible
Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/yes
Blind spot warning: No
Cruise control: Yes
Driver footrest: Yes
Gas discharge headlights: Yes
Head-up display: No
Heated/ventilated seats: No
Keyless entry/start: Yes/Yes
Lane guidance: No
Leather upholstery: Yes
Parking radar: Yes with camera
Power boot or tailgate: No
Power seat adjustment: Yes
Remote audio controls: Yes
Satellite navigation: Yes
Seat height adjustment: Yes
Self-parking technology: No
Split/folding rear seats: 60/40
Steering reach adjustment: Yes
Stop-start: YesTrip computer