2015 Jaguar XF 3.0 Sport review: Jaguar's XF performs like 2015, but still feels like 2008

Pricing Unavailable
  • Available Engine Gas
  • Body style sedan

Roadshow Editors' Rating

6.7 Overall
  • Performance 7.5
  • Features 6
  • Design 7
  • Media 6

The Good The Jaguar XF offers an understated design and an old-school feel with modern underpinnings. The standard infotainment system is snappy and crisply rendered, boasting a full list of digital media sources to feed its Meridian premium audio system.

The Bad Driver aid options are limited to just the basics. The infotainment design and organization feel dated and complicated.

The Bottom Line The 2015 Jaguar XF 3.0 Sport is a no-frills take on the modern sport sedan. Drivers looking for the latest tech should look to competing models or wait for next year's redesign.

Though the sedan's interior design is classic and understated, Jaguar's use of materials gives the 2015 XF 3.0 Sport's cabin a luxurious first impression. The XF's leather trimmed interior makes heavy use of glossy black plastic and large swaths of semiglossy silver. There's also quite a bit of shiny chrome trim; probably too much, as glare becomes a bit of an issue in harsh midday light.

Beneath the old luxury look, there's an element of modern drama to entering and starting the XF. Settling into the cushy bucket seat, I noticed that the start button isn't just illuminated, it pulses red not unlike a heartbeat while the car waits to be started. Mash the button and the engine springs to life with a satisfying growl. Meanwhile, the vents for the climate control rotate into an open position and the shiny chrome shift knob rises from the center console. All of the moving parts are a bit gimmicky, but definitely draw oohs and ahhs from passengers.

The XF's transmission selector rises from the console when the engine is started. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

On the road or parked, the XF's cabin is generally a nice place to be. It's quiet, comfortable and understated. Everything looks well-made, with a few exceptions. Most obviously are the hollow-feeling black plastic paddle shifters on the steering wheel, which have a bit of an economy car feel. The face of the steering wheel is home to the chrome and rubber thumb controls for the audio system, which look nice enough, but have a mushy, vague feel. The paddles and thumb controls aren't deal breakers, but as points that the driver frequently touches, more attention to detail on would be nice.

In the center of the dashboard is the standard Jaguar infotainment rig, where you'll interact with the navigation system, audio sources and climate controls. This system feels more and more antiquated every time I see it, particularly as the Jaguar brand becomes more and more modern. The system offers a decent and extensive list of audio sources to pump into the XF's 380-watt Meridian audio system -- which, by the way, sounds pretty darn good. However, the touchscreen looks too busy and overly skeuomorphic. Operation is quick and the maps for navigation are crisply rendered, but I found that the design had a tendency to clutter the screen with too much information and even small operations required too much of my attention.

Driver aid technology for the XF is limited to a blind-spot information system and a standard rear camera. There simply aren't a lot of bells and whistles available to the Jag; this feels like an old-school car with a modern power train.

Though modern in its operation, the infotainment feels like it was designed a decade ago -- much like the XF itself. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Speaking of power trains, the XF is only available with an eight-speed automatic transmission that, as I mentioned earlier, uses a novel rotary transmission selector that rises out of the center console like a giant chrome volume knob when the car is started. The gearbox features normal, sport, and manual shift programs. Our example sends power to the rear wheels, but the XF 3.0 Sport is available with all-wheel drive.

Near the shifter, you'll find buttons to toggle the Dynamic and Winter driving modes: the former amps up the responsiveness of the engine and slightly loosens the stability control's grip, while the latter has the opposite effect on the sedan's performance. Jaguar is also one of the only automakers I've seen to make prominent an automatic speed limiter (ASL) button, which lets drivers set a maximum speed that the car won't be able exceed. This is an odd feature that seems to be aimed at lead-footed drivers who frequently move through heavy speed-camera coverage.

At the heart of the XF is the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6. This engine delivers 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of smooth, effortless torque and feels like an excellent match for the sedan. A smaller turbo four-cylinder engine is available at lower trim levels and various flavors of Jag's supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 with up to 550 horsepower are available above.

To help the XF reach its EPA estimated 22 combined mpg (18 city mpg and 28 highway) the sedan features an anti-idling functionality that shuts down the engine when the car is stopped and fires it back up when the driver releases the brake. I found the system a bit annoying in heavy traffic (where the car would often stop, but only for an instant), but generally tolerable at intersections with longer stops.

The supercharged V-6 model is able to deliver just enough driving joy to justify its Sport moniker, but the suspension tune and the engine's performance are more balanced with a heavy emphasis on comfort -- as the midtier model in this lineup should. The XF never feels as dynamic as most of it's competition, but is also a much simpler, no-frills sort of sport sedan than most, which is refreshing in its own way.

Of course, if you're looking for something a bit angrier, a bit more aggressive and, frankly, much more bonkers, there's the rip-snorting, tire-shredding XFR-S at the top of the line.

Though more aggressive than the standard model, the XF 3.0 Sport's understated design still borders on boring. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Like the performance and the interior, the exterior design is also understated, bordering on boring. Inside and out, the XF's design hasn't changed much since its 2008 debut, despite periodic facelifts during that time. The XF doesn't draw a ton of attention to itself, but it's a handsome ride when you're really taking it in. Again, there's lots of chrome to be found on the standard model's chassis, but our 3.0 Sport model adds a bit of aggression to the styling by substituting glossy black trim for much of its brightwork, unique bumpers, side sills and rear spoiler and 20-inch dark gray sport wheels.

The Jaguar XF doesn't offer much in the way of a la carte options, just a few basic trim levels. The sedan starts at $50,175 for the base 2-liter model, but our 2015 XF 3.0-liter Sport carries an MSRP of $57,175. Add a $925 destination charge to reach our as tested price of $58,100. About the only option at this trim level is all-wheel drive, which adds $2,700 to the bottom line.

In the Australian market a supercharged V-6 XF has a drive-away price of about AU$101,763.75. In the UK, the XF is available with a variety of diesel engines, which makes apples-to-apples comparisons with our US market example tricky. There the XF R-Sport with its 197 horsepower, 332 pound-foot 2.2-liter turbodiesel seems the closest to our as-tested model and starts at £36,250.

Compared with its competition, 2015 XF is a bit antiquated. Fortunately, a major redesign should be just around the corner. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

The XF finds itself priced to compete with the likes of the BMW 535i, the Lexus GS350 F-Sport, and Infiniti Q50, all much more dynamic vehicles with much more available tech, which makes the Jag a tough sell. I should also note that the XF is due for a major redesign at this year's New York auto show, potentially bringing new available tech to the mix, which is yet another reason to hold off on a 2015 XF purchase.

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