2017 Jaguar XF 20d AWD R-Sport Road Test

In Fuji White and R-Sport trim the XF ideally defines elegant performance, while its 20d turbo-diesel powertrain adds a practical element too.

2017 Jaguar XF 20d AWD R-Sport
The beautiful Jaguar XF mid-size luxury-sport sedan gets turbo-diesel power for 2017. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
20d moniker is new for 2017, giving Jaguar an edge in a market with few competitors. Ironically, the Germans pioneered and propagated diesel power for more than a century, yet due to Volkswagen’s emissions scandals, dubbed Dieselgate when revealed in September of 2015, that impacted Audi in the premium sector, news of which eventually shed light on a reported “secret cartel” in the 1990s to collude on diesel emissions, claimed Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine in July of this year, which is said to have included Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, Porsche and Daimler (Mercedes-Benz), the big boys from Deutschland have abandoned the technology en masse and instead embraced all things electric. Full disclosure: after a short hiatus BMW still offers its 328d xDrive and X5 xDrive35d, but that’s it for Teutonic oil burners.

2017 Jaguar XF 20d AWD R-Sport
Stunning lines from all angles, the XF is one sexy cat. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
is pushing an electric agenda too, its upcoming compact I-Pace five-door crossover making this abundantly clear, but while plug-ins (and hybrids) remain less than one-percent of the global car market while gobbling up immense development resources the British luxury division of Indian parent Tata, along with its sister-brand Land Rover, are doing their best to woo disenfranchised diesel lovers with four-cylinder and V6 oil burners of their own. The latter BMW-engineered Td6 is used solely by the dedicated SUV brands, while the 20d is an in-house designed and built 2.0-litre four-cylinder that’s innovating in a market where its competitors were apparently machinating.

For starters the Ingenium diesel’s compression ratio is a sizeable 15.5-to-1 thanks to
2017 Jaguar XF 20d AWD R-Sport
LED headlamps join R-Sport trim details and optional 20-inch alloys. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
having no spark plugs to trigger the combustion process, the 20d instead utilizing heat generated from air compression to ignite inbound fuel. The result is 180 horsepower at 4,000 rpm and a considerable 318 lb-ft of torque between 1,750 and 2,500 rpm, the latter figures key to the mid-size Jag’s zealous performance. The word “eager” comes to mind, because its seemingly black and white 8.4-second jog to 100km/h doesn’t accurately explain its vibrant jump off the line and ever-willing zeal to sprint faster by merely feathering the throttle.

I’m not trying to compare it to the vim and vigor of the XF’s available gasoline-powered 3.0-litre V6 that puts out an even more engaging 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque in its most modest state of tune and 40 additional horsepower when
2017 Jaguar XF 20d AWD R-Sport
The XF offers a mostly high-quality interior filled with premium features. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
an “S” gets added to its nameplate, that last model zipping to 100km/h in just 5.3 seconds, nor for that matter the 2018 model’s impressive new Ingenium 2.0-litre gasoline-powered turbo-four that pushes the car to 100km/h in a mere 5.5 seconds thanks to 296 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, but none of these combine their performance with fuel economy equal to 7.8 L/100km in the city, 5.8 on the highway and 6.9 combined.

When not testing the XF’s performance credentials and merely puttering around town doing daily errands I achieved better than the posted limit, my mostly city average resulting in 6.7 L/100km, although my right foot seems to be tied to the wallet in my back pocket which makes for a particularly light touch on the throttle. Either way,
2017 Jaguar XF 20d AWD R-Sport
The XF driving position is excellent. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
the XF 20d is one of few cars I’ve driven that can exceed its claimed fuel economy rating if driven accordingly.

When testing the XF’s performance credentials I was hardly surprised by its near unflappable stability and athletic agility. After all, it rides on the same aluminum-intensive monocoque architecture as the F-Type sports car and all other Jaguar models, which means its lighter in weight than most peers, as well as stiffer in structure. This rigidity allows plenty of suspension travel for a wonderfully compliant ride without hampering handling, a best of both worlds combination that can be left to its own devices in Normal mode, adjusted via Jaguar Drive Control settings to eke yet more efficiency from a tank of fuel in Eco mode, aid traction in slippery conditions via Rain/Ice/Snow mode, or better yet, set to Dynamic sport mode to heighten all its senses.

2017 Jaguar XF 20d AWD R-Sport
Sporty analogue gauges combine with a large colour multi-info display at centre. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
XF comes standard with a fully independent double-wishbone front suspension and an integral-link rear setup that can be upgraded with Jaguar Adaptive Dynamics adjustable dampers, these capable of monitoring body movement 100 times per second and wheel/tire movement 500 times per second while simultaneously comparing data with vehicle speed, lateral Gs, yaw, tire grip, and more. It feeds everything through various algorithms and factors in individually chosen Jaguar Drive Control modes before instantaneously adjusting the damper control valves for ideal ride and handling. It’s a superb system that’s well worth the reasonable $1,020 charge.

I should mention that all XF’s use a ZF-sourced, Jaguar-tuned eight-speed automatic gearbox that shifts effortlessly when cruising
2017 Jaguar XF 20d AWD R-Sport
Superb switchgear quality gets topped off by a large highly functional infotainment touchscreen. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
and snappily when pushed hard, its standard paddle shifters enhancing the latter experience. Like most Jaguars, the pièce de résistance at startup is the rotating shifter that powers up from its otherwise flush position atop the lower console, but after choosing “R”, “D” or “S” any hands-on engagement must be via fingers on paddles.

All-wheel drive is also standard across the XF line, aiding grip no matter the road conditions, while All Surface Progress Control provides a sort of low-speed cruise control in slippery situations. Further handling-enhancing torque vectoring comes via the XF’s ABS-enhanced four-wheel discs, while performance-tuned traction and stability control provide the usual last resort and fortunately very effective failsafe support. Of course, the 255/35ZR Pirelli Cinturato P7s wrapped around big optional
2017 Jaguar XF 20d AWD R-Sport
This rotating gear selector powers up from the lower console at startup. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
20-inch alloys underneath did their duty and then some, this XF 20d AWD R-Sport a wonder to drive quickly whether tearing up a backcountry road or weaving through inner-city traffic.

R-Sport trim would be my personal choice as it adds to the XF’s performance equation both visually and veritably. It gets unique exterior styling details including a sportier front fascia, side sill extensions, plus a rear deck lid spoiler, as well as fabulous satin-chrome trim, gloss black window surrounds, LED headlamps with adaptive cornering and auto high beams, signature daytime running lights, upgraded sport seats, satellite radio, closing vehicle sensing, autonomous emergency braking, blindspot monitoring, reverse traffic detection, lane keeping assist,
2017 Jaguar XF 20d AWD R-Sport
Supple leather upholstery covers a pair of wonderfully comfortable powered front sport seats. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
and a driving condition monitor that sounds an alert if ever dozing while driving.

All of this kit gets added to much of the XF Prestige model’s upgrades that include puddle lamps, proximity-sensing keyless access, LED mood lighting, a heatable steering wheel, heatable front seats, four-way powered lumbar support, leather upholstery, navigation, front and rear parking sensors with visual indicators, InControl Apps, etcetera, while the base XF Premium is well equipped with auto on/off headlamps with LED signature lights, branded metal doorsills, pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, a universal garage door opener, rain-sensing wipers, genuine aluminum interior inlays, a full-colour TFT multi-information
2017 Jaguar XF 20d AWD R-Sport
Rear spaciousness is good for the class, while seat comfort is excellent. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
display, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a powered tilt and telescopic steering column, dual-zone auto climate control, an eight-inch Jaguar InControl Touch infotainment display with a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, 380-watt 11-speaker Meridian audio, powered front seats with driver-side memory, InControl Protect, InControl Remote, 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks, all the usual active and passive safety equipment, and the list goes on.

Pricing starts at $60,000 for 2017, but it should be noted the XF’s MSRP will actually go down to $58,900 for 2018 thanks to a new base 247 horsepower 2.0-litre four-cylinder (which incidentally propels the car to 100km/h in just 6.6 seconds), while my nicely equipped XF 20d AWD R-Sport came in at just over $78k as tested.

2017 Jaguar XF 20d AWD R-Sport
The trunk is quite large, well finished and expands via handy 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
is great value when compared to similarly equipped competitors, and as you might expect the XF holds nothing back on its rivals when measuring interior fit and finish, materials quality, and design. The entire dash top of my tester was contrast-stitched padded leather, while Jaguar finishes everything above the waist with soft-touch premium surfaces. A bit of a disappointment is the hard shell plastic glove box lid, which is substantively dense albeit not as nicely done as those that cover theirs with more pliable synthetics, while each side of the centre console and the lower door panels are made from lesser grade hard composites as well. There’s not much density to the black lacquered trim around the dash and across the doors either, but the textured metal that highlights the area below and across
2017 Jaguar XF 20d AWD R-Sport
The new 20d engine combines superb fuel economy with eager get-up-and-go. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
the instrument panel is very nicely done. All in all, the XF’s interior is a mixed bag of perceived quality, better than the XE but not as impressive as XJ. Of course, Jaguar isn’t alone when it comes to such materials issues, the Germans cutting similar corners in their quest for profitability, but at a time when mainstream volume-branded sedans are getting so very good at mimicking premium players, it’s probably smarter for luxury brands to make a special effort to rise above and beyond reproach.

If you can look past these very small and hardly critically important issues, the XF is a superb mid-size sport-luxury sedan that’s as beautiful to look at as it’s entertaining to drive, while when equipped with its ingenious Ingenium four-cylinder turbo-diesel 20d engine it becomes one of the most efficient cars in its class. That it can be had for as little as $60k and gets even more affordable for 2018 is all the more impressive, making the Jaguar XF well worth a closer look when it comes time to trade up from your current ride.
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