Jaguar XF 3.0 litre Supercharged: Performance, Beauty and Soul

Beautiful design in and out, new S/C V6 engine powerful and smooth, superb ride, competitive price

A couple (literally) of interior parts look cheap, 8-speed ‘box can be jolty at low speeds

Jaguar XF and details of the exterior

Jaguar XF?

The 2013 Jaguar XF 3.0L Petrol S/C Portfolio has just been delivered for review. I walk outside to take a look around the XF, and instantly I’m in love with its design. With powerful, handsome looks, this new supercharged XF is going to catch a lot of attention. Let’s have a look how it started out first. Arriving in 2007 in concept form, the Jaguar XF instantly appealed to a new audience. The previous X-Type  and S-Type were just not ‘Jaguar’ enough for most, and from the exterior styling to the interior (many Ford parts being used), there was a definite lack of flair about them. With the arrival of the new range of Jaguar’s including the XF, Jag has returned to the days of great styling and classy interiors – thank goodness for that!

Exterior. Butt ugly or beauty?

2013 saw a facelift on the XF, with an even further streamlined look and more aggressive front headlights. We were sent the XF 3.0L V6 S/C (supercharged) in Portfolio spec, which has 20″ alloy wheels and ‘rubber band’ low-profile tyres, which fill the arches nicely.

White Jaguar XF

Let’s get one thing said immediately – this is a beautiful car. It’s a wonderful mix of sporty while retaining an air of class. The XF 3.0L S/C is a powerful-looking beast too, and turned heads every time I drove it. The bonnet has heavy lines that ripple and bulge like a body-builder’s muscles, and while the front headlights stare aggressively, the ‘blades’ that sit within the low air intakes look like the pointed sideways teeth of some fictional monster.

Our car was finished in Polaris White – a colour so clean and bright that I had to wear sunglasses when cleaning it – and this only attracts more attention. When out driving, I found people stop what they’re doing to look at the XF, twisting around to see it drive off when they hear the low, smooth growl of that supercharged V6. Parked up, people of all ages stare – not just glance – admiringly at the Jaguar, and its handsome appearance attracts comments from both genders equally – something that normally only blokes do, boring their dis-interested partners in the process (’tis a fact).

Supercharged Jaguar XF in the country

A low roof and narrow side windows also add to the aerodynamic, sleek appearance of the XF, and it looks distinctly coupé-like because of those. The twenty-inch 10-spoke ‘Hydra’ design alloy wheels are beautiful too, although to give the XF 3.0L S/C an even more assertive look we’d either have the Hydra wheels repainted in black, or spec the 20″ Kalimnos Gloss Black wheels instead.

The rear light clusters have to be mentioned too, as their design is superb. They are contemporary and won’t date easily, and a feature I absolutely loved and one not immediately obvious, is the tiny Jaguar emblem within the sides of the clusters. Have a look the next time you’re near one.

A Jaguar in the rear light cluster of the Jaguar XF

An overview of the exterior design of the XF 3.0 S/C Portfolio is that it’s a handsome, powerful-looking machine that maintains a sophisticated look, attracting much-deserved attention wherever you drive it.

Rear view of the Polaris white Jaguar XF

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

Slipping inside the XF in Portfolio spec makes you instantly feel like you’ve entered a special place. Pull the heavy door shut and it clunks into place with a quality feel. Suddenly it’s serene and peaceful – much like putting on a set of those cool noise-cancelling headphones on a plane journey. Ahhhhh. Annnnd relax. I reported in a test on the Subaru Outback about it being quiet inside, and the Jaguar is similar, only it’s even more hushed a place – a cocoon of silence.

Touch and feel the interior, and it is immediately obvious that nearly every single piece and part is high grade and built to a high standard too. It is, in fact, sumptuous. Cast your eyes top-to-bottom of the Portfolio spec’d XF, and you’ll first notice the soft, dark ‘Suedecloth’ headlining, then see stitched leather lining on the dash and doors, meeting modern-design aluminium pieces, and in turn piano-black trim so luscious and deep that it in itself is a feature which captures the eye of everyone entering the XF.

Triptych of details of the interior of the Jaguar XF

Any plastics that are used on buttons are, for the majority, either rubberised or have a quality feel to them. Trim pieces I thought needed definite improvement were the controls for the electric seats, which looked cheap and out of place in this spec of XF, and also the plastic paddle shifters behind the steering wheel felt inexpensive too.

Talking of the electric seats, the XF’s are ridiculously comfortable, with eighteen way adjustment which includes being able to move the base of the seat to suit your leg-length, and inflate the sides of the backrest to hold you in place for more spirited driving. They’re also three-stage heated and cooled. Since the Sun finally decided to show its lazy ass here in the U.K, the cooled seats were used a few times, and being able to choose the cooling in either the seat or backrest or both mean they are excellent. It’s surprising how much more relaxed it makes you when the sun is blazing in through the windows.

four photos of the interior of the Jaguar XF

The rear is certainly comfortable too, at least on the side seats, and they are raked at the perfect angle. Sat in the back, you feel very much like you’re getting the V.I.P treatment, and there’s leg-room to match too. There are vents in the rear, but only to control airflow, not heat settings.

All the Jaguar XF’s controls are laid out very well, and it’s certainly easy for the driver to find whatever they need, even when driving hard. I have a suspicion that Jaguar’s interior designers have been taking notes from James Bond’s ingenious inventor ‘Q’. Here’s why; hold the small start/stop button down for a couple of seconds to fire that smooth V6 into life, and not only does the gear selector rise from the centre console gracefully, but the aluminium-fronted air vents also roll over to reveal the vent slats. I will never, ever get tired of those features. Ever.

At night, the XF has soft blue lighting emitting from around the driver and front passengers inside door handles, and surrounding the gear selector, heating and stereo controls are lines lit in neon blue which appear as chrome in the daytime. It’s very clever, super-cool and have Jag’s designer’s stolen idea’s from the Batmobile? Quite possibly.

Jaguar XF cockpit at night

Turn on the multimedia system in the XF S/C Portfolio, select your favourite driving music and you’ll be rewarded with a sound that is rich, one that immerses you and makes you feel immersed in the music. This comes from the 825W Meridian surround sound system, which packs in seventeen speakers throughout the car. Ten more than the standard XF set-up!  A feature of the system I liked was the ultra-simplistic way to set up the sound you want, which meant selecting Bass, Treble, Sub(woofer) and 4 surround-type options. No need for complexities, and the sound is still amazing.

Six photos of the screen in the Jaguar XF Portfolio

The touchscreen multimedia system also incorporates the rearview camera plus the settings for the heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel, satellite navigation (which is good, by the way), phone, bluetooth, DAB radio and voice controls, amongst other things. It’s an easy system to navigate through, and overall I enjoyed using it.

At 500 litres (with space-saver spare wheel), the XF saloon’s boot space is adequate enough for a few big bags or a couple of large suitcases, and I was surprised to find that the seats folded down 60/40, giving a decent 923 litres of room. The XF I tested came with the £260 ski-hatch option, which I can see being very handy if you’re into that.With the armrest down, a small compartment opens and a fold out bag made of durable material pulls out and will fit your ski’s inside, stopping dirt and water ruining the leather seats.

Boot space of the Jaguar XF

Overall, I conclude that the Jaguar XF 3.0L V6 S/C Portfolio has an interior that you cannot fail to love. It is classy, modern and built to a standard that way surpassed my expectations. I may be gushing about the Jag’s interior, but I have absolute reason for this. Go and sit in an XF for yourself, and you’ll see why.

Engine and gearbox

And now to talk about the powerplant of this XF – the 3.0 litre V6 supercharged engine. New for 2013, it replaces the last naturally-aspirated V8. Actually, it’s essentially the same unit as the V8 supercharged with two less cylinders and around 165 hp less. No matter, this 24-valve V6 using a Roots twin-vortex supercharger is an excellent engine and has power adequate enough, dear potential purchaser. With 335 hp and 450 Nm (332 ft lbs) of torque, the XF will make any drive a pleasant one.

Jaguar XF supercharged engine

Jaguar’s supercharged V6 is a beautifully-engineered engine, and one that is a pleasure to even start up. The low, smooth hum from both the exhausts and engine is pleasant and sophisticated – the type of noise you only get from an expensive car.

Fuel economy can be good, if you drive the XF in a relaxed manner. Jaguar claim 20 mpg urban, 29 combined and around 40 combined. That’s some astounding figures for such an engine, and they’re down to Jag’s engineering wizardry plus the featured Intelligent Start/Stop, but also that 8-speed automatic gearbox which allows low rpm at even motorway speeds – I’ll talk about in the drive section. Drive it quickly though, and it’ll be meaner to your wallet than a school bully.

If there’s even a single person sat reading this thinking ‘Hmm, if I drive carefully carefully, I can still get good milage in this‘, then my advice to you is don’t buy it. There is no point buying a car with such an excellent engine to potter about like you’re drivin’ Miss Daisy – it’s a misuse, and people will physically boo you for wasting its potential. I would! Also, Jaguar sell a range of frugal diesels, so go look at those instead.

3 photos of the Jaguar XF outside a Victorian country house

An automatic sequential eight-speed transmission is now standard on all the XF’s, and overall it’s a nice gearbox. It’s super-fast at changing, especially if you’re using the ‘manual mode’ paddles on the steering wheel. It goes through the gears smoothly when accelerating hard too. A quibble I have however is that at low town speeds all those gears mean it’s changing up and down a lot, and it can be little jerky or jolt obviously when changing. Not in a harsh manner, but the movement is still there.

In summary, I rate the XF’s 3.0L V6 supercharged engine and gearbox highly. The engine is silky-smooth, powerful and sounds magnificent, while the 8-speed gearbox allows low rpm and decent fuel economy while my only gripe is the slight jolts at low-speed driving.

Ready to roll? Let’s drive!

Sat in the Jaguar, you settle quickly into the comfort that surrounds you. The low, dark headlining gives a distinct air of sports car and sets the mood nicely. Foot on the brake pedal, you hold down the starter button for a couple of seconds before being greeted with the super-smooth purr of that V6 firing into life. The Jaguar gives an automatic quick blip of the throttle as it starts, before settling down to idle. The exhaust note is throaty, but not intrusive. Even sat inside the car with the door open, the sound deadening in the XF is so effective that most of the noise is blocked out. Want the full benefit? Then stand outside to get the full effect of those pipes.

Rig photo of the Jaguar XF

Give the throttle a few quick pushes and the twin exhausts suddenly come alive. Low down, they give a meaty growl, but reach the 4,000 rpm mark – limited while the car is stationary – and that growl become a howl which crackles, barks and snarls angrily at being leashed back.

Select ‘D’ on the beautifully-crafted dial, and set off. The XF pulls forward in near-silence, and glides along in a manner more befitting big luxury cars than a sports saloon. It is something most passengers commented on almost as soon as the Jaguar moved off, and it’s more obvious still when you’re the driver. My old mid-nineties Mercedes-Benz 280E automatic gave that same feeling, and it’s something I’ve looked for since in other ‘normal’ cars, but never found. It’s the sign you’re driving something well-engineered and well-built.

Drive in a calm manner, and the XF 3.0L S/C rewards with an utterly serene ride that will surprise you at first. It’s the kind of car you’d want waiting at the airport after a long-haul flight. The XJ would be even more tranquil possibly, but we’ll report on that when we get one to test. The XF also rode really satisfactorily over harsh city surfaces, and across even those evil ‘speed humps’ the Jaguar XF was unperturbed, flowing rather than bouncing.

3 photos of driving the Jaguar XF

With a three-litre supercharged engine, no-one can hold it against the driver wanting to give it the beans once in a while. In fact, if you buy one and don’t it would absolutely be a crime. This is a car that wills you to drive it in a spirited way. The 30 mph mark on the 3.0L S/C is so low down on the dial that you have to be wary. It does not like going at under forty miles-per-hour, in fact. It reminds me of my dog; he’ll walk sedately to a point, but there’s always a slight straining at the leash and as soon as I unclip that leash, he’s sprinted off into the distance joyously.

The Jaguar does the same, and once you round that bend and see a long, wide stretch of tarmac ahead, here’s a perfect chance to let the XF stretch its legs. With the sprint to 60 mph taking 5.7, this is not slow off the mark, but we’re driving a car whose acceleration impresses far more on the move. Turn the dial to ‘S’ for sports mode, and plant that accelerator and the big cat bounds forward with a strong turn of speed. It’s not a vicious attack that leaves you scared and your neck hurting, it more akin to a huge wave pushing you forward powerfully. The speedometer climbs quickly, the V6 supercharged engine propelling the XF onward at a good rate of knots. The needle swings past sixty miles-per-hour without even a hint of trying, and 70 to 100 mph is like a stroll in park for the Jaguar. Into triple figures and the XF 3.0L V6 S/C bounds on to either a (limited) 155 mph, or until you decide to back off that go pedal.

Rig photo of the Jaguar XF

The lovely thing about this Jag is that you can give it a damn good caning whenever you wish and the car will respond willingly, but as soon as you want it to be sedate, it’s back to an easy cruiser. Talking of cruising, because of that 8-speed transmission, the XF does very low revs when at seventy or eighty miles per hour. On a flat road, we clocked the Jaguar at just 1,400 rpm at 70 mph. Slowing down for country roads, at forty mph, we had it at almost tick-over at just 1,100 rpm! The fact that the XF did this without the engine struggling or choking at such low rpm was astounding and I can absolutely believe that you would be achieving excellent fuel economy like that.

Back onto twisting sections of tarmac, and although the XF 3.0L supercharged is composed and you can push on, you definitely know that this not a lightweight car at 1,770 kilograms (3,902 lbs). It’s certainly not ungainly, but is graceful through the turns rather than feeling agile. The XF features ‘Adaptive Dynamics’ which – according Jaguar’s website – ‘monitors and analyses speed, steering and body movement 500 times a second [and]… electronic dampers constantly adjust to give you optimum suspension under any conditions’.

Of course, as with most modern cars the XF has Dynamic Stability Control too, and this can be turned off totally by holding down the traction control button. However, do that at your own peril, because unless you have access to a track with wide tarmac and no barriers at the sides you will most certainly end up spinning out quickly and messily, especially if it’s wet. Once the XF three-litre S/C goes, it goes big time. If you want more fun with less danger than switching off the DSC system off altogether, push the button with the little flag on it and you’ll activate Dynamic Mode. This will turn on TracDSC which allows for more slip than full DSC, and in turn makes driving more involved (more fun, in other words) for whoever’s behind the wheel.

Driving the Jaguar XF Portfolio

One more cool point to mention about the XF, and that is the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) – an option costing £1,275. This is a truly superb feature and would be absolutely great if you want to do a long trip. ACC uses the normal cruise control, except when you set it the XF will slow down when it comes up to another car driving below your set speed, and then get back up to your setting once the vehicle in front moves or speeds up. I like the fact that you can set the distance between your Jag and the car in front too. The ACC is so effective that even when I slowed from sixty to around twenty miles-per-hour at  roundabout, the ACC stayed on and the XF sped back up once we’d cleared that. Very, very neat.

The Jaguar XF 3.0L V6 S/C is a great drive. Sporty enough to have fun in, and with easily enough power to embarrass everyday saloons should they try it on. The XF is a superb car to drive, and a great ‘compromise’ to paying around £13,000 for the 5.0 V8 XFR.

Jaguar XF Wheel and front light

Price

Including optional extra’s, our test Jaguar XF 3.0L V6 S/C Portfolio came out at just over £53,000. To a lot, it may seem like a fair chunk to pay for a car but the Jaguar feels like it is worth every penny, such is the quality of the overall package. Challengers to this XF three-litre supercharged (in similar spec) would be the Infiniti M37 S Premium which comes in at around £46K, the BMW 530i M Sport Saloon at around £55,500 and the Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 AMG Sport at £55,000 (configurator  not working so could be more).

Jaguar XF 3.0L V6 S/C Portfolio verdict & score

Jaguar has some stiff competition in the upscale car market, but the XF three-litre supercharged Portfolio has a well… Jaguar feel. Buyers will perhaps purchase an XF for its very British character and soul. It exudes class with a stunningly handsome exterior, while the interior design mixes absolute style and refinement, the drive can deliver serenity and enjoyment plus that new-for-2013 3.0 litre V6 supercharged engine is thoroughly superb too.

Exterior  9
Interior  9
Engine  9
Gearbox  8.5
Price  8.5
Drive  8.5
Overall Score  9 / 10

Specs

Model (as tested)  2013 Jaguar XF 3.0L Petrol S/C Portfolio
Spec includes Driver/passenger 18-way electric heated & cooled seats, sat nav/entertainment system with bluetooth & 825W Meridian surround system, active cruise control, 20″ wheels See spec sheet for more
Options you should spec  Active Cruise Control (ACC)
Price (as tested)  £53,000 on the road
Engine  2,995cc (3.0L), 24-valve with Roots-type twin-vortex supercharger
Power, Torque, CO2  335 hp (340 ps), 332 lb/ft (450 Nm) | CO2: 224 g/km
Drive, Gears (as tested)  Rear-wheel-drive, 8-speed sequential gearbox
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, EuroNCAP  Max speed (limited): 155 mph | 0 – 60 mph: 5.7 seconds | No NCAP rating as yet
Fuel economy (mpg)  Urban: 20.3 mpg, Extra Urban: 40.4 mpg, Combined: 29.4 mpg
Weight (base)  1,770 kg (3,902 lbs)
Websites  Jaguar UK, Jaguar America, Jaguar Worldwide

Check out our other car reviews

Words: Chris Davies | Tested by: Chris Davies | Photography: Jason Fanthorpe, Chris Davies, Matthew Davies

Leave a Reply