Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2016 review
Joshua Dowling road tests and reviews the new W213 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its international launch.
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Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the Jaguar XF S V6 with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
The XF Jaguar's new role in life is to properly go after the heavy hitters in the mid-size luxury segment, like the Mercedes-Benz E Class and BMW 5 Series. While it's hardly the most important sector in the Australian market in sales volume, it's still an important image-builder, especially for a brand that's relied on success in this area for the last decade.
The new XF is the difficult "second album" for the newly resurgent British (Indian-owned) carmaker and is yet to receive its crowning glory, the XF-R. So for now, the S is the quickest XF you can buy.
Standard offerings include an 11-speaker Meridian-branded stereo with USB, DAB+ and Bluetooth, 19-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, electric steering column and seats with memory, keyless entry and start, reversing camera with parking sensors front and rear, 360-degree cameras, cruise control, electric front seats, power windows and mirrors, auto headlights and wipers, satnav, active LED headlights, satnav, heads-up display, eight-inch touchscreen, auto-parking, leather trim, sports seats and adaptive suspension.
The weird thing about the XF is that it doesn't look as big as it actually is.
Our test car also had a sliding sunroof ($3200), 20-inch black alloys ($2650), reverse cross traffic detection and blind-sport monitoring ($1420), soft-close doors and keyless entry ($1300), powered bootlid ($1100), lane-keeping aid and driver drowsiness detection ($1060), Taurus leather seats ($1100) and Black Pack ($510), bringing us to a mildly scary $140,540.
The new XF and smaller XE look very similar, but as always the devil is in the detail. The weird thing about the XF is that it doesn't look as big as it actually is, which is a good thing when you're trying to convey the kind of lithe sportiness the brand suggests. Designer Ian Callum knows a thing or two about proportions.
In this top-of-the-range version, you can pick it out by the LED headlights with J-blade daytime running lights, subtle pumping of various body bits and in our case the black pack plus black wheels with the Storm Grey paint. Put it all together and the S is a menacing machine. The Black Pack blacks out various trim pieces, most notably the grille and the blades on the front guards, giving it a delightfully evil air.
Inside, things are a little less adventurous than one might hope, although the brilliantly aggressive seats make up for that mild disappointment. It's a fairly uncluttered interior, with good space and a minimalist approach.
The signature rotary dial for the gear selector sits flush in the console until you start the car, when it creeps out, while the seemingly blank dash panels have tumbling sections hiding the air vents when the car is off. It's like watching an engineering ballet every time you touch the start button.
The steering wheel is replete with a Jag leaper – I defy anyone not to idly run their fingers across the brushed aluminium cat while sitting at the lights. It's a nice touch.
The materials could probably do with a bit more attention because at this level Audi and BMW hand out a bit of a hiding (literally, in some cases) on that front, and the fit of some of the trim pieces in the Jag isn't as close to perfect as it could be.
Rear seats are surprisingly roomy but the diving roofline obviously robs some headroom. Our six-foot offspring was happy in most directions, with the headlining cut out to allow for taller folk to sit upright.
There are bottle holders front and rear and four cupholders (a pair in the front and a pair in the back). The glove box is a decent size and the boot is a rectangular 505 litres – don't tell anyone, though, or you'll spend your whole life transporting people's Ikea purchases. The seats split and fold and also have a ski port.
The XF scored the maximum of five available stars in ANCAP testing in February 2016.
Jaguar's InControl Touch software powers satnav and stereo and still isn't running with its rivals. It's way better than the old car (which was tragic, if I'm being honest) but the hardware still seems a bit slow. You can spec the larger 10-inch screen with InControl Touch Pro and a gruntier stereo, but I think at 130 large the bigger screen should be standard.
The satnav is a bit thick on occasions and demands U-turns at traffic lights after being painful to program in the first place.
The heads-up display is an arresting combination of green and orange coloured graphics, which took some getting used to. The detail of the satnav directions is good, but there was little adjustment available.
The XF S 35t – for the time being – is powered by a 3.0 litre supercharged V6 and is unique in the segment. Shared with the F Type coupe, the six produces 280kW and 450Nm, 30kW up on the same engine in the Portfolio and R-Sport 35t-badged cars. Jaguar claims a 0-100km/h sprint of 5.3 seconds while delivering an alleged 8.3L/100km on the combined cycle.
This supercharged petrol XF is by far the best to drive and this engine is an absolute belter.
The sprint time feels about right but the fuel figure was rather less accurate at 12.6L/100km on fairly light duties. The XF's transmission is an eight-speed ZF with stop-start, driving all 1710kg of Jag via the rear wheels.
This supercharged petrol XF is by far the best to drive and this engine is an absolute belter. While it can also be found in the F Type, turning heads and activating tinnitus, it is not the same frantic, scenery-chewing character actor in the XF.
It's much smoother, considered and quiet, even in Dynamic mode. There's a ton of power available from idle, however, and it's refreshing to drive a car that just doesn't have any lag. There's forced induction, but it's courtesy of a belt-driven intercooled supercharger rather than the more fashionable turbocharger. It may not be as efficient, but the muted howl and super drivability more than make up for it.
Foot down, the XF goes like a rocket off the line, the supercharger singing and the engine pinging cleanly off the redline as it grabs each gear. When you're tooling around more sedately, it's superbly flexible and is always super-smooth.
Despite being fitted with massive alloys and lowered S suspension, the XF is incredibly composed in all circumstances and impressively quiet, even at freeway speeds, the only real racket coming from the fat rubber on poor surfaces.
The XF is missing some of the visible technological edge of its rivals, especially in the area of interior toys and the overall quality of the features it does have. Underneath the skin it's bang up to date, with plenty of lightweight materials and advanced construction, and there's more to come with the switch to straight-six Ingenium power (albeit turbo rather than supercharged).
The XF is arguably the most beautiful car in its segment and is lovely to drive while being a special place to be. On balance, your head will tell you the Germans are better value for money at this level, but they don't have the Jag's super-sexy styling or that unbeatable badge.
|20D Prestige||2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$37,600 – 48,620||2016 Jaguar XF 2016 20D Prestige Pricing and Specs|
|20D R-Sport||2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$37,200 – 48,180||2016 Jaguar XF 2016 20D R-Sport Pricing and Specs|
|25T Portfolio||2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$45,100 – 56,980||2016 Jaguar XF 2016 25T Portfolio Pricing and Specs|
|25T R-Sport||2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$40,900 – 52,360||2016 Jaguar XF 2016 25T R-Sport Pricing and Specs|