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2016 Jaguar XF Sheds Weight in its Second Generation

Luxury sedan migrates to Jag’s iQ platform.

If you could peel back the skin of the second-generation 2016 Jaguar XF, which premieres at the New York International Auto Show, you'd find it looks a whole lot like the aluminum-intensive Jaguar XE. That's big news, as it will help the mid-size sedan lose 132 pounds in rear-wheel-drive form and 265 pounds in all-wheel-drive guise.

The 2016 model year redesign pulls the XF into Jaguar's one-platform-fits-all iQ architecture fold. The XJ flagship, already aluminum-intensive, will be the last existing model to make that conversion when it's redesigned for the 2018 model year. Prior to the XJ's redesign, the new F-Pace crossover wagon launches on the platform in the 2016 calendar year.

Despite these intensive changes, the 2016 Jaguar XF looks quite a bit like the model that sold from 2009 to 2015 model. That's largely on purpose.

"The key challenge is that we didn't want to change things," says Ian Hobin, Jaguar's vehicle line director, so designers and engineers set out to "keep everything that made the XF popular… and deliver more."

As a result, the new 2016 Jaguar XF looks very much like the old car, though with the advantages of the iQ architecture, which allows for the biggest back-seat package among E-segment luxury sedans, says Ian Callum, Jaguar's design chief. "I hardly believe it myself."

While the wheelbase is 2.0-inches longer, overall length drops by 0.3 inches. There's more headroom, though overall height is 0.1 inches lower, and Jaguar says the drag coefficient has dropped from 0.29 to 0.26.

The 2016 Jaguar XF borrows its new double-wishbone front suspension from the F-Type. There's an integral link rear, like on the XE. Hobin touts the chassis' "optimal bandwidth" for "control, comfort and poise." Adaptive suspension, which can adjust damping forces up to 500 times per second, will be optional

Compared to the old XF, about 83 percent of parts on the 2016 model are new, and 75 percent of it is built from aluminum. Jaguar also used magnesium for several full-width chassis braces, and ultra-high-strength boron steel for improved crash protection in the B-pillar.

For the first model year of sales, engine choices will comprise the 340-hp and 380-hp versions of Jaguar's 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, both with an 8-speed automatic transmission and with a choice between rear- and all-wheel drive. The 380-hp version, sold only as an S model that also has a more aggressive body kit, will hit 60 mph in a claimed 5.0 seconds with AWD. A 240-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four will launch after that. Even later, a new four-cylinder turbodiesel Ingenium engine is also slated to join the ranks. In keeping with Jag's emphasis on low-weight, the diesel will be about 180 pounds lighter than its closest competitor, Hobin says.

The all-wheel-drive system is a new chain-operated system that the company claims is 16 percent lighter and 10 percent more fuel efficient, as well as quieter, than the AWD systems in the F-Type and XJ. To quell any fears that AWD saps the car's performance credibility, officials note the car primarily operates in rear-drive mode, only engaging the front axle when the rears slip. With rear- or all-wheel drive, the XF also has a new traction-control feature called All-Surface Progress Control. The driver picks a target speed between 2 and 19 mph, and the car automatically modulates the throttle and brakes on slippery surfaces (for instance uphill in snow) while the driver has only to steer. All models also have brake-based "torque vectoring" that slows the inside rear wheel through turns.

Jaguar's new InTouch Pro information/entertainment system has a 10.2-inch touchscreen to complement the optional 12.3-inch digital reconfigurable instrument cluster. Clever features for InTouch Pro include HERE navigation, with predictive traffic and panoramic street views, as well as a flight tracker that alerts drivers if a flight has been delayed and directs them to the airport, and various smartphone audio and social-media app connections. While some features will operate through the driver's smartphone, others will likely require XF owners to pay for data service and provide their own SIM card. The instrument cluster has four visual themes, and can also be switched to a full-width, 3D color map when using the navigation.

As to the new sheetmetal, "it's possibly the most fun and most challenging design I've worked with," Callum says. He had to make the 2016 Jaguar XF roomier and more usable, which is "not easy to accept for a designer who likes to put more shape" into the design. The most distinctive styling change is the car's profile, with its new character line running from the front fender to the rear.
Though the 2016 Jaguar XF is bigger and more family-friendly, it retains its sporty coupe-like profile, Callum says. The new shoulder-line, under a six-window daylight opening, serves as the car's biggest visual change. Callum says that adding the window also allows for an increased "perception of roominess" from back-seat passengers. Though the Jaguar grille is familiar, it has been pushed forward, and in back, the big kick-up at the taillights is said to help improve aerodynamics "tremendously." Twin exhaust pipes have been moved closer together for both thermal and aerodynamic efficiency. Wheel choices range from 18 to 20 inches. Callum says 21-inch wheels may come later.

The interior maintains the familiar Riva motorboat-inspired "loop" that "sweeps the cabin around you," Callum says. The selectable ambient mood lighting has been improved, he says, "but don't choose orange. Blue is my favorite."

Available safety equipment includes blind-spot, closing-vehicle, and rear cross-traffic warnings; lane-keeping assist; a laser-based color head-up display; adaptive cruise; pre-collision braking; and a Driver Drowsiness Monitor that warns the driver if he or she appears to be too tired to safely continue driving. European models will also offer traffic sign recognition that links to an automatic speed limiter, but it's still unknown whether those features will be offered in the U.S. A self-park system can reverse the car into both parallel and perpendicular spaces.

For manufacturing efficiency and simplicity reasons, Jaguar could not wait to get the XF on the iQ platform. It could afford to be more patient about the exterior design.

"This wasn't the time to reinvent the look of Jaguar," Callum says. "The world is still learning what Jaguar is about."

The 2016 Jaguar XF goes on sale in the U.S. late this fall.