2021 Jaguar XF Review: Small Things Made Big

When the wraps came off the Jaguar XF in 2007, it was like the British luxury brand took its first step into the modern world. The muscular exterior shielded a cabin bathed in cool blue ambient light, with metal breaking up the seas of hide, and wood taking its rightful place as an accent. A rotary dial rose from the console and the start-stop button pulsed with red light. If the S-Type was Queen Elizabeth, the XF was Prince Harry.

That aggressive, purposeful body only got better with the XF’s second generation, but the interior lost the plot. Novel features grew stale and brightwork gave way to uninteresting piano black trim, untextured plastic buttons, and dull shapes. Wood became an afterthought as a minimalist, un-English vibe took hold. The second-gen XF has never been a bad car, but it’s spent years as an uninteresting one. The refreshed 2021 Jaguar XF reverses the trend, drawing on what made the original a breath of fresh air while thoroughly updating aging technology and retaining that exterior.

Quick Stats2021 Jaguar XF P300 SE R-Dynamic AWD
Engine:Turbocharged 2.0-liter I4
Output:296 Horsepower / 295 Pound-Feet
0-60:5.8 Seconds
Base Price:$43,995 + $1,150 Destination
As-Tested:$62,295

Gallery: 2021 Jaguar XF: Review

2021 Jaguar XF Exterior

Design

⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ 9/10

  • Exterior Color: Hakuba Silver
  • Interior Color: Ebony/Ebony
  • Wheel Size: 20-inch

If you liked the exterior that Sir Ian Callum penned way back in 2015, you’ll be a-okay with the 2021 XF. This is a classic case of freshening rather than changing wholesale, with small updates at the front and back. Revised headlights draw inspiration from the I-Pace electric crossover, while the intake below the carryover grille wears a teeny, tiny spoiler that looks delicate enough to have come from Jag’s Formula E car. In back, designers simplified the bumper by hiding the exhausts and then added an I-Pace–inspired taillight signature while retaining the shape of the housing.

Slot yourself behind the wheel, though, and you’ll immediately see where Jaguar invested its precious pounds. I’d suggest, entirely without evidence, that the XF’s revised cabin is a big reason Jaguar dealers can’t keep this car in stock (or it could just be supplier woes). It once again feels like British luxury.

The dash upper wears leather upholstery with a trendy French stitch contrast, as before. But below it, designers stretched the slats of the vents the width of the cabin – the actual vents themselves are the same size but tying together the driver and passenger side of the car gives the impression of width while squashing up the huge trim piece that previously divided the upper and lower sections of the dash. Material quality is impressive throughout the cabin, with rich leather, soft-touch plastics, and reassuring fitment.

A curved 11.4-inch display spans the center stack, crowning a pair of climate control knobs that sandwich touch-capacitive buttons. The center console ditches piano black for metallic-looking plastic that feels far richer, while Jaguar Land Rover’s corporate electric gear lever lives at the center of the console. That pulsing stop-start button remains, though. The seat uppers, meanwhile, wear handsome hexagonal stitching on higher-end trims that represent a small splash of the modern world.

Subtle details are what set luxury vehicles apart, though, and Jaguar took just the right approach, reminding owners of its heritage. The “Est 1935, JAGUAR, Coventry” decal below the touchscreen and on little tags attached to the leather seats, along with the Leaper logos embossed in the headrests, set this Anglophile’s heart aflutter. There’s no shortage of automakers with rich histories, but it seems like precious few so willingly lean into it. Jaguar does, hitting just the right tone with this small reminder of its legacy.

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