Jaguar’s all-new XF goes up against the BMW 5 Series in this contest of executive and athletic abilities.
STORY JEREMY CHUA PHOTOS VERNON WONG ART DIRECTION SEAN LEE
THE phrase “take five” means taking it easy, but the Jaguar XF has no such plans, especially when challenging the BMW 5 Series, one of the strongest contenders in Singapore’s executive saloon segment.
Apart from its brand cachet, the 5 Series is also known for its performance and refinement.
The current model, which was recently updated, now also boasts ConnectedDrive, a suite of connectivity features that includes a useful concierge service, too.
Now, while the latest XF doesn’t offer a concierge “in” the dashboard, it appeals to potential buyers in other ways.
For starters, I find the XF more attractive than the 5 Series (528i). Its sleeker profile and sharper-looking tail-lights make the Jag stand out in company carparks.
Once I settled into the driver’s seat of the XF, I also find the cockpit to be sportier and more sophisticated than the 528i’s.
Upon starting up, the XF performs two neat tricks. It “opens” the air-con vents by rotating them into position, and makes the rotary gearshift lever rise from the centre console.
Meanwhile, the Jag’s lower roofline and main gauges, which are housed in individual binnacles, give the cockpit a more coupe-like feel.
However, the downside to this coupe-like environment is that anyone taller than 1.75m might find the headroom a tad low, and should watch his head when entering/exiting.
The more spacious 528i, on the other hand, easily caters to drivers of all shapes and sizes. It’s also better built – the cabin feels less plasticky, while the seats are cushier and the armrests softer.
When it comes to infotainment, the 528i’s iDrive system offers more functions and connections than the XF’s InControl Touch system. But the latter is more intuitive and provides a more user-friendly touchscreen, as opposed to the rotary dial in the BMW.
Executive saloons are expected to have roomy backseats, and in this regard, the 528i comes out ahead of the XF, thanks to the BMW’s superior packaging. It offers more legroom, even though its 2968mm wheelbase is only 8mm longer than the XF’s.
Jaguar’s “25t” 2-litre engine is less linear than the BMW’s “28i” 2-litre, which is also more revhappy.
It’s hard not to be swayed by the 528i’s performance, too. Although both cars are powered by turbocharged 2-litre engines, the Bimmer offers 245bhp and 350Nm, or 5bhp and 10Nm more than the XF.
More impressively, the 528i does the century sprint in 6.2 seconds, which is 0.8 of a second quicker than the XF.
On paper, it looks as if the BMW is the one that’s more fun to drive, but it’s the Jag that delivers more thrills on asphalt.
After tossing the XF around a few corners, I swear that it’s 100kg lighter than the 528i, when the Jag’s weight advantage is just 35kg. It moves like a big cat chasing its prey – purposeful and agile. At times, it feels like it’s dancing around the road bends.
The XF’s helm is also more delightful than the 528i’s. The steering’s more precise feel and greater feedback make it easier to position the Jag, too.
Although the 528i isn’t as nimble as the XF, it is more planted and delivers a quieter ride. It can hold its own through corners, but this saloon is more adept at expressway cruising, where it can pamper the harried executive behind its wheel.
The 528i’s more pliant suspension is better at dealing with tarmac imperfections and eliminating undulations before they reach the cabin, which is also better insulated against outside noise.
The Jaguar has made big strides in order to hunt down the 5 Series. Its sexier design, more dynamic character and competitive pricing ($16.8k less than the 528i at press time) are like sharp claws that have undoubtedly left their painful marks on the Bimmer.
But the 528i manages to escape its clutches with better build quality, a more spacious cabin and comfier ride. In this contest at least, it remains the executive saloon to beat
XF’s backseat isn’t as relaxing as the 528i’s more comfortable “executive lounge” (far right).
"The xf moves with purpose and agility, while the 528i is quieter and more planted".