Germany’s Big Three automakers have been dominating the midsize luxury car market in Australia, and although Mercedes-Benz’s E-Class steal leads the way, Jaguar has cut into the market share significantly with its sleek and sporty XF model. In 2014, the XF outsold the Audi A6 by a wide margin, and its sales were right on par with BMW’s 5 Series. Let’s take a look at what makes the Jaguar XF such a worthy competitor to the E-Class and why it could close the sales gap even more in 2015.
Exterior and Styling
The XF has a whole new look for 2015. With an upright radiator grille, more muscular bonnet, and wrap-around LED headlights, It’s bolder and more distinct up front than the outgoing model. It’s not only visually pleasing from front to back but also more aerodynamic and lighter than its predecessor. The E-Class offers a bold look up front as well with it’s twin-bar radiator grille and prominent 3-pointed star symbol complemented by LED headlights that are larger than the XF’s. Overall, it has a more swooping design from front to back than the previous model.
Interior and Comfort
With standard Nappa or optional man-made ARTICO leather interior, high-gloss wood trim, and other quality materials, the E-Class has the highly refined interior you would expect from Mercedes-Benz. The Active Multicontour Seats up front allow you to adjust multiple independent air chambers in the seats for a greater level of comfort, and head and leg room is adequate in the front and back. When it comes to leg room, however, the XF has the E-Class beat. With a wheel base that’s 51 mm longer than the 2014 version, it now offers the most rear seat space in its class. It also features a much larger touchscreen (10.2″) than the E-Class. Like the Mercedes-Benz, it has high-quality leather seats and wood trim, and one Jaguar XF review described the interior as “fresher” than the E-Classes–and we agree.
Under the Bonnet
Both the E-Class and XF have petrol and diesel engine models ranging from 4 to 8 cylinders. The E-Class’s 4-cylinder petrol engine goes from 0-100 Km/hr only a second faster than its diesel model (7.4 seconds compared to 7.5), and the diesel model consumes 1.5 fewer litres per 100 Km (4.9 compared to 6.4). Its 6-cylinder petrol engine does the 0-100 dash in 5.3 seconds, while the 8-cylinder E63 covers that distance in a blistering 4.1 seconds. On the other side, the XF 4-cylinder petrol has a faster 0-100 Km/hr time of 7.0 seconds, but isn’t as efficient, burning 7.5 litres of petrol per 100 Km. However, the opposite is true for its diesel engine models (slower but more fuel efficient than the E-Class). Additionally, its V6 models are only 0.1 seconds slower than the E-Class 6 cylinders, but its V8 isn’t as fast as the E-Class E63 AMG S and is also much less fuel efficient.
On the Road
The E-Class offers responsive handling and smooth ride. Like the XF, it has a Speed Sensing Steering system which reduces the amount of swerving that can occur at higher speeds as well as the amount of turning required at lower speeds. Though its 7-speed transmission isn’t the most responsive you can find, the E-Class is still a pleasure to drive. Likewise, the XF’s steering is responsive and balanced. Its lighter body makes it more maneuverable than the previous model, and steering, throttle mapping, and suspension can all be adjusted to driver specifications.
At the high end, the XF’s V8 engine can’t quite match the speed and efficiency of the E-Class E63 AMG S, but this could have something to due with the fact the E63 is nearly $30,000 more expensive. At the lower price tags, the XF becomes a more intriguing proposition, as there’s not much of a gap in terms of engine power and efficiency or performance on the road, and you could argue that comfort and refinement are slightly better in the XF. Overall, these sedans are fairly evenly matched, so don’t be surprised if the XF’s sales cut into the E-Class’s market share even more in 2015.