BMW’s F10 535d has been one of Europe’s most popular executive diesel “saloons” since its inception in 2010. In fact, it may be the most popular diesel exec in Europe, thanks to its wide breadth of abilities. It’s more than fast enough, has a buttery smooth powertrain, is efficient, handles well and is superbly comfortable. It also looks great, has a wonderfully ergonomic interior and better in-cabin electronics than anything else in its class. But it’s getting old and its replacement is on the way.
In the F10’s old age, many competitors have started to catch up. Audi’s A6 is doing quite well, Mercedes-Benz has just debuted its new E Class and even Cadillac came out with a CTS that could compete. But none of those cars should frighten BMW as much as the brand-new Jaguar XF. And, because of which, Top Gear has gotten the two cars together to see which is better.
Jaguar has been on a roll lately, making cars that drive as fantastic as they look. In the past, Jags were always cars that needed excuses to be made for them. Sure, they looked fantastic but had cramped cabins and crummy infotainment systems. Yes, they handled well but their engines lacked the finesse, power and refinement that their German competitors had. So they were very good, but very flawed cars. Now, though, Jaguar seems to have been ironing out most of the bad wrinkles while keeping the good qualities we all loved.
For 2016, the Jaguar XF is much improved, offering a complete package, not just a pretty face. The XF now looks even better than it did before, albeit not much different, either. Just some minor tweaks here and there to freshen up the already fantastic design. But the interior has changed too, offering an ergonomic, sensible and comfortable cabin with back seats that can actually fit adult humans. The 5 Series has a larger rear cabin and is more accommodating back there, but the XF will have no problem fitting three adults back there, even if it would be a bit intimate. But the interior is much improved. However, Jaguar’s InControl Touch infotainment system is still a bit crap. There’s supposedly a new one coming to replace it, called InControl Touch Pro, which is said to be excellent, but for now the current XF system is, let’s say less than great.
In terms of power and performance, it’s a bit of a mixed bag between the two. The BMW 535d’s engine is wonderfully smooth and capable of revving far higher and faster than any diesel has the right to. However, the Jag’s 3.0 V6 diesel engine has sharper throttle response and more torque, making the car more throttle adjustable and even faster. Both are incredibly smooth, though, and both cars’ eight-speed ZF gearboxes are wonderfully calibrated. Jaguar has finally caught up to BMW in the transmission calibration department.
But it’s the handling where the Jaguar seems to separate itself from the 5 Series, according to Top Gear. In terms of both steering and handling, the XF is said to be the superior car to the 5 Series. Its steering feels better, is sharper and more accurate, while its suspension is both more supple and better planted. Thank Jaguar’s new Integral Link suspension setup, which has dramatically changed the handling characteristics of Jag’s new cars.
It’s interesting, because handling is typically where BMW would simply walk away from every other automaker, leaving them for dead. But, in this test, it’s the Jag that takes the handling crown. Admittedly, Jaguar has had nearly six years to benchmark the current 5 Series and tune its XF to be better. The current 5 Series is on its way out and you can be certain that the next one will be much improved. By then, Jaguar’s only real issue, its horrid infotainment system, will be remedied and it will be a complete package. So it’s going to be an exciting match up once the Jag is fixed and the new 5 Series is out. This test has only gotten us more excited for the next one.