The XF diesel has all the sporting attributes that you would expect from a Jaguar with the added bonus of a premium-luxury grade, says Jim McCauley
Jaguar has refreshed its XF compact saloon for 2012 giving it an all-new front end with slimmer headlight units and distinctive LED running light strips. It also gets a more upright grille and a lower bonnet line with an emphasised central power bulge. Other changes include front wing vents and larger rear-light units which now cut into the boot lid
But the biggest change for 2012 is the new diesel power unit, linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission. This also marks the introduction of a four-cylinder power unit to the range with the 2.2 litre engine sitting in-line and driving the rear wheels. Producing 190PS and 450Nm of torque, it is also fitted with start/stop technology to take economy to over 50mpg.
With keyless entry and starting, the now Jaguar trademark of the pulsing start button awaits the thumb press to spark it into life as the gear select disc rises from the central console. The engine purrs smoothly for a four-cylinder diesel and the car acknowledges its readiness to proceed as ‘Drive’ is selected.
With no shortage of ratios, the car builds smoothly to legal pace and for those in a hurry 60mph from rest can be achieved in eight seconds. Mid-range pace is excellent bearing in mind the size of the engine but while Jaguar claims that the car sets new standards in the suppression of road noise, there was a trace too much rear road noise at times intruding on the cabin ambience.
The eight-speed box maintains fluid pace on more challenging roads and renders resorting to the steering wheel paddles unnecessary for those who think they can better the changing patterns of the automatic. However, on dual carriageways, the pursuit of economy found the car undecided on its choice of the higher ratios and between 60 and 70mph it frequently exchanged 7th and 8th to the point where in some instances it became annoying. Time to settle its mind with the manual option.
That aside, this compact diesel maintains the expected Jaguar sporting attributes in its handling and overall pace, asserting its desirability as a viable option to the German badges that dominate this sector of the market.
The cabin offers excellent all-round room with the leather upholstery of the test vehicle adding to its quality appeal. The leather/wood trim mix along with the infusion of aluminium add dimension to the engineering attributes of the car, but some detailing still requires a second look — small instruments and the gap break between the dash unit and door cappings which interrupts the enveloping flow.
Overall, the Jaguar XF offers a fresh and realistic alternative to the German competition in a car that comes from a different tradition, but is none the lesser for that.
The styling refreshments add to its appeal as does the widening of the market with a diesel option. This helps it to deliver on economy with the official fuel consumption given as 52.3mpg on the combined cycle and a CO2 emissions of 149gms/km, putting it in Band G for annual car tax.
Equipment-wise, in this third-up Premium Luxury grade, the model lacks little at its £7,000 premium over the range-opening model. Safety features include six airbags, Cornering Brake Control, and Emergency Brake Assist, while the bonnet automatically rises on pedestrian contact to lessen the injury potential. Rear parking sensors with screen graphics are also standard.
A full leather interior has electrically adjusted and heated front seats with steering wheel inset controls for audio, cruise control and Bluetooth phone connectivity.
Dual-zone automatic climate control, electric steering column adjustment and mood lighting are just some of the other interior features which highlight the luxury appeal of the car.
The model tested is listed at £37,950 and with a four-star EuroNCAP award is covered by a three-year unlimited mileage warranty.
Jaguar XF 2.2D
Engine: 2.2 litre, 190PS @ 3,500rpm. 450 Nm torque @2000 rpm.
Drive: Eight-speed automatic transmission to rear wheels
Performance: 0-62mph (100km/h) in 8.5 seconds; max 142mph (227km/h)
Fuel on combined cycle: 52.3 mpg (5.41/100km)
CO2: 149gms/km; VELD Band F for annual car tax of £125
Trim: Premium Luxury
Price range: Starting at £37,950
Warranty: Three-years/unlimited mileage
Insurance: ABI (50) Group 40E
Euro NCAP: 4-Star
Available extras: Electric sunroof, £1,000; split/folding rear seats, £360; digital/analogue television £700