What is it about a Jaguar? People seem to think you’ve hit it big when you arrive in a Jaguar. There’s no drama in a Mercedes E-Class, heaven knows nobody knows the difference between the Audi A6 and a box of kleenex, but arrive in this Jaguar, and people stop and stare. Little do they know this is the baby Jag!
Ironically, very few people actually had any idea it was a Jaguar, but once they found out, they had many reasons why they then knew it was one. It’s a beautiful vehicle, and nobody can say otherwise. There’s sweet little to fault about the XF exterior, especially the updated version on test here. I was at the launch of the 2.2diesel in 2011, and thoroughly enjoyed the engine over long distance, but what would it be like in town?
In a sad twist of fate, it’s the city driving that has brought a love-hate relationship with the 2.2diesel. A few weeks back I drove the Range Rover Evoque diesel, which uses the same 2.2diesel engine, as Jaguar shares this with the Land Rover/Range Rover group. In the Jag it puts out 140kW and 450NM at 2000RPM. In the Evoque it lacked low-end torque and suffered from too much turbo lag…well surprise, surprise it’s the same thing in the jag. Not even 2 less wheels to turn makes a difference, and it’s a bit of a let down in that respect. The problem is also the fantastic 8-speed ZF gearbox that joins the 2.2diesel. It hunts up and down, and is so keen to get to 8th gear to keep the economy down, that you end up in the dreaded “dead zone” with no turbo when you need it.
There’s paddles on the steering wheel and a Sport setting for to negate that but that puts a hole in economy, and requires more work. Jab at the throttle and the gearbox hunts down for gears, bringing up the revs for that “nothing…nothing…nothing…TURBO!”. It’s not ideal for city driving, even though the shifts are smooth as the walnut trim, and it’s terribly counter productive on economy. I couldn’t manage below 9l/100km and spent most of that in stop start traffic. Marius Roberts took the XF from Pretoria to Durban and back on one tank, averaging 4.5l/100km, so it can achieve excellent results, but in every-day traffic without the highway stints, it’s a lag. The Start-stop system, which shuts down the engine if you’re at a stand-still, also caused a few nervous moments as pulling into traffic, coupled with the turbo lag made for some pedal to the metal moments.
It’s a real pity, because otherwise it’s an absolute dream to drive. Everyone who got into it was impressed by the look, and I was surprised to hear “Oh yes now this is classy”, from a lot of younger folk. There’s a lot to be said for the baby Jag still living up to old-school Jag impressions of having a luxury interior. I cannot agree more, the interior is a unique and cultured place to be. It’s truly special, starting the car is an event, no chintzy chimes, graphics and needles hopping about, but rather a superbly crafted gearchange lever that lifts out of the console, with the air-vents that slowly turn over revealing the blowers. It’s like an opening ceremony every time you get in and go, and as cheesy as it sounds, it really brings about a sense of occasion. *fills pipe and puffs*
Compared to the German rivals, the Jag might not be the most technologically advanced, or the latest interior, but hand stitched leather, real walnut and actual steel makes the difference. There are very few options, but in the Premium spec I had, it featured rear parking camera, Bi-Xenon headlamps, keyless entry, electronic and heated seats, premium sound (which was pretty damn good), as well as Bluetooth. Optional extras included adaptive headlights, blind-spot monitoring which was one of the more effective systems I’ve encountered, and navigation. The navigation and 7inch touch screen which houses all of the various interactions with the vehicle is one of the slower and more out-dated systems I’ve experienced. Definitely not my favourite as it had fast days and slow days, some days feeling like it was suffering from a severe hangover. Thankfully sound, climate and other quick function buttons are available on the dash so you don’t have to get frustrated by the system.
The rest is typically becoming of a Jaguar on the interior. Soft blue lighting, leather and even soft-touch lighting shows small touches that make a difference. The rear seats would comfortable fit 4, and the boot is big enough for the golf bags and bags to the airport.
As you would expect, the ride and handling is exemplary. There definitely isn’t a sporty focus, but rather a much more comfortable cossetted ride. The brakes were rather firm, and took some getting used to, but did inspire confidence. My test unit made some awkward noises from the suspension over bumps but I’d put that down to some heavy journo wear and tear. At speed on the highway the cabin is quiet as the diesel engine hums low down, with very little wind noise. Sadly, jam the throttle down to overtake and things can get a little noisy as the engine gets into higher revs and the overtaking process starts. It’s not terribly brisk, but as a long distance cruiser it is extremely comfortable.
Most surprisingly, is the price. Think Jag and the perception is that you’re in for millions. The XF in Premium Luxury spec (which is the highest spec available with the engine combination), with its LED daytime running lights and 2.2diesel engine will take you for R546 200. Pity about the engine, which causes more pain than gain in city driving, but if you’re putting more mileage on the clock doing long distances then it makes more sense. (This said, there is a larger V6 diesel available).
The Jag brings high levels of luxury and beauty to the segment, at a very competitive price. Where it falls short on the slightly disappointing engine, there are numerous other engine options available, and when it comes to presence, this Jag has tons of it.
Definitely worth a look if you’re hunting around for a premium executive saloon.