The Jaguar XF is a great motor car in almost every aspect. Its smart suited, looks cool and appeals to a modern audience while not scaring away the mature customer who appreciates a luxury four seater saloon. Recently, I had an incredible amount of fun with the XF-R that’s fitted with the wailing and burbling 5.0 V8 supercharged power station and before that found the XF 2.2 diesel Sportbrake a practical estate almost as enjoyable. The latest model to try was the XF R-Sport diesel in 2.2 163Ps form which is a model that will satisfy the family man or the fleet driver which comes in at £33.995.
Jaguar has obviously kept the fixtures and fittings down to a reasonable level on a cost basis but it does not feel basic or penny pinched. The usual recipe of an effective dual zone climate system, cruise control, the usual multimedia inputs and electric seat adjustments still feature on the standard list though the car did come with a sprinkling of optional extras such as adaptive Xenon lighting and an impressive “Adaptive Cruise Control” or ADC that operates a radar system to react to the traffic ahead – its an option to consider as it works rather well out on the motorway.
From an external walk round aspect, the sporting cache of the name is a little odd, for sure there is a great looking R-Sport front bumper and discrete badging to the wing air vents but those 17” alloys with standard profile tyres almost look too small within the wheel arches. The gloss black effect front grille works brilliantly with the white paintwork and has a slightly intimidating effect in the rear view mirror as it creeps towards you –a compliment that was paid by a colleague I happened to be following along the M25 recently.
Inside the car, the suede roof lining looks very classy and upon opening the door your nostrils are treated to a smell that reminds you of a premium car. Being a model that’s really aimed for fleet or the affordable customer, there are one or two pointers that reflect the price. Its seat trim for example, is part suede cloth but the bolsters are most certainly vinyl, but at least it looks fairly convincing to the eye. The same applies to the roll top on the dashboard and the doors, but as mentioned, this doesn’t really take the premium feel away from the class of car. As with any other current Jaguar, the build quality is very good overall – only one or two minor switches feel out of class and awkwardly sited.
The optional sunroof brought a little extra light in to the car, which is a good thing as the dark trim and carpet gives a slight feeling of gloominess. Sadly, it also robs the car of headroom and I found myself adjusting the seat lower than I normally would, but the driving position is very good and commanding. Passenger space fairs very well in the front but rear occupants who are longer in the leg might find the available space a bit tight – the rear seat is very well padded and superbly comfortable. A generous glove-box, centre console box and trays, front seat map netting and all round door pockets should cater for the families loose odds and ends – but curiously, there’s no pocket for sunglasses like you would find on most of its rivals.
Firing up the 2.2 in-line four brings a little clatter to the ears especially when cold and peering under the bonnet, the engine almost seems a little lost in the space provided and there are too many exposed wiring connectors , fuel pipe work and cable ties on view for a premium sector car – it looks a bit messy and unfinished. With 163Ps available the R-Sport performs reasonably well, expect the sprint to 60 coming up in a whisker under 10 seconds and a top out of 130mph – where allowed of course. Refinement in the cabin is typically Jaguar XF – so far as the ride is placid, wind noise is well suppressed and mechanical thrum is acceptable.
Its only when you make a run for it or drive the car via the steering wheel paddles with a heavy boot that the XF R-Sport makes a bit of racket but at least the in gear performance is impressive. There’s plenty of torque available (400nm) for mid range punch without the need for kick-down and the eight speed auto-box has a very high pair of top two ratios making motorway cruising almost blissfully serene. Peel away from the tarmac onto the B roads and again, the XF is an enjoyable car thanks to immense grip, communicative steering and very strong brakes. Body roll is well controlled and despite the wheel profile, quick and sudden steering actions bring not even so much as a chirp from the tyres – it’s a car that inspires confidence and brings a smile to the driver.
Around the town the XF rides incredibly well with only deep ruts making their presence known in the cabin and gearchanges are only noticeable by ear and the gentle twitch of the rev counter. The only reservation I have with the drive of the car is the slightly ponderous sensation from the transmission. Go for a sudden attack and the car almost pauses for a moment as it decides which ratio to select before lunging forward in a spirited manner, it’s not a dangerous trait but a curious one that’s slightly annoying when it happens. But overall, the XF R-Sport is a fine machine that brings a little touch of sportiness to the lower ranks and not out of touch on price either, but engine refinement and its Co2 rating could be a little better.
OUR RATING: 8/10
THE HUMBLE OPINION
Jaguar bring a little touch of exclusivity to the lesser ranks of XF owners such as fleet or family users. Though not as sporting as you might imagine, it still adds a dash of cache to what would otherwise be an entry level model. Despite some luxury touches missing, the XF remains a well-engineered and good looking car thats great to drive and has a build integrity thats good enough to go toe to toe with Ze Germans.
Tidy handling, supple ride and able through the curves, the XF rewards the driver with good road manners, class distinction and good economy when cruising the motorways. It needs a little extra sound deadening and the gearbox likes a moment to weigh up its options now and then but those issues aside, there’s not many sticks to hit it with – the XF is still a fine motor car which is east to own, drive and is practical too thanks to its large boot. Owners report them to be reliable too!
Are you sure you want that 5 series?
Points of Commendation: Handsome looks – Affordable price – Great chassis – Decent performance for a 2.2D – Still has enough equipment to feel special – Strong brakes – Decent sized boot – Feels thoroughly engineered – Well made – Cool Britannia image – Motorway refinement is amongst the very best.
Reservations: Noisy engine when hurried – Ponderous automatic gearbox – Rear leg room a little restricted – Optional sunroof robs headroom – Underbonnet view looks messy – Rearward visibility is poor – Co2 is slightly adrift from main rivals.
The Main Stats
Jaguar XF 2.2D R-Sport
PRICE: £33.995 (£38.483 as tested)
Produced by: Jaguar-Land Rover Group Castle Bromwich
Engine: 2.2 in-line 16v four cylinder turbo-diesel
Gearbox: 8 speed ZF with Jaguar Drive Control
Power / Torque: 163Ps / 400Nm
Performance: 0-60 9.8 seconds Max – 130mph
Economy: Combined 57.7mpg (45mpg on test)
Steering: Hydraulic powered rack and pinion
Brakes: Vented discs with EBD/ABS & Brake assist
For more information on the Jaguar XF CLICK HERE