Jaguar XF diesel

By Tim Saunders

 

My family and I watched part of the marathon six-hour Djokovic and Nadal tennis match on the television.

“So what,” you might say. Ah, but we were parked in a flash Jaguar XF three-litre diesel at the time. This was only possible, I admit, after my adorable 11-month old daughter Harriett - perhaps a future Vicki Butler-Henderson - helped her dense father operate the touchscreen TV in the centre of the dash. After she got bored and turned her hand to steering and grabbing the leather stitched dashboard, my wife Caroline and I had a small chance of willing Nadal to win before Harriett got bored. Sadly our chanting didn’t help him. 

You can see why the XF is so popular among chauffeurs. For starters the interior is packed with luxuries such as electrically operated heated and cooled front seats. Then the Freeview TV, with remarkable reception incidentally, provides hours of entertainment for the driver as he keeps the engine running for those VIP passengers. It’s no surprise that there are 18 Jaguars including a three-litre XF diesel in the Ministerial Car Pool. Apparently Ministers have turned their backs on Japanese cars and are now demanding Birmingham-built Jags instead. Very patriotic chaps.

Television isn’t the only reason to savour the XF, though. The suave and sophisticated luxury limousine can reach 60mph from standstill in just 5.9 seconds and has a top speed of 155mph (limited) all smoothly delivered through an eight-speed auto. It is equipped with paddle shifts for those who enjoy the experience of a manual. Diesel technology has certainly improved. Last week I drove the brash Mitsubishi Lancer Evo with its permanent sense of urgency. In comparison the gentlemanly Jag is a much more refined and debonair character yet still delivering very similar performance. (The XF is just under a second slower in the 0 to 60 stakes and yet delivers 44mpg compared to 18 to 23 in the Evo). Where the Evo, more like a rough and ready Cockney geezer, had a particularly hard ride, the aristocratic Cat is much smoother. And there’s not an imposing roar from the exhaust either, more a slight purr. Soundproofing is exemplary.

The test takes place during some pretty severe cold spells and the quick clear windscreens are effective. 

As is often the way these days the standard ignition has been replaced with a simple start/stop button on the centre console. Initially a little noise can be heard from the engine but overall it is the quietest diesel I have had the privilege of driving. When the engine starts the air vents automatically lift and open, making the vehicle feel very futuristic. Additionally a sophisticated dial that replaces the traditional gearstick rises from the console. It is simply a matter of selecting your chosen mode and then depressing the handbrake switch to commence your journey.

Although it’s hard to criticise the XF there are a few niggling irritations. Look at the steering wheel and the Jaguar image seems slightly comical and out of character, in my opinion. The traditional leaping Jaguar, which appears on the touchscreen and the boot, would be far more appropriate I feel. When reversing the high pitch warning sound emitted is a little harsh for comfort although those hard of hearing might find it useful… Perhaps this can be turned down but I have been unable to figure this out and neither could my daughter. 

Fitted with cruise control the XF also has a sophisticated vehicle sensor that generally keeps the XF at a safe distance behind the car in front. This technology however, isn’t infallible, requiring the driver to intervene when a vehicle pulls out in front, for instance. 

Windscreen washers don’t usually interest me but on the Jag they have been mounted on the actual windscreen wipers rather than the bonnet as is usually the way. 

Externally this is a strikingly attractive car with its distinctive front grille and low front spoiler. The reasonably sized boot easily accommodates my daughter’s pushchair. 

Helpfully when in the middle lane of the motorway the powerfolding wing mirrors incorporate a flashing two car symbol that actually informs the driver when a car appears in their blind spot. 

Music lovers are sure to appreciate the crystal clear 1200W 17 speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system. Tunes that you thought you knew well suddenly seem to gain additional instruments and greater clarity.

Parkers, the car experts, says: “Years of criticism for being too ‘traditional’ and flagging sales prompted Jaguar to take a radical step when replacing the S-Type. The XF has hints of previous Jaguars in details of its design, but looks and feels every inch a modern, upmarket saloon. The interior is wonderfully stylish and despite actually containing more wood than any previous Jaguar, it’s combined with aluminium to give it a contemporary appearance. It’s amazingly comfortable too but also good to drive with very little body roll and responsive steering.”

It strikes me though that the driver and front passenger have all the luxury with the television and heated and cooled electrically operated front seats. 

Interestingly every new ministerial car bought since the 2010 general election has been a Jaguar manufactured at Castle Bromwich, the Government has revealed.

 

Jaguar XF diesel tested £49,950

 

New price range:

£30,820 - £51,950

 

Used price range:

£14,291 - £31,752

 

Economy: 44mpg (combined)

Top speed: 155mph (limited)

Road tax: £269 for 12 months

Power: 275bhp

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