- Tech & Gadgets
- BRW. lounge
Published 11 April 2012 14:45, Updated 27 April 2012 16:05
Over the years, Jaguar has built a reputation for making cars that are luxurious and sometimes beautiful but as inspiring as an audit report to drive.
It’s almost as if they were sold with a white lawn bowls hat sitting on the back seat. In the meantime, the Germans have been building cars just as luxurious but heaps more fun to drive.
Having lost a lot of ground to its rivals, Jaguar is now in catch-up mode, producing the meaty and mean XKR-S to attract the performance drivers and the sublime XJ to recapture some of the luxury saloon segment.
In between is the four-door XF, which goes up against the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6 and BMW 5-Series.
And it demands attention. With a new diesel version and a lower price, it is a serious competitor in the luxury segment over $60,000.
It has won dozens of awards and certainly sits high on my list of best cars in terms of styling, value and economy.
The two big selling points for the XF 2.2D are its fuel economy and its price. The 2.2-litre, single turbo four-cylinder diesel engine, which is also used in the Range Rover Freelander 2 and the Range Rover Evoque, has official figures of 5.4l/100 kilometres (combined) and 149g/km of CO2.
A British team wanted to prove a point last November and drove from New York to Los Angeles averaging 4.49l/100km over the 4641km at an average speed of 85 km/h.
My best figure over 1100km was 5.8l/100km but that included city driving, some of it in thirsty sports mode.
Helping with the miserly nature of the Jag is stop-start technology that turns the engine off when you come to a complete stop and turns it on again when you lift your foot off the brake.
While the XF matches the 2 litre BMW and Audi for fuel economy the price of mid-$80,000 plus on-road costs makes it almost budget in terms of what Australians have to shell out for luxury vehicles – make that all vehicles.
The new XF has been given a sharper look that’s more attractive than an E-class Merc or a 5-series Beemer and the interior, with its mix of patterned aluminium, leather and wood grain, is far sexier than either as well. And it comes with better standard features than a similarly priced Audi A6.
The comfort of the leather seats was amply demonstrated by a friend who asked for a ride, then promptly fell asleep. That’s testament to how cossetted you feel in the cabin.
The optional reversing camera is the clearest and has the widest view of any car in its class and set into the leather dashboard is a 7-inch touch screen that controls the entertainment system, climate controls, navigation and Bluetooth phone. It also has a 30GB hard drive for storing your ripped music.
Performance is solid, smooth and torquey, though not awesome, pushing out 140kW of power and a meaty 450Nm of torque through the rear wheels. It eats up inclines and overtakes with ease while leaving everyone inside unperturbed.
The best of it is that it seems to slip effortlessly up to highway speeds in less time than you expect and the ride is so smooth you can find yourself in blue-light-in-the-rear-view territory without realising. Officially, the XF gets from zero to 100km/h in a little over 8 seconds and has a top speed of 225km/h.
The eight-speed gearbox is really nice, sliding up and down gears without fuss, and there are steering-wheel paddles for manual control when you feel you need to kick it back a couple of gears to take down a Great Wall.
The handling is solid and comforting over some of the tar on our secondary roads system with their ruts and potholes, though in sport mode through faster corners I wasn’t as much at ease.
Still, it is labelled XF 2.2D Luxury. It doesn’t carry a “sport” badge.
A sedate drive is not a bad thing, given the plethora of radar traps, speed cameras, mobile patrols, undercover patrols, speed zones that change three times every kilometre, red-light cameras, “safety” cameras, aerial patrols, point-to-point speed cameras and finger-wagging nannies.
On the minus side, it is slightly noisier both in terms of engine clatter and interior road noise than the Mercs and BMWs, although if you are used to driving something cheaper, it’s like a doctor’s waiting room.
But it does have a boot big enough for a few croquet mallets and a couple of Eskies now you’ve given up bowls.