There are car makers which incorporate a unique panache in their cars, endow them with driving characteristics and a personality which is often imitated, but never equaled. Such a brand is Jaguar. Its cars perform with an uncanny grace, which is very much their own. We experienced this again when we sat behind the wheel of their latest XF, enjoying the smooth power of the new Ingenium diesel engine, which embodies state of the art technology, achieving top of class power and economy. Just read on ...
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Stepping into the car one is instantly seduced by the fluent and noble design of the cabin, the layout of the dashboard and centre console. It is indeed uniquely Jaguar, and follows of course the design rules of the house.
Let's not forget that this design trend with two big round clocks in front of the driver, a large centre console with a centrally placed array of telltale instruments with eventually ventilation orifices and/or a reading lamp with sliding table, was already introduced by Jaguar in the late fifties with the Mark II, even more with the Mark II Type S and the Mark Ten, subsequently followed by the iconic XJ series.
The whole industry took the layout over in one form or another, and it was Jaguar which established the basic proportions and layout of what a nice cabin and dashboard should look like. The fact that it is now common throughout the whole industry, makes of course this layout more familiar and stand out somewhat less, but it still remains unique.
We were delighted to find the circular selector knob again on the centre console, for choosing the gearchange/drive mode, such a logical solution, which is intuitive in its use, and is also found on the Range Rovers.
The electronic commands, driving modes, infotainment and car dynamics set up buttons on the touch screen are indeed intuitive and self explaining, which makes you feel soon very well at home in this car.
Audio entertainment is also of the highest order, thanks to the excellent Meridian sound system, available as an option. It has 380 watts, is a delight to listen to... It has not less than 11 speakers and a 12 channel amplifier(!)
Hooking up your phone and streaming via Bluetooth is a breeze.
Finding the right seating position is also easy thanks to the wide adjustment ranges of both seats and steering wheel, and soon you are ready to take the road.
State of the art performance, smoothness and handling
Engine startup is smooth, and indeed the new Ingenium engine shows excellent manners. Our "Portfolio" equipment XF came with the 180 HP /132 kW version of this completely new engine, which is all aluminum and 20 kg lighter than its predecessor. The four cylinder1999 cc unit is vibrationless and only a very subdued engine note is heard throughout the rev range. Torque is of course plentiful with 430 Nm between 1750 and 2500 rpm. One can also expect state of the art economy, and indeed, this Ingenium engine raises up to the occasion with an average EC consumption of 4,3 liters/100 km, witch in practice boiled down to a figure between 5 and 6 liters. One should never forget that we drive here a 1.595 kg high performance car with an automatic transmission(!). CO2 emissions are quite reasonable in this engine version with 114 g CO2 per km.
The XF is quite dynamic with this Ingenium engine, and will accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in merely 8,1 seconds, and hurtle further to a top speed of 229 km/h.
One can also choose its driving/dynamic mode, via three knobs on the central console. In the sporting setting, things really get going, and the engine is kept in higher rev ranges than in normal or economy mode.
There is also some optical enhancement built in for this sporting driving mode, with the speed and rev counter dials lighting up red...
One word of praise is certainly fitting for the truly excellent 8 speed automatic. It is silky smooth, and gives progress in this Jaguar a truly feline character. No shocks or jerks to be felt at very slow speeds, behaving rather like a crawling animal, spying on its prey. At the same time ready to leap forward in a split second.
Just floor the throttle and things are really happing with this very alert box. When you are in a more sedate mood and press the throttle gradually deeper, picking up speed is suave with truly imperceptible gear changes. Together with the excellent engine, this really defines the car as a very refined performance machine.
Right at the first bend one also feels that this car corners like a predator. Indeed, the XF sports very advanced "adaptative dynamics". Be astonished with us: this system analyses body, suspension and steering movements not less than 500 times per second(!)
It registers faithfully the way you steer, brake or accelerate, adjusts suspension and damper settings accordingly. Power steering is electrical, and this makes it adaptative to driven speed and enables both lane and parking assist functions. As said, one can select eco, comfort or dynamic driving modes, and damper as well as engine response is then set accordingly, as well as the gear change patterns.
On winter roads, it is good to know that this XF comes with a so-called "All Surface Control Progress system". (See photo above). With this system engaged, you select any speed up to 30 km/h via the cruise control. The ASPC function will choose the right power distribution to keep the chosen speed on mud, sleet, snow or slippery wet roads.
To improve the handling, there is still much more, like torque vectoring for instance, where the inner corner wheels are braked individually to improve agility when taking bends "at speed".
With all this comes also Dynamic Stability Control, it controls engine torque and also brakes wheels individually to limit over- or under steer. Last but not least there is Engine Drag Control or EDC which prevents locking the (rear) wheels when braking heavily on the engine on slippery surfaces.
On the passive safety front, it is good to know that the XF has achieved a Euro NCAP five-star safety rating...
Practical and economical…
It is good to know that the XF has segment-leading rear seat space and luggage compartment volume (540 litre). Besides, all Ingenium diesels - including AWD - benefit from 21,000 mile/ 24 month service intervals. Total cost of ownership is also improved with very high residual values, combined with low overall service costs.
A Jaguar which has many good qualities, besides its excellent looks and panache. It is fast, frugal, smooth, reliable, and combines this with excellent comfort, roominess, comfort and safety. What are you waiting for to take this cat for a spin? It is one of the better things to do into this new year!
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Photographers notes: we took the photos with our new prize, the Canon G9 X. We liked its easy to handle exposure compensation, the simple commands, the very logical disposition of knobs and handles. As you can see, photos are crisp and have an excellent definition. Color balance is also excellent, also in shadowy areas. Soon we will bring a full test report of this camera...