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Jaguar XF 2011 Review

GRAND touring in luxury has just become more affordable. Jaguar this month releases its updated XF saloon range with its first four-cylinder model; an entry level diesel which is the cheapest XF yet, will cost just $1200 in luxury car tax, has huge service intervals and is Jaguar's most frugal car ever.

Jaguar Australia brand manager Kevin Goult says they tried hard to come in under the $75,000 luxury car tax threshold for vehicles with fuel economy under 7L/100km.

"But we also wanted to put a lot of kit in it, so in the end you only pay about $1200 in luxury tax," he says.

The 2.2-litre diesel model is set to be the big seller in the range comprised of two V6 diesels, a V6 petrol and two V8 petrol models, one of which is supercharged. Goult says he believes the new diesel will attract more women to the brand which already has a respectable 40 per cent female customers.

"Although, women represent about 60 per cent when it comes to the decision-making," he says. "This car allows us to appeal to a much wider demographic."

However, he's not concerned about Jaguar losing some of its exclusivity by being more affordable.

"We will just have a bigger membership of an exclusive club," he says.

VALUE

Prices start at $78,900 (plus on-road costs) for the 2.2-litre diesel Luxury model, making it the cheapest XF yet. The Premium Luxury ($86,100) model adds full leather upholstery not just an alcantara insert, door mood lighting, different style wheels, dark rosewood veneer trim and satnav with 30GB hard drive. However, the base model is being made available with satnav ($2495) at the nationwide driveaway price of $84,990 at launch.

These prices undercut the trio of German competitors (5 Series, E Class and A6). It even offers a viable alternative for people wanting to step up from a BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C Class and Audi A4. However, the big value proposition is in the extra kit these cars come with as standard that are extras in the others such as Bluetooth with audio streaming, HID lights, 30GB hard drive audio system and satnav.
Cost of ownership is also very attractive with service intervals every 26,00km for the diesels, and 24,000km for petrol models.

Prices for the other XF models have changed relevant to a shift in specification levels. For example the 3.0L V6 diesel Luxury has been down-specced to the same level as the 2.2L diesel Luxury with a $4000 price drop, while other models have increased specification and price rises starting from $700.

DESIGN

Nike may want its swoosh back. Jaguar has stolen it for its signature daytime LED running light display around the headlights. They call it a J Blade design and it is the most significant and obvious exterior styling change.

The new headlight shape requires a different line for the bonnet which also has a more aerodynamic design for less wind noise and more effective windscreen wiper operation. Out back there are LED taillights and on the side is a larger triangular vent.

There has been more tweaking inside, including the loss of the touch-sensitive glovebox button they made so much of when the XF was released. It's now a conventional button. Jaguar Australia product manager Andrew Chapman says the conventional button is "easier to find in the dark".

Other interior tweaks are more comfortable seats, a colour info touch screen with more buttons underneath for easier navigation and full-colour instruments. It didn't actually need any more design tweaks inside or out as it was already a far more exciting offering than any of its bland German competitors. Now it's just that little bit bolder and classier at the same time.

TECHNOLOGY

Apart from the new entry-level diesel, the biggest technological update is the eight-speed auto in the diesel models. It's made by ZF, but electronically programmed by Jaguar for optimum performance and integration with the automatic stop-start function which helps the little 2.2-litre turbo diesel achieve fuel economy of 5.4 litres per kilometre. That's Jaguar's most frugal car yet.

The gearbox has a clever system that drops out of drive when the car is stationary plus a Tandem Solenoid Starter for intelligent" stop/start that allows quicker re-starts in stop-start traffic and can refire the engine before the stop cycle is complete if needed.

Another clever transmission function is Jaguar Easy Off which engages park and turns off the engine when the car has stopped and the driver releases the seatbelt. You still have to manually activate the electronic park brake.

The 2.2-litre diesel is the third-generation version of the powerplant used before in the Freelander, but turned from east-west to north-south in the engine bay. It's a quiet and smooth engine that rivals not just the BMW 520d, but the 530d for manners, if not outright output. It produces just 140kW of power, but a very healthy 450Nm of torque and idles along at just 1800 revs at highway speeds. There are no changes to the other engines.

Technology in the cabin has been improved with the easier-to read colour touch info screen, audio streaming added to the Bluetooth function and 30Gb hard-drive Bowers & Wilkins audio system that has been beefed up from 440 watts to 1200 watts.

SAFETY

The new XF has the same four-star safety rating as its predecessor. There are no plans to have it re-tested as the basic chassis and body is unchanged. Safety features include ABS, traction control, stability control, electronic brake force distribution and six airbags including full-length curtain airbags.

DRIVING

Jaguar is making no bones about the impact of the 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel. In fact, the national launch in northern NSW this week was all about the new diesel with no other models available for test. In a spirited 300+km gallop through the bumpy and winding roads of the border ranges, the little diesel never wanted for power, yet returned acceptable economy figures of 7L/100km.

At idle, the engine purrs with only a slight diesel rattle and with the doors shut, it's almost imperceptible. Give it some revs and unless you look at the low revs on the tacho, you wouldn't know it was a diesel. It leaps off the line like a "leaper" should with those impressive 450Nm of twisting torque, yet is also wants to rev without a raucous noise or grainy vibration.

The new eight-speed auto box is a delight with smart, seamless changes that never leave the engine stranded. Sport mode on the transmission further sharpens the deal with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifts keeping the show on the move.

The lightweight diesel engine doesn't affect steering or handling and the compliant suspension takes the ugliest potholes in its stride without steering kickback or a sidestep.

That aerodynamic bonnet must be doing the trick, because there is almost no wind noise. However, that serves to highlight the tyre noise, the wheelarch noise from loose stones and a slight buzz in the dashboard of our test car.

The 2.2L diesels come with 17-inch wheels but all the test cars had 18-inch wheels with Pirelli 40 per cent profile tyres. Still, ride was quite compliant, so the 17s would probably be even plusher. The stop/start function is one of the smoothest and quickest I've experienced, but if you don't like it, you can switch it off. It defaults to "on" each time you get in the car.

VERDICT

XF is a big deal for us, says Goult. And the 2.2 diesel is the best deal in the pack with the ability to attract a whole new audience with its lusty and frugal engine, value package and classy styling.

JAGUAR XF 2.2L DIESEL

Prices: $78,900 (Luxury 2.2 diesel), $86,100 (Premium Luxury 2.2 diesel), $84,990 (driveaway Luxury 2.2 white or black)
Warranty: 3 year/100,000 km
Service: 26,000km (diesel), 24,000km (petrol)
Safety: 4-star NCAP, 6 airbags, ABS, traction control, stability control
Engine: 5.4L litre, 4-cylinder turbo diesel, 140kW/450Nm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, RWD
Thirst: 5.4 l/100km
CO2: 149g/km
Dimensions: 4961mm (L);1877mm (W);1460mm (H);2909mm(WB)

Other XF prices

3.0 V6 petrol Luxury $89,900, Premium Luxury $97,100
V6 diesel Luxury $103,500, Premium Luxury $112,500
XF-S diesel V6S $125,100, Portfolio $142,100
V8 petrol Luxury $129,600, Portfolio $146,600
XF-R V8 supercharged petrol $210,900

Pricing Guides

$32,615
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$18,150
Highest Price
$47,080

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
2.2D Luxury 2.2L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $20,680 – 26,180 2011 Jaguar XF 2011 2.2D Luxury Pricing and Specs
2.2D Premium Luxury 2.2L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $20,350 – 25,740 2011 Jaguar XF 2011 2.2D Premium Luxury Pricing and Specs
3.0 V6 75th Anniversary 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $19,250 – 24,420 2011 Jaguar XF 2011 3.0 V6 75th Anniversary Pricing and Specs
3.0 V6 Diesel S Luxury 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $20,020 – 25,300 2011 Jaguar XF 2011 3.0 V6 Diesel S Luxury Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$20,350

Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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