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Jaguar XF 2012 review

EXPERT RATING
7

What is it about this breed of machine that holds such appeal? Jaguar - oft-maligned for poor reliability but endeared to many by its performance and charisma, the XF is the brand's entry-level model. 

It's Jaguar's best-selling model across the world, as the brand (and its Land Rover sibling) make sales hay while the sun shines, in China and India particularly. Not so in Australia, where the big cat took a 20 per cent cut in sales as the Green Oval went a similar percentage in the positive direction.

Value

As Jags go, it's a cut-price bargain - the XF Luxury 2.2 turbodiesel starts at $78,900, which also buys an eight-speed auto when the petrol cars only only get six speeds. 

The Jag - as you'd expect in the price bracket - has keyless entry and ignition, Bluetooth phone and sound system link, rain-sensing wipers, 17in alloy wheels, power-adjustable front seats, a USB-input for the touchscreen-controlled 10-speaker sound and DVD system, parking sensors both ends and a rear camera, automatic headlights, leather trim, dual-zone climate control, LED running lights and LED rear tail lights.

The centre and exterior mirrors are auto-dimming and the exterior mirrors have puddle lights and power-folding function so they are less chance of being removed by a passing truck.

Technology

The company says the little diesel XF is the most efficient Jag ever - it has 140kW and 450Nm (including 30Nm on overboost) on offer from the 2.2-litre double overhead cam 16-valve intercooled turbodiesel four-cylinder. 

Jaguar says the entry-level model returns 5.4l/100km (we averaged 9l/100km) and says it has driven more than 1300km on a tank. The engine has low-friction pistons and sits on active engine mounts to help reduce the vibration and improve cabin refinement, also aided by no shortage of noise insulation material, but you still know it's a diesel. 

Part of the frugal nature of the 2.2 comes from the fuel-saving stop-start system, which automatically shuts down the engine in just 300 milliseconds, which the company says can improve fuel economy and CO2 emissions by between five and seven percent.

The XF 2.2 gets the 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox, which claims complete gearshifts in 200 milliseconds - it's a smooth and quick unit but sometimes indecisive, perhaps being spoilt for a choice of ratios. 

Design

The XF is an elegant machine, sharper than its predecessor - the front headlights in particular have a cleaner look to them. Following the new look introduced by the XJ, the XF aimed to look a little more lithe and sporting than the big limo - "We have been able to evolve and enhance that performance character to make the XF the most visually dynamic car in its class," said Jag design director Ian Callum. 

The cabin is as you'd expect - there's leather galore and its a comfortable interior to dwell in - although perhaps not as roomy as you'd expect. The centre stack still has the rising gearshift knob and the rolling vents at start-up, and the touchscreen, clear instruments and a new digital speed readout. The boot is not overly deep but still offers 500 litres of cargo space with a space-saver spare tyre beneath the floor.

Safety

The NCAP four-star XF packs six airbags into the cabin - dual front, front-side and full-length curtain units - and has anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, the corner brake control system and a clever front bonnet that pops up to reduce pedestrian injuries; front seat occupants also get active head restraints and seatbelt pre-tensioners.

The emergency brake assist system offers the driver full braking force in a panic stop and also fires up the hazard lights to warn following drivers of an emergency stop - something not exclusive to Jaguar but a feature that should be on all cars.

Driving

Long-nosed and elegant, the XF has a hint of arrogant menace about it at standstill. There haven't been too many ugly Jags - perhaps the S-Type is the exception - and the XF is a handsome machine. 

What flies in the face of the styling is the chuggy noise coming from the sculpted snout when you hit the ignition button that pulses red. 

It's not a tractor noise but it's not as smooth-sounding as the big V6 drinking the same fuel. 

It still lays claim to an 8.5 second sprint to 100km/h and it feels as though that's not optimistic - part-throttle pressure is all that's required to slip quickly through the eight-speed auto's ratios and leave the traffic behind. 

The driver is well accommodated by the updated seating and has no shortage of things at the finger tips. The sound system produces a quality noise and teams with media devices through USB or Bluetooth, but on several occasions the system was silenced by an unknown issue.

Despite recognising the iPhone was integrated - for music and phone calls - and displaying as much on the screen, the XF refused to pass on the music or the person at the other end of the phone. Stop the car, switch it off, open door, lock it, wait, unlock it, re-start and - hey presto - noise a-plenty, but that didn't work the next time. Curious and as yet unanswered.

It was a disappointing footnote to an otherwise decent driving experience - the ride is not too firm yet it points into bends with purpose (although the steering could still do with a little more feel), and once accustomed to the power delivery and the automatic is a quick and frugal point to point car. The high rump makes sensors front and rear, as well as a reversing camera, required features.

Verdict

The thirst is low and the outputs considerable, but there's something about the four-cylinder diesel noise that offsets the sporting elegance of the XF.

Occupants are comfortable and well-catered for with equipment (when it doesn't go AWOL) and may not be bothered by the diesel engine noise, but anyone image-driven might prefer a quieter idle. That said, it's a $24,600 step up to the diesel V6 - what price a soundtrack?

Pricing Guides

$26,990
Based on 18 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$19,990
Highest Price
$30,732

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
2.0 Luxury 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $18,810 – 23,870 2012 Jaguar XF 2012 2.0 Luxury Pricing and Specs
2.0 Premium Luxury 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $20,680 – 26,180 2012 Jaguar XF 2012 2.0 Premium Luxury Pricing and Specs
2.2D Luxury 2.2L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $19,990 – 26,997 2012 Jaguar XF 2012 2.2D Luxury Pricing and Specs
2.2D Premium Luxury 2.2L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $27,990 – 29,990 2012 Jaguar XF 2012 2.2D Premium Luxury Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Stuart Martin
Contributing Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$19,990

Lowest price, based on 7 car listings in the last 6 months

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