Thursday, September 29, 2011

We drive the Jag-a-licious XF 2.2D: IOL Motoring

Rear three-quarter shot shows off the stunning lines.
Jaguar has been around for a long time now and, until a couple of years ago, it was starting to show. Its cars were lacking in many areas, notably in the ambition department - probably, one has to say, due to financial restraints under troubled Ford ownership.

But ever since Indian corporate giant Tata stepped in, the leaping cats has been clawing its way back up the food chain, doing what it was always meant to do - create beautiful, fast cars.

The XF was is a prime example; it offered something different, a Jaguar that was every bit as dynamic as it was modern. Even conservative South Africans are catching on and XF sales are steadily carving out a market share.

Road-ripping, supercharged V8 range-topping models are all very well, but what about sensible and efficient models? BMW has the 520d, Mercedes its E200 and Audi will soon be introducing an A6 2.0 TDI. Manufacturers face increasing pressure from environmentalists and political groupings such as the EU to introduce more efficient engines – which is why Jaguar has given us the XF 2.2D, the most economical Jaguar yet.

But it's not just the engine that's new. Dramatic design changes have brought the XF's styling into line with the XJ flagship model. It's more rounded from the front, giving it a more aggressive stance, with much slimmer, XJ-style, headlights incorporating LED daytime running lights arranged in a distinctive ‘J-Blade’ signature pattern.

New tail-light clusters, fully LED-lit, extend into the central portion of the boot lid, making the the XF - in my opinion, anyway - one of the finest-looking cars available today, especially in full XF-R trim. 

Slimmer, XJ-style, headlights incorporate
LED daytime running lights arranged in a
distinctive J-Blade signature pattern.
The cabin is uniquely welcoming, spacious and stylish, with dramatic ‘surprise and delight’ elements such as the JaguarDrive selector that rises from the centre console and air vents that rotate to their open position when the starter is pressed – and yes, the button still pulsates like a heartbeat. Jaguar has also sorted out some previous interface issues and the XF has a new touch screen and media interface system.

Our journey started at Lanseria airport, from where we were flown by helicopter to the magnificent Legends lodge and golf course in Limpopo, surrounded by perfect roads on which to try the XF's driving dynamics. The altitude, extremely high ambient temperatures - around 32 degrees in some places - and having the aircon on full blast all the time also gave us the opportunity to see whether the 140kW, 450Nm AJ-i4D 2.2 diesel engine has what it takes.

OK, the XF 2.2D is not the quickest car out there but then, it's not intended to be. Jaguar quotes average fuel consumption of 5.4 litres per 100km; we managed 6.8 under admittedly adverse conditions, not least thanks to a quicker-acting stop/start function.

The XF 2.2D gets from 0-100km/h in about 8.5 seconds and overtaking from 120km/h can be done with confidence. It's also blessed with a very smooth ZF eight-speed auto 'box that'll change down from top to fourth or even third without you feeling a thing.

Throw the Jag through some corners and you're in for some fun; the launch drive included a boulder-littered, twisty mountain pass on which the XF admirably retained its composure, whether going up or down. But it was the comfort of the ride that impressed me - smooth, quiet, and at high speeds the Jag digs its claws into the road and feels completely planted.


The XF 2.2 diesel is available in two trim levels, Luxury and Premium Luxury. Premium Luxury (R522 480) gets you keyless entry, a heated steering wheel and seats, front and rear parking sensors and 18" alloy rims as opposed to the R452 480 Luxury's 17" hoops.

The new XF looks fantastic, offers a comfortable ride with most of the luxuries one expects, and the 2.2-litre diesel derivative doesn't stand back from its rivals in any respect whatsoever.

In a word: Jag-a-licious

Source: IOL Motoring

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