Jaguar has long been famed for making cars that evoke a certain bit of drama and emotion. Being one of the most affordable new cars on Jaguar’s shelf, the XF has a tremendous responsibility resting on its shoulders. It has to be killer, while still being reasonably easy on the pocket.
When I first got in the Car, I was still coming to terms with the steering wheel being on the wrong side (It was my first time driving in Europe). Admittedly, I was a bit nervous. It’s always an exciting exercise, driving in a country where you’ve never driven before. Well, this road trip gave me an opportunity to drive in four countries where I hadn’t driven before, so it really was four times the excitement, combined with the brief confusion of finding myself in a mirrored world.
Our journey started from the Thuringian state in Central Germany through the Bavarian autobahns into Austria, and led to our destination of “Passo Del Stelvio” on the Italian and Swiss borders, on beautiful European roads right through the alps.
Jaguar XF Specifications
The car I drove had a 3 Liter V6 diesel engine with 240 horsepower, and a naught-to-hundred [0-100 kph] time of close to 7 seconds, and I know what you’re thinking. Not bad for a diesel!
The power is fed to an 8 speed automatic gearbox with the option to use the flappy paddle style manual mode, which works reasonably well when you’re up for some spirited driving.
There are two turbochargers which make sure you have plenty of power for most of the rev range. The top speed, even with climate control turned on was a respectable 242 kph (off camera it touched about 245). That’s hovering above the 150mph mark!
This is where the Jag wins. While the car performs brilliantly on the autobahns giving the German players a run for their money, it can really hold speed when the going gets twisty. On the Austrian highways, this car truly felt capable and planted.
Kicking this car into sports mode instantly makes everything ten percent better. Driving up to the Swiss border through Passo del Stelvio, the grip was astonishing.
Through the corners, the steering gives you an exceptional feel for the road and inspires confidence. The steering is extremely responsive and speed-dependent, which makes three point turns handy. On the beautiful Austrian roads, the car pulled off amazing speeds without a moment of doubt while steering through the twisties.
Generally speaking, the ride quality on the Jaguar XF is pleasant. It’s a comfortable car to drive and just as comfortable to be driven in. …That was my opinion right until the last leg of our journey anyway. While driving back, a certain part of the Autobahn had a speed limit of 80 kph, with some roadworks going on up ahead. The road was cemented and patchy, the surface wasn’t as even as regular tarmac,but the effect it had on the car was just too much. The whole car started vibrating and as the speed limit dropped further to 60 kph, even before the roadworks approached, the sheer noise in the car gradually became unbearable. As we went on, the noise became so severe I thought for sure a tyre had burst!
We had to stop hard shoulder along a patch with very heavy traffic and take a look at the tyres which all seemed fine. As the speed limit disappeared, the noise faded a bit until we finally made it to the loving “arms” of Tarmac, which made the noise go away, and confirmed my suspicion that this car really likes only just the best road surfaces.
And this was Germany; Makes you ponder if this car is any good in countries where roads aren’t otherwise as well-maintained as they are here.
The Jaguar xf, even in its diesel avatar, can be a Gas Guzzler. Of course, at full shout, the trip computer returned figures upwards of 10 liters/100 kms with the Climate control turned on. At 35 degrees degrees Celsius in one of the hottest Summers in Europe, leaving the aircon off was hardly a choice.
Oddly, though, The faster I drove though, the higher the fuel economy became! Of course beyond the 210kph mark, the l/100km figure started to rise again. The lowest number I saw for the whole 2500 odd kilometers was 5.2 l/100km on the Autobahns, driving between 140 and 150 Kph.
Kit & Accessories
There are things to adore about this car, and niggles that make you wonder if there was any thought put in at all. The controls on the steering wheel feel poorly made and shoddy at best, and you’d have to be a sound engineer to make the navigation work well with the music you’re playing from your phone.
Four days in the car, and I’m still not sure if pressing the “buttons” (which by the way, look like the wheels taken off of a second hand toy car), actually does something.
On the right side spoke, you get the cruise control option, the audio controls find themselves on the left spoke, and believe it or not, there’s no control to mute the song, or to even pause the the damn thing! If your volume balance isn’t setup properly between the navigation voice and the music (from your cellphone’s controls), chances are you’re inviting a bout of confusion at the next roundabout. (If you’re headed to Italy for instance, that bout of confusion might just lead you to France!)
If you forgive these little quirks, the navigation system is otherwise quite good and knew about almost all our locations, well, all but one. It succeeded brilliantly in taking us to our initial destinations in Austria, Italy and Switzerland, but failed to find an entire pincode in Innsbruck (also in Austria) on our way back. During a thunderstorm while on the high alpine road, the GPS unit lost signal for a few minutes but quickly regained itself with the cloud cover still hovering above.
Looks and style
See for yourself.
Every inch of this car is beautiful. The aggressive lines on the bonnet hint at a muscular entity under the hood. Admit it, The other cars in this segment don’t look as good.
The good: The Icing on the cake has to be the boost switch under the accelerator pedal for me. You know when you’re driving relaxed down the autobahn in the middle lane on top gear (which is a respectable “8”) and a sucker in an audi shoots past you in the left lane? There’s an easy (but bloody effective) way to get back your lead. Put your foot down, hard, and the pedal depresses into a button that tells the car “It’s ON!”. The whole car comes alive. you shift up a few gears, the engine speeds up and you’re catapulted with a massive smile on your face and the audi becomes a dust-like speck in your rear view mirror.
The bad: I’ll have you warned though, the process of picking up speed takes time between when you demand the power, and when you get it. Even though the two turbos take care of you on both sides of the rev range, time and again you find reminders that you’re in a diesel.
The ugly: I have a hard time not being pissed about the entertainment system. Unless I was riding it hard and uphill as I was doing in Stelvio, the engine sounded boring and unpleasant, as all diesels do. In Stelvio I maintain, it sounded alright. I’d even go ahead and say it sounded a bit dreamy, but the Pink Floyd music I had going on at the time may have contributed to that a bit.
At 50.000€, this car isn’t exactly cheap. Personally I guess I still hold the fact that it’s a diesel car against it somehow, the fact that you don’t have an orchestra at your disposal every time you’re in a tunnel is a point to wonder if you want to have a car that runs on devil juice in the first place.
It’s a special car by all means though, it’s poised, pretty, get’s attention and most of all, goes like a bat out of hell, if you can wait for the turbos to spool up.