Review: Locally assembled Jaguar XF 2.2 diesel - The new master of the executive luxury saloon segment?
Anjan Ravi, I'm a true-blooded petrolhead. Hope you enjoy our news stories, launch coverages, motorshow coverages and test drive reports.
Now if you're in the market looking for an executive luxury sedan, chances are that the BMW 520d, Audi A6 2.0 TDI and the Mercedes E 220 CDI would be heavily researched on in your internet browser. And with good reason as well as these three Germans have been ruling the roost for eternity.
Volvo tried to take a piece of the pie with their S80, but for obvious reasons haven't made the dent they hoped for. Jaguar brought their very desirable XF, but the fact that it was a fully imported car made for a very high price.
Now though, the Jaguar XF is being assembled in India. It even gets a more economical 2.2-liter diesel engine. So, a very desirable Jag with an economical diesel engine and a price that wouldn't have you auctioning your kidneys.... We had to take a look!
The Spoiler Alert:
Normally, you've to wait until the end to find out if I would recommend the car, or choose it over the competition or what the verdict is. Not so with this one.
Before I go in any deeper, let me tell you that it is this locally assembled Jaguar XF 2.2D I would buy if I were scouting for a set of wheels under 60 lakhs. I would not give the Germans a second glance, let alone the Swede. This Jag is utterly utterly brilliant, something that I knew before I took the key from Ceejay House, but something that grew to such a great extent that I didn't want to return it. In fact, if you've just bought your exec-luxury sedan and you didn't buy this Jag, you bought yourself the second best.
And now, back to the review!
That gorgeous exterior:
I need only one line here: It is the best looking sedan I've ever seen till date!
Could you please elaborate on the exterior though:
[Left - Single exhaust tip and lack of the 'S' badging suggest this is a locally made Jag - Right]
Jaguar refreshed the XF sometime last year and since then the car has looked even better, if at all it is possible. The rear profile of the car looks almost sportscar like, while the front end is unmistakably Jaguar. Without a doubt, the XF will turn heads wherever you go and for very good reason.
There are only two elements to suggest that this is a locally assembled Jag with the 2.2 diesel. The first is the badging at the boot lid which says only ‘XF’ without the ‘S’ symbol like in the 3.0-liter V6 diesel imported one. A single exhaust pipe is the second thing that suggests this is not an import.
That Hollywood Drama Interiors:
Throughout this review, there are only three things I did not like and all of them will be explained in this section.
The first is when you walk up to the door to open it and you realize you’ve to press the Unlock button on the key fob. You don’t get a keyless entry button on the door handle which is a shame on a 45 lakh rupee car.
Open the solid doors and you’re sat low on very snug leather seats. Even though the seating position is low, you have a very good view outside and over time you begin to like this seat.
The second thing I did not like is the wood finished panel in the center for the ash tray and the cup holders. They don’t feel very premium or plush.
At the center is a screen that doubles up for music, vehicle settings and navigation. Which makes me come to my third dislike. The navigation system fitted on to this Jag (and even the new Range Rover) is horrid. It is very inaccurate, unintuitive and feels cheap in its operation. JLR CAN do a much better job on the navigation units.
Let me now point you to that instrument cluster which looks simple and uncluttered. The information display gives the necessary information without overdoing things. The stalks that control the wiper and the lights feel pleasant to operate. The steering wheel feels fantastic to grip and is not plastered with buttons. Just the essential music and cruise control is what you find on the wheel.
All this while, the Start/Stop button keeps pulsating, like a heart beat edging you to press it. And when you do so, it is a mini Hollywood like drama that unfolds. First, the knurled aluminium finished gear knob rises up from the central tunnel, waiting for you, the master to take control. Then the air con vents do a 180 degree tumble to ensure that you’re kept cool.
And if you’re doing this in the night, the interior lighting is nothing short of spectacular. The green lighting that is projected on the power window switches makes you think that Jaguar hired someone just to find the right tone, shade and position of that light. The red lighting elsewhere gives a warm feeling to the cool cabin.
[Above - Interior lighting is very pleasing, especially while driving on an empty road at night]
Rear seat space may not be class leading, but the seats are very comfortable to sit in. Seating three abreast is not a big problem and the legroom is sufficient as well. Moving to the back, the XF gets a very usable boot, which though not the biggest in the segment is more than adequate for large bags.
In short, this cabin may not be as tech savvy as the Beemer, as gizmodic as the Audi or as steadfast as the Merc. But it is a perfect place to spend your time driving and I love it.
Under the hood:
You'll find a four-cylinder 2.2-liter diesel engine under the hood of this assembled in India XF. It makes about 190 horses at 3500 rpm. But at 2000 rpm, it churns 450Nm of torque.
The XF is simple to understand. A 2.2-liter engine at the front, a 8-speed gearbox to transfer the power and the drive goes to the rear wheels. That is Page 1, Rule 1 from the 'How to make a fun sedan' book Jaguar has perfected.
Belling the cat through the city:
[Above - After the facelift, the XF's new headlights feature day time running lamps with the 'Boomerang' design to them]
Once you switch on the engine, you tend to lower the window and rev it up just to make sure that it is indeed running. That is how refined this 2.2 diesel is. I selected D and moved out of the showroom, only to find myself stopping and making sure Jaguar had indeed given me the 2.2 diesel. The responsiveness with which this XF moves will make you think the engine is much powerful. I’ve never driven such a four cylinder diesel that moves this swiftly.
Flat out, this Jag has the capability to pin you to your seat. 0-100km/h takes about 8 and odd seconds. While driving it, it feels much faster. In fact, on the perfect road, the rear wheels will give you a good wheelspin and break traction even when the computer nannies are turned on. This engine churns the right amount of power and torque at almost any rev, it is that brilliant.
[Left - Attention to detail in typical Jaguar style. Right - Ride quality is very good thanks to the non-low profile tires]
For engine performance, I have to give it a full 10. The 8-speed gearbox does a wonderful job channeling the power and its only during a few instances that it hesitates a bit before going down a gear or two. Or you can always use the paddle shifters or even the Sport mode this gearbox comes with.
The way this Jag handles the Indian roads will leave you dumb founded. It is no Mercedes E Class, I'll tell you that. But history has always dictated that the 'pretty' cars should have awful ride quality. Not the case here. It takes a lot for a pot-hole to reverberate through the cabin and the general ride quality is very good.
City driving is a breeze. Overtaking is a breeze. Highway driving is a breeze. 'Nuff said?
Belling the cat around a corner:
The XF has a very good engine, rides well and drives well. So how does it corner? I think I'll be bold enough to say that this XF here is a better driver's car than the BMW. And that is a very tall statement.
But then again, the XF is a very good car. The steering feel is fantastic. The way it it guides you through a corner is like a modern parent raising a child: It lets you do all the work so that you feel satisfied, at the same time it assists without you not knowing it. This is one of the best steering systems fitted on to a car.
If the steering of the XF is fantastic, we'll have to find a better word for the way it handles. Turn in is sharp and precise and many a time you do exit the corner with much more speed than when you entered it with.
The top speed is about 225km/h, and I did manage to see 190km/h before the wonderful brakes got the car to a more saner speed. There is definitely a let up in power, somewhere after 130-140km/h, but then again, this is a 2.2-liter four-cylinder diesel engine.
Overall, in the driving department, the XF is aces.
Feeding the cat:
I had this XF for over two days and in that time I've never bothered to drive it economically. By now you would have known that my right foot isn't tuned for fuel economy. Despite that, the XF managed a continuous 13.5l/100km (7.5km/l). Drive this like a gentleman and I really think you'll be able to manage a double digit number even in the city.
Bells and whistles:
[Left - Rear aircon vents and a button to push the front passenger seat forward. Right - No keyless entry button on the door handle]
Jaguar is selling this XF 2.2 in a single variant only. You get most of the features (apart from fully keyless entry) like a sunroof, automatic xenon lights, navigation and entertainment system, parking sensors with a camera and so on. In the equipment front, Jaguar has covered the XF with everything you may need. Apart from keyless entry!
Yours for about 46 lakhs ex-Showroom Mumbai. Yes, that's a couple more than a BMW/Audi/Merc. But, who cares.
Will I buy it?
In a heartbeat.
Another reason for buying it apart from telling your friends over drinks that you drive a 'Jag'?
Until now, you bought a Jaguar over the rest because it was a Jaguar. Drive the XF and that will be the second reason. The first reason is that it is genuinely better than the competition. It is genuinely better than a BMW 5 Series while driving, it can match the E Class in terms of refinement and the cabin is as good as the Audi. And its a Jag.
I've said it a lot of times, I'll say it again. This is the best executive-luxury sedan in India right now. And its a Jag!
[Left - Hard to believe that this is assembled in India isn't it? Right - Not the biggest boot, but usable nevertheless]
What I Liked:
- Superb exteriors
- Dramatic interiors
- Excellent engine
- Drive and handling
- Very affordable price
- Saying 'I drive a Jag'
What I Disliked:
- The navigation unit
- Some iffy interior bits
- The competition? ;-)