First Drive: 2012 Jaguar XF 2.2 Diesel

“We make beautiful, fast, cars”, says Tania Cleary, Jaguar SA’s Sales and Marketing Manager, shortly after welcoming media to the local launch last week. It’s the mantra Jaguar have coined to remind themselves of what their products should be, after having lost some of their ‘shine’ with the retro-inspired and Ford DEW-platformed S-Type that lived long past its expiry date – its once-novel retro styling eventually became synonymous with a brand perilously stuck in the past. It’s also a mantra that seems to be working by all accounts, as one glance at the latest Jaguar C-X16 Concept will silence any naysayers.

With reference to the current XF series, it’s a car that began the transformation from the retro to the modern, while the latest XJ has moved Jag’s game on even further to the point of being decidedly avant-garde. With the new 2012 Jaguar XF 2.2 Diesel, however, it’s very much a case of ‘less is more’.

Common to the 2012 XF model range are the styling ‘tweaks’ that have been introduced with the XF 2.2D. Revisions to the grille, bonnet and front wings, incorporating new triangular side vents, endow the XF with a little more ‘muscle’, while the xenon headlamps now incorporate LED daytime running lights that form a distinctive ‘J-Blade’ signature. Likewise, the tail lamps are now LED for stop, tail and direction indicator functions and their lower half extends into the central portion of the boot lid. The changes capitalise on the XF’s unique styling and continue to make it the discerning choice amongst its executive sedan competitors.

For 2012, the XF’s interior has also been updated. Among the revisions are new seats, said to be more supportive – although the difference felt marginal when recalling those of the XF 3.0 V6 Diesel S Premium Luxury we tested back in March – together with new colour combination choices for the leather trim, wood veneer and headliner. The centre console still features the ‘pop-up’ JaguarDrive Selector that rises to meet your hand when starting the engine, as well as the air vents that rotate open, but the steering wheel has been given a more ‘contemporary’ look and the driver’s instrumentation is now delivered by a full-colour LCD display. The XF’s infotainment system has been updated too. The 7-inch touch screen, mounted in the centre of the dashboard, features the same graphics as the flagship XJ and has new buttons positioned below, to provide quicker access to the various functions – the touch screen’s response time could still do with a bit of a boost though. Excellent sound quality is delivered via a Bowers & Wilkins sound system, which can be upgraded from the standard 440W to 1200W.

The 2012 Jaguar XF’s running gear remains unchanged and means the car has lost none of its driving appeal. Unequal length wishbone front suspension with weight-saving aluminium components and multi-link rear suspension, are both subframe mounted for maximum control, straight-line stability, improved anti-dive characteristics under braking, and minimal road noise and vibration. The XF’s road manners remain among the best and, even with some of the country’s youthful and exuberant motoring media behind the wheel, the XF remained poised and without protest on the Limpopo launch route.

The new XF 2.2D is the most economical Jaguar ever built, both in terms of fuel consumption and its price tag. Both these factors are of course due to the small capacity 2 179cc turbodiesel AJ-i4D engine nestled beneath the bonnet.

The 2.2-litre diesel engine comes from within the Jaguar/Land Rover stable, namely, the new Range Rover Evoque, but for duty in the XF, the engine has been repositioned and given a shallower sump in accordance with the XF’s lower ground clearance. Low-friction pistons and a water-cooled turbocharger serve to increase efficiency, while active engine mounts and modifications to the engine block help reduce NVH levels. In addition, a twin-layer bulkhead reduces interior noise levels by up to 3 dB.

The engine itself produces 140 kW and 450 Nm from 2 000 r/min, which provides enough urge for an 8.5 second 0 – 100 km/h benchmark sprint and a top speed of 225 km/h. Judicious use of the throttle will return 5.4 L/100km according to Jaguar, with CO2 emissions of just 149 g/km. The XF 2.2D feels by no means underpowered and a key factor in the car’s performance is the new 8-speed ZF automatic transmission. Although the 7th and 8th cogs are both overdrives, the large spread of ratios and the ability to shift down multiple gears in a single go (8th to 2nd for example), makes harnessing the engine’s torque easy. The new transmission also works with an engine stop/start system to improve fuel economy.

Apart from the drivetrain, the other pleasant surprise is the price. The Jaguar XF 2.2D Luxury starts from R452 480 – way below any of its main ‘German Big Three’ rivals. Jaguar look to have successfully created an entry-point to their stable that represents good value without detracting from the distinction of the Jaguar brand and one which we expect will lead to considerably more XFs on our roads.

Pricing (incl. VAT & CO2 Tax)
Jaguar XF 2.2D Luxury R452 480
Jaguar XF 2.2D Premium Luxury R522 480

Pricing includes a 3-year/100 000km warranty, 5-year/100 000km maintenance plan and Roadside Assistance.

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About Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes is the publisher and editor of the SA Car Fan website, which he founded in early 2009. Scott is a member of the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists and works behind the scenes on a daily basis to ensure you remain up-to-date with the latest motoring news. Follow Scott on Twitter.

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