Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It means that the perception of beauty is subjective; with the Jaguar XF’s reskin from the first model being seen as one of the most beautiful cars around, it seems that all agree.
When Jaguar released the XF, in its initial guise (circa 2007), it was a car that reignited interest in the big cat brand. The X-Type and S-Type had sold well but hadn’t really fired the imagination of the public whilst the XJ had soldiered on, suffering a misconception it was a more mature person’s car and had barely changed from the ground breaking Series 1. A flowing, athletic shape, a traditional Jaguar line in profile, a pert rear were marred by a goggle eyed front. The inside piqued interest with a rotating gear selector rising from the centre console and aircon vents that opened in concert. 2011 saw a facelift inside and out and the addition of a four cylinder diesel. The addition of a 2.0L turbo petrol engine in 2012 gave another option for Jaguar buyers. It’s this model (XF Luxury) that A Wheel Thing tested (with a massive thanks to Bethany Allsop at Jaguar Australia) for a week, coming away with a largely positive feel.
Clad in Rhodium Silver, riding on 17 inch “Ursa” alloys, the XF cuts through on a visual level; the update brought in Jaguar’s “J’ blade” LED running lights, High Intensity Discharge Bi-Xenon headlights, LED taillights and a purposeful nose down stance. The overall look is, unsurprisingly, that of a predatory big cat. The test car’s interior (which can be specified in a bewildering range of leather and trim colour options) is what could be considered a standard mix, with an aluminuim sheeting on the dash and a combination of suede and leather for the seats. Not unexpectedly the seats feel just right, comfortable and supportive, with a subtle grey piping. The steering column lowers itself into position once the driver is seated, whilst a pulsing red light draws the eye to the power on/off button. A press, an elongated press (it won’t allow just a tap) of the button kicks the engine into life, raising the gear selector from the console like something from an Indiana Jones film as the aircon vents rotate silently and expose tastefully chromed and Jaguar embossed handles. There’s a slight vibration as the engine kicks into life, the eight speed gearbox (complete with tight fitting paddles behind the wheel) awaits input and receives it, being turned clockwise to Drive. It’s now where the first “hmmm’ comes into play; there’s a hesitation between powerplant (177kW/340 torques) and transmission then the revs rise then….boom, turbo cuts in. It’s not a smooth transition and occasionally had potential for a crash into oncoming traffic while the engine decided what it wanted to do. Under way, however, it’s a seamless meld of technology as all eight ratios (which show on the dash when the sports mode and paddles are used) barely register their presence, with a flicker of the tacho the only visible sign of a gear change. Although “just a two litre four cylinder” (the same as found in Ford’s Falcon and Focus) the torque on tap allows the XF to pull like a diesel. Acceleration is linear, with the tacho flicking quickly between numbers while the speedo gets illegal.
From the drivers seat it’s a sweet view, except for the navitainment screen. A Wheel Thing hasn’t seen a somewhat messy conglomerate of information such as this before, showing maps, radio, temperatures all at once in a not terribly user friendly screen. Having tabs is much easier to use and sensible and less work overall for a driver. Sound quality from the audio is crisp, clear and punchy, easily heard over the minimal road noise. Directly ahead of the driver is a clean and classy dash layout, with a simple yet classic look. The tiller has rotary buttons to select info on the small LCD screen and feels just right in the hands. Handling is just about spot on, with the lighter engine block meaning less mass in the nose and improves ride comfort. Pushed hard into turns there’s barely a wiggle of its shapely hips as it resettles before moving along. When given its druthers it “hauls arse” with seamless wavelike torque hustling the aluminuim chassised XF along to freeway speeds and beyond in an indecent haste. The suspension is taut yet supple, hard edged but forgiving, absorbing ripples in the road surface with minimal impact whilst ploughing over and through larger bumps.
With Ian Callum’s designs winning praise world wide across the Jaguar range and including the new F-Type (more on that soon), Jaguar’s move from “gentleman’s club” to the new rich is paying dividends for the sales and is also reflected in the quality awards the brand is winning. By offering a more accessible product in the foundation range for Jaguar, covering six trim levels, plus a range on engines, the XF Jaguar takes the fight to Germany on an even playing field.
For more information on the XF Jaguar range, follow this link: http://www.jaguar.com/au/en/xf/models_features/models/