Iconic British brand, Jaguar, has long been an innovator in the auto industry. It’s also come perilously close to going under as a maker but thankfully Indian based conglomerate Tata threw them a chequebook and said go for it. As a result we’ve seen the rebirth of the XJ, the fantastic F-Type and its sibling, the F-Pace SUV. The XF series (now into its third styling), has been a favourite within the brand and A Wheel Thing looks at an example of the outgoing model, in the shape of the 3.0L V6 R-Sport.
First released in 2008, with a bug eyed look and a svelte coupe profile, the XF quickly made its mark against its traditional German rivals. A facelift in 2011 gave the front a much needed makeover, a minor change to the rear and an eight speed gearbox. The car Jaguar Australia provided to A Wheel Thing, the R-Sport, had that plus a grunty yet silky smooth supercharged V6 with petrol the preferred juice, as Jaguar also has a diesel version.
Hiding underneath both a lithe bonnet and acres of plastic is a 250 kW/450 Nm engine, sipping unleaded at a rate of 13.9/7.0/9.6 litres (urban/highway/combined) from a 70L tank. Although tractable, flexible, enjoyable, the thirst was a touch unexpected. But, there’s a caveat and an odd one, to be sure. On a return run to Canberra, the R-Sport used slightly over a half tank of fuel, brimmed before departure to reach its destination.
On the return journey, bearing in mind a portion of this was an uphill run, the car was slotted into Sports mode. This has the effect of tightening up the whole feel of the car, from transmissions shifts to steering to engine response. The R-Sport came home with fuel to spare…
Although it’s an aluminuim build in parts, the XF R-Sport still weighs in excess of 1850 kilos, which contributes towards that fuel consumption. That mass is also noticeable when seriously hustling the R-Sport, along with the fact that peak torque figure doesn’t happen until there’s 3500 revs on board, meaning a bit of a peddle is needed to get the big cat up and running. There’s plenty of grip to play with, though, with chunky and ultra low profile Dunlop (255/35) rubber on black clad 20 inch alloys, which are highlighted by the deep blue on the car.
Compared to the first XF, there’s the far more attractive headlight design, the LED tail lights and J-shape LED driving lights, a reworked front bumper design and,for the R-Sport, a small boot lip spoiler.
Taken through a road that’s popular with drivers, being a downhill run with off camber turns, sweeping curves into hard brake points and a wonderful tightening radius turn, the R-Sport hunkered down and powered through with the grace, pace and space expected. The brakes themselves are wonderfully progressive, with feel from the first touch and biting more on the downwards travel without any feel of fading or needing more pressure.
The interior has been updated for the forthcoming model and perhaps not before time. It’s a plush place to be, true, but starting to look dated. There’s the monolithic grace of the rising and opening of the gear selector and airvents, electric adjustment for the steering column, comfortable and supportive seats, clean ergonomics on the switch gear, a solid and chunky feel to the tiller however the overall look and feel is a touch tired. Wood grain is one thing, plastic wood grain is another…
That’s not surprising, given the design of the XF goes back close to a decade. The satnav interface is a bit clunky, not altogether intuitive and the touchscreen display is over populated with icons. The dash itself is “old school” with a mechanical needle look to the speedo and tachometer and a seeming lack of information being able to be accessed for the centre screen. Located in the glovebox, however, is a sign of pride…
There’s little doubt that Jaguar, as a brand, is iconic. A Wheel Thing owns two XJ6’s, a series 2 and a series 3 Sovereign. Being able to test the modern Jaguars is both an honour and a tug of the heartstrings, as Jaguar has survived unlike so many other British brands. The open chequebook from Tata has gone a long way to help Jaguar reposition itself in the automotive marketplace, from the completely redesigned XJ to the F-Type and Jaguar’s first SUV, the F-Pace.
The XF R-Sport stands as a testament to the innovation of the company and a link to the past, with its almost gentleman’s club interior. With the R-Sport somewhere north of $105,000 and a somewhat hefty weight for its size, coupled with urban fuel consumption of around 14L per 100 kilometres, it’s certainly a car for the well heeled. But it’s also a car for the driver. For a look at the not so old and the new, go here:Jaguar XF sedan, outgoing and 2016 range