Jaguar XF Review & Road Test

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It's the torque of the town

Model Tested:

  • 2009 Jaguar XF S, diesel V6, six-speed automatic - $116,250*

Options:
  • Portable Music Interface $1380; Metallic paint $2650

CarAdvice Rating:

Words: Karl Peskett Photography: www.ozcarsightings.com

Yes, we're talking torque, that glorious face-stretching, organ-squashing, blood-compressing feeling as it swells from underneath the bonnet.

Few cars under $120,000 can lay claim to having 600Nm, especially from only 3.0-litres in capacity, but your eyes are looking at one right now.

Yes, the latest Jaguar XF makes that voluptuous figure, and all at the astonishingly low rev count of 2000rpm. In fact, the torque figure is more than double that of the 3.0-litre V6 petrol available in the same car. Ahem, I did say double!

You have to ask why you'd even consider the petrol car, now that the MY10 update has brought this magnificent diesel engine to the party. In fact, as they are nearly identical in price, there's no thought necessary on the matter - the diesel is it.

It's quicker, more fuel efficient, and has more power, 202kW puts the 175kW from the petrol in the shade, wouldn't you agree?

Yet it's no louder, and no more difficult to live with. If you like that part throttle rush you get from low down torque surge, you're going to love this car.

However, it's not just about the engine with the XF. Everything about it has been set in place to make it a memorable experience.

It's also very different, which is something to be said with the usual bland approach luxury cars take these days.

I mean, if you've got woodgrain, leather and some brushed aluminium in there, you've automatically got a luxury car. Gimme a break - the XF has all those, but it doesn't just rely on them.

Surprise and delight is alive and well. You've probably read about the "handshake" that the car gives you every time you enter the car.

The pulsing heartbeat start button, the rising gear selector, the slow reveal of the air vents - it's pretty impressive stuff, and it doesn't get old each time you hop in. It's not cliched or cheesy in its approach, and for that Jaguar ought to be proud.

What makes it even more inviting, is the blend of aforementioned materials. The wood isn't overly polished, i.e. there's just a satin look that lets you "see into" the grain.

The aluminium used is textured to be tactile, but not rely on a brushed look, like so many others. The leather is hardy, without feeling like pigskin, and the carpet is soft, but hard wearing. If you wanted a book on "good looking and practical", Jaguar has written it.

It's no use, though, if no-one can fit in to enjoy all this, and thankfully, the XF is a full sized car, with enough room for five adults.

The middle seat, as ever, is still a tight fit for the larger ones among us, but the rest of the seating is just as spacious, if not larger, than BMW's 5 Series. That's despite the sloping rear glass, which would normally eat into headroom in the back. What that sloping does do, is contribute to the gorgeous styling.

With the exception of the front headlights, I have to say this is an absolutely stunning car to behold. The proportions are perfect from every perspective. Yes, it's derivative, but I reckon if you're onto a good thing, stick to your guns.

Why do I mention the headlights? Well, the C-XF concept car's front spotters were just spectacularly shapely, yet the production version didn't quite live up to expectation we all had, with its sudden arc placed halfway through the top.

No, those C-XF lights are now found on the new XJ, which is also a beautiful piece of art.

It's a shame, because had the headlights been worthwhile, I could understand the weird shape, but as it stands, the low beam is rather weak, and the high beam is just woeful, especially from a car that's supposed to be able to lope across the countryside. It may suffice for Europe, but in Australia, we need big beams, specifically for dawn and dusk.

I'm going to go on record now, and claim that I have influenced the Australian specification on the latest XF update, well, kind of.

You may remember the video review of the XF we did last year. In it, I criticised the lack of auto-dimming mirrors, especially on something that costs over $100,000. Out comes the MY10 update, and lo and behold, we have auto-dimming mirrors. Excuse me while I take a bow.

Seriously, though, it's nice to see a manufacturer listening, and taking notice. The other thing which I have to mention, is the glovebox, which now works.

On our previous test car, no matter how I tried, the touch-sensitive button for the glovebox would not activate, soft, hard, gliding, tapping - none of it worked. On this car, it opened first time, every time.

The touchscreen menu in the centre console is still very intuitive, reasonably fast, and easier to use than most interfaces, for those who'd rather use their fingers than use voice control, a la i-Drive.

The cupholders will also appeal to the American market, with two large, and one jumbo sized cavities hiding under the woodgrain next to the gear selector.

It's behind the wheel that the XF makes even more sense. The smoothness of the gear shift is replaced by a sharper kick into each gear when using the paddles.

The steering is light, but still communicative. Turn in is quick and crisp, with the artificial weighting you get mid corner in some other cars.

Braking is very good too, with pedal progression nice and even and none of the over assistance that plagues some German cars.

The ride is firm, but the compression and rebound is pliant enough to stop it being too brittle. Combine that with the steering, and you're getting the picture that it's an enjoyable car to drive.

It starts to come into its own above 7/10ths, whereas some Teutonic cars are already wearing you down by then with their heavy steering, or even with the complete lack of feedback.

The XF is a relaxed cruiser, but it comes alive with urgency when pushed harder - the perfect compromise.

When you consider how much diesel it sips, 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres, you really have to ask if you need to look any further. Plus, while you're only emitting 179g/km you are going from 0-100km/h in 6.4 seconds - amazing.

The 600 Newton-metre executive express is alive and well, and with the list at the beginning of the page, it certainly has good company.

Photography by www.ozcarsightings.com

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