Jaguar XFR and XF Diesel S - First Steer
Let’s deal with those nasty, out of date rumour mills before we move onto the really good stuff concerning these two new Jaguar XF variants.
Super smooth, super quiet and wickedly quick, Jaguar has pulled ahead of the German brands with these new XF cars.
Looks are always subjective, what looks good to some can be downright hideous to others, but I’m betting very few of you have a problem with the styling of the Jaguar XF.
Should you have such an issue, I can probably assist you with the proper medication.
For those in the know, Jaguar builds very reliable cars these days; in fact, more reliable than both Audi and Mercedes-Benz according to the massive 2009 Vehicle Dependability Study by the US based JD Power.
More importantly, they are dead even with Lexus across a range of ratings factors including, Overall, Powertrain, Body and Interior and Features and Accessories Dependability.
It’s a comprehensive study, involving thousands of vehicle owners, conducted in the United States each year, and one that you can pretty much bank on if you were shopping for a new ride.
Jaguar was also number one when it came to Sales Satisfaction, and that’s ahead of Lexus and Mercedes-Benz in the top five.
Try number two behind Porsche, when it came to Performance and Design and overall Service Satisfaction behind Lexus.
Jaguar is one brand on the up and up with more good stuff to follow.
So there, no need to worry about Jaguar dependability any more, the Americans have already put that to rest for you and you know what a critical mob they can be.
I could start with the exceptional XF Diesel S, but tradition seems always to give preference to the hero car in a model line up and that would be Jaguar’s hard charging, but impeccably mannered, XFR.
If you think you might require more grunt than 375kW and 625Nm of weapons grade torque in a luxury daily driver, then I can probably get my hands on more of that special medication I was on about earlier.
It’s a good thing that the Jaguar PR department had assigned specific cars to the collection of motoring journalists on this Australian launch, or I might have been trampled in the rush for the heavy hitter although, funnily enough, the XFR doesn’t look all that different to any other XF.
There are a few other hints too, like the hardly noticeable lip on the boot lid and the nicely engraved supercharged on each of the 20-inch alloys. But you won’t have any trouble picking the quad exhaust tips or the distinctive red and green background letter “R” on the right hand side of the boot lid.
Inside, it’s more of that lavishly supple leather interior that we saw on the XF SV8. Contemporary English private club with minimal clutter, but with a few very cool XF features such as the alloy drive selector, which automatically rises out of the console in sync with the rotating air-conditioning vents when you hit the start/stop button.
I’d forgotten how comfortable the seats are in the XF but these are even better, more bolster and more comfortable than my overpriced leather lounge, and infinitely more entertaining.
At one point as we were performing some high speed surgery on a few very twisty sections in country New South Wales, I thought there could have been a tad more lateral support for the driver at least, but a quick left-right-left at full tilt in the XFR, and that issue was sorted, no need for more bolster.
Given that most of the time you’ll be sitting in peak hour traffic moving at less than 45km/h, it makes perfect sense to skew seat design more towards comfort, than a Recaro-style race shell.
Is it straight line quick? It’s the XF model flagship, so yes its quick, 4.9 seconds quick and speed limited to 250km/h.
But with a few aerodynamic additions, it will do so much, much, more than that.
Late last year, US driver Paul Gentilozzi from Rocketsport Racing, drove a prototype XFR across the Bonneville Salt Flats at speeds in excess of 362km/h and became the fastest Jaguar since the XJ220.
Jaguar appears to have benchmarked the XFR against BMW’s brilliant V-10 powered M5, itself a four-door tarmac stormer, but whereas the BMW has more aural satisfaction, the Jaguar is super smooth and arguably quicker through the bends.
Its also a more comfortable ride when you are charging along those patched up, truck trodden roads, which are all too common in this great wide country of ours.
You can’t hear the whine of the Roots-type twin vortex supercharger even when you bury the throttle and leave it there, that’s been effectively all but dialled out of the equation and frankly, I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.
But never mind that, I’m pushing the XFR relentlessly through some very fast bends via the quick shifting paddles, and it’s not moving a centimetre off line.
I’m thinking I could go even harder was it not for the dampness and poor quality of the road surface on which we were travelling.
I’ve got the Dynamic Mode lit up too (that’s the one with the chequered flag picture), which remaps the throttle response, alters the stability and transmission mapping and is essential for punting along this kind of terrain at these rather enthusiastic speeds.
What I’m most impressed with though, is the near perfect steering set up, it's superbly weighted, particularly accurate and quick to respond. The XFR is fitted with a “fast ratio” steering rack, which is assisted by more aerodynamic balance through the deeper front bumper and boot lid spoiler.
If you take a peek behind those big 20-inch wheels, you won’t find any bright red, six-piston calipers with the word Brembo inscribed - this very British, public school boy doesn’t subscribe to such brashness.
What you get though are some of the best brakes in the business with perfectly balanced pedal feel and sure-footed stopping power.
On a dry road, the XFR will come to a dead stop from 100km/h in just three seconds or 38 metres and for a luxury car weighing in at 1891 kilograms, that is a remarkable result.
It might be big, it might be fast, and it might be heavy, but one thing the XFR isn’t is emissions heavy. Just 292 grams per kilometre is its combined CO2 output and that is less than many smaller vehicles, as well as satisfying Euro Five emission requirements.
After 200 kilometres in the XFR its time to swap into one of the most talked about cars of the moment, the Jaguar XF Diesel S.
Powered by a 3.0-litre, V6 diesel, jointly developed with PSA Peugeot Citroen, that produces a class leading 202kW and a whopping 600Nm of torque, I can’t wait to get behind the wheel.
I immediately punch it and frankly, I can’t feel a lot of difference between the two cars, I mean there is absolutely no lag, not even a millisecond, it’s jet like and effortless.
That’s the parallel, sequential turbochargers taking care of business in the proper manner; try 0-100km/h in a rapid 6.4 seconds. Impressed? Then what about from idle to 500Nm of torque in a mind blowing 500 milliseconds? That should grab your attention.
Its so petrol like in behaviour, that one of the journalists on the previous drive rotation stepped out of the car the day before, and proclaimed to the XF Chief Programme Engineer that he thought it was a brilliant V8!
Yes, it’s that quiet, I might just have to forgive this person for others will make the same mistake too, that’s a certainty.
Let’s hope that under the fuel filler lid that there is a great big flourescent “Diesel” sticker otherwise a catastrophe might occur.
Even more rewarding is the constant and smooth delivery of power (that’s both the XFR and XF Diesel S) there’s no power band or surge to speak of, just a relentless shove in the back as the car devours tarmac unlike any diesel powered vehicle I have ever driven.
More deserted twisty roads ahead, and I’m driving the Diesel S with the same voracity through the corners as I did the XFR. Again, there’s not a whole lot of difference when it comes to handling dynamics, but that’s not surprising, as the XFS is near enough to 70 kilograms lighter than the supercharged car.
Just don’t think of this car as a diesel and you’ll be fine. Like when you indicate and pull out to overtake, the response will be immediate and fast, try 80km/h to 113km/h in just 3.2 seconds fast.
And if we had German roads and German road rules here in Australia, the XF Diesel would blast on through to its top speed of 250km/h - if only!
Steering might be a tad less responsive but you’ll be hard pressed to call it.
All this and I still haven’t yet got to the best part, fuel economy and emissions.
Here at CarAdvice we think we can drive from Sydney to Brisbane and get 5.9 litres per 100 kilometres, so we’ll attempt that as soon as we can get hold of a car.
It shouldn’t be that hard, as the factory data for the XF Diesel S quotes combined fuel economy of 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres with CO2 emissions at a ridiculously low 179 grams per kilometre.
Normally, I would put my hand up and claim the hero car as my pick, but I am so blown away by the XF Diesel S package, that it may well become the hero car of the XF line up in double quick time.
The new Jaguar's will be in showrooms from July and deliveries to customers are expected to begin in August, with the XFR costing $208,450 and the Diesel S $116,250.