has given its XF a mid-term refresh to help it stay competitive against German and Japanese offerings in the executive saloon market.
The most obvious difference with the latest XF are updates to the front end. The intention is to give the XF more of a family resemblance to the Jaguar XJ
flagship. But, truth to tell, you really need to have the old model and the new model parked side-by-side to spot most of the changes.
To my eyes, the revised headlights, day running lights, re-profiled wings and a larger, more upright grille neatly updates the original Jaguar XF
and gives the car the looks it should always have had. At the back there are LED rear lights in a slightly larger cluster.
These subtle external revisions are matched with equally subtle updates inside. There are changes to the trim, higher definition colour display screens, a revised steering wheel and new ventilation controls, plus the real anoraks will notice that the proximity switch for the glovebox has been replaced with an actual button!
Otherwise the interior is unchanged, which means that space in the back still falls into the “adequate” category, rather than “ample”.
On the engine front, the biggest news is the 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel which is expected to make up to 60% of UK XF sales. This turbodiesel has been seen before in cars like the Land Rover Freelander and the Mondeo, but it has been substantially revised for the longitudinal layout of the Jaguar.
The new power unit quickly dismissed two of my concerns. Would the Jaguar XF 2.2D be rather underpowered for a big executive saloon? Would the soundtrack – so important on an premium product like the Jaguar – be a nasty diesel drone?
Within a few hundred yards I had confirmed that the 2.2D model is every bit a Jaguar. Willing, responsive and reasonably refined. As to how it sounds, I have written in my notebook: “How do they get a diesel to sound so undiesely?”, Ignoring the questionable addition to our vocabulary, that makes the point well. It really does manage to sound good, even when stretched.
The engine is mated to a new eight-speed automatic gearbox. As a result the Jaguar maintains its reputation for almost imperceptible gearchanges whether you select the normal, or sports settings on that selector dial that rises, theatrically, from the centre console.
If you prefer to select your own gears you can do so with the steering column paddles. Most of the time, however, you will find that the XF choses its own gears so well that – only in the most press-on occasions on twisty B-roads – did I use the paddles to drop down a cog on the over-run into corners.
The new 2.2-litre engine gives this Jaguar a headline figure of 52.3 mpg on the combined cycle. My real-life figure was some way behind, but still creditable for a car in this class with an average in the upper 30s for city and country driving.
At 149 g/km, carbon dioxide emissions lag a few grammes behind some equivalent models from other prestige manufacturers – but it certainly shows how motor manufacturers have progressed. Not so long ago, over 200 g/km would have been the norm in this class. This CO2 figure puts the Jaguar XF into band F for UK road tax.
Power output is 190 bhp which translates into a quoted eight seconds for the 0-60 mph sprint, with a top speed of 140 mph.
There is a particular joy in driving a car where all the controls seem to work together as a team. The Jaguar is in that elite. The steering has the right amount of assistance combined with sharpness and feedback and the brakes are progressive.
Combine that with good suspension set up and nicely balanced handling and you have a car whose keys will seem to be drawn towards your hands every time you go out for a drive.
Prices for the Jaguar XF 2.2D range from £30,950 for the 2.2D SE to £42,050 for the 2.2D Portfolio, which pitches it close to and maybe even slightly above the equivalent German opposition.