Advantages Price. Build. Kit. Comfort. Economy.
Disadvantages Visibility. Rear Space.
The Jaguar XF is what other manufacturers, in the so called “premium sector” (Audi, BMW, Mercedes etc.), would call their medium sized, or executive, saloon model. Currently in the Jaguar range this is the base model, rumours abound of Jaguar producing much smaller cars in the future, but for now, the car reviewed here is the cheapest, smallest, car in Jaguars catalogue.To many, including myself, the fact that the XF is Jaguars lead-in model has done nothing but good for their image, it has considerably enhanced the brand. If new, smaller cars are introduced below this, they had better be pretty damned good!
As with every Jaguar now on sale, even this lead-in model XF is only available with an automatic gearbox, in this case having eight speeds. Whilst this is a factor that those of us who still enjoy driving may well regret, for Jaguar, standardising the specification in this way reaps greater economies of scale in manufacture. Due to the design of the central console, a manual gear lever would also involve major surgery spoiling the very “smooth” interior design.
The XF is 4961mm long and, including the door mirrors, 2053mm wide. Those dimensions make it fractionally larger than its closest rivals.By comparison the Audi A6 is 4920 x 1870, the BMW 5-Series 4899 x 2094 and the E-Class Mercedes 4868 x 2071.
Over the last twenty years, all new cars have grown in size; the Audi and Jaguar would NOT fit my own standard sized 1960’s single garage, whereas the BMW or Mercedes would – but only just!
Jaguar introduced the less powerful version in order to give them a sub-£30,000 base model to the range. Interestingly, bearing in mind that this car was a Jaguar fleet demonstrator, it was a, £29,940, basic SE model, with no options – always the best way to properly assess a new model that, in its most honest form.Incidentally, Jaguar are on the point of launching a very attractive estate car version of the XF, retailing at about £2000 more than the four door saloon reviewed here, it is mechanically identical.
This is the start of the XF range, it tops out at £65,380 for the 510bhp, V8 XF-R – a car that I tried on the same day as driving this one.
One of my professional roles is that of Fleet Manager, which, annually, gets me an invite to the excellent Company Car in Action event at the Millbrook Proving ground in Bedfordshire. Whilst I appreciate that there are some who do not feel that a proper review can be written without owning a car for a considerable period of time, I have for twenty years been visiting this extremely comprehensive test facility and have driven and assessed several hundred cars there during that time. From my own experience I know that a more objective review can be written of a car that one does NOT own. There is no onus on the writer to justify their, quite probably emotive, purchase to themselves and the rest of the world when a review is written in such a way.Incidentally, in 2011, I tested and reviewed the fine 3.0 V6 XF and also drove the 193bhp, 2.2 litre diesel too – a fascinating comparison as it turned out. I have thus now had experience with a total of four different Jaguar XF models.
A “fleet special” model here – specifically designed to keep the accountant happy. The very point of running this four cylinder model is to save on costs over the rather more “obvious” six cylinder car. As it happens, this is a win / win situation, not only are there considerable, demonstrable, cost savings, but, in my opinion, the four cylinder XF is actually a nicer car to drive as you will find out in the latter parts of this review.If you have your heart set on an XF, then I think it useful here to add comparative figures for the 3.0 V6 – these appear bracketed next to those for the model being reviewed. Not only in pure cost terms would I attempt to sway you in favour of the smaller engine car.
There are a couple of obvious premium class competitors, similarly powerful and similarly equipped; for comparison purposes, I am picking out the £30,435, BMW 520d ED and £29,125 Mercedes E200 CDI SE. Whilst the Mercedes has as standard an automatic gearbox, a further £1525 needs adding to the BMW’s cost in order to match the Jaguar’s specification.Over a three year, 36,000 mile period, in cost per mile terms, the 163bhp 2.2 litre Jaguar XF will cost 63.8 (V6 72.5) pence per mile to run, the BMW 64.4p.p.m, unfortunately cost per mile figures for the latest version of the E-Class Mercedes were not available at the time of publication, but would be very similar to the Jaguar and BMW.
It is safe to assume that the great majority of Jaguar XF’s, sold new, will be paid for by a company, the car only passing into private ownership after two or three years. Now that Jaguar have broken the sub-£30,000 price hurdle, this can be regarded as rather less of an “exclusive” purchase than its more powerful siblings. Fleet buyers are a hard-nosed bunch and costs are everything in this market, both for the company and indeed for the lucky recipient of such a car. On both sides of the company / driver equation, the CO2 emission figure becomes ever more critical in terms of cost, and not just in the obvious benefit in kind tax payment either.The XF 2.2d SE emits 135 (V6 179) gm/kg CO2. This substantial reduction in CO2 emissions puts this version of the XF much more withiin reach of the ordinary driver, company or otherwise. In terms of personal tax, in the 2012/2013 tax year, the driver, as a 40% tax payer, is going to pay £228 per month for the use of this specific model. The 3.0 V6 will cost the same driver £320 per month, the BMW £172 and the Mercedes £220.
With £60 change in your pocket from £30,000, in comparison to its rivals the 2.2 SE XF offers a lot of car for the money. Indeed, having driven it and the rest of the XF range – including the twice as expensive (and four times as powerful!) XF-R – I am here to tell you that in my opinion this particular model offers the most outstanding value for money. Yes it is less powerful than the rest of the XF range, but, in my experience, in no way does that make it the poor relation here.
Welcome standard features that I would not expect to see in a car of this price are electrically adjusted front seats, a DAB radio and Bi-Xenon headlamps. The interior has plenty of leather, although the central wearing surfaces of the seats are a particularly nice feeling suede cloth on this particular model – saving the need for seat heaters on models fitted with full leather upholstery.
Of all XF models the 163bhp, 2.2 SE is going to prove the lowest depreciator as this will be an extremely well sought-after car on the second hand market due to its highly competitive running costs.
Yes, you can argue that we live in a day and age of highly efficient cars, even in the executive saloon sector that the Jaguar XF inhabits, in comparison to its Government Average cycle figure of 52.3mpg, the BMW 520d SE will cover 57.6 miles on each gallon of diesel, whilst the Mercedes E200 CDI will do 55.4mpg. Before you counter my opinion of the Jaguar’s economy by saying that it is not class competitive – the BMW benefits from a manual gearbox which is partly how these better figures are achieved. Jaguar offer no manual gearbox option on the XF, which, in a sense, I think is a pity.
The 2.2 XF requires servicing at twelve month or 16,000 mile intervals, whichever comes first.Thanks to “What Car” magazine I am able to tell you that the Jaguar will cost £1338 to service over three years and 36,000 miles. These are countrywide “average” figures, so expect to pay a little more in central London and a bit less out in the provinces. Unfortunately, comparative figures for its German rivals are not currently available.
Jaguar are not topping the customer surveys for nothing. They are genuinely more reliable and freer of annoying glitches than their German rivals. The dealers are also well up to scratch and have a good reputation.Let the “fun” begin! You want to know what this car is like to live with and to drive and be driven in……
The eagle eyed, or those who have just read my review of the 3.0 V6 from last year, will note that the XF has dropped a point here. If this were my wife’s review it would have lost at least three points!Why?
Because, with the smaller (17 inch) wheels there is no denying that the XF looks “under-nourished”. This was a car designed for big wheels and low profile tyres, the smaller wheels may well optimize both the economy and ride potential of this car, but they do absolutely nothing for its styling.You may of course be tempted to upgrade to bigger wheels, but that will send the price of the car over the £30,000 threshold and also harm its economic and dynamic potential. Personally I would get used to the weedy wheels, preferring not to sacrifice function to form.
This is now the third of four XF Jaguars driven here at Millbrook. Had this been my first impression of these cars I would have commented that this was an impressive effort on Jaguar’s part. That all four XF’s were equally well screwed together is indicative of Jaguar’s very high standards.If, in four XF’s tried here, there was not a single rattle or squeak between them on the extremely testing surfaces at Millbrook, I have every reason to believe that this car would remain tight and rattle free for many years on ordinary public roads.
Looking at the XF, the quality of the paintwork and the body panel gaps show this car to be a thoroughly well-built product. It is actually a matter of pride to me that Britain can produce such a world class car in terms of quality.
The 2.2 litre version of the XF has no reason to feel any less safe than the 3.0 V6 and indeed it does not. Thanks to the fractionally better handling, if anything, dynamically it actually has the edge.Driving any XF, even the massively powerful XF-R, one can only wonder at just how reckless one would have to be to cause it to crash in the first place. In terms of dynamic safety, i.e. the way it behaves on the road in extreme driving conditions – as presented here at Millbrook – in my opinion it continues to set the standard for others to follow in this area.
The 2.2, being less powerful, is even less reliant than others in the range on electronic traction control devices – yes, they are fitted, but even in extreme driving do not make themselves noticeably present.Overall the XF is an extremely safe handling car, the abilities of which will well exceed all but a racing driver or suicide pilot.
Before I can start the engine and drive away I need to feel at home in the “working environment”. The relationship between the controls and how I, the driver, am able to instinctively operate those controls is, all important. This for me is make or break, before I drive a car, if it does not instinctively “feel” right in this department then I will never like it or ultimately buy it.The primary relationship between your hands and feet and the main controls in the Jaguar XF is absolutely spot on. For me, at least, the perfect driving position is easily and quickly achievable in this car, that is a feature shared with the BMW, but not the Mercedes.
Instinctively operating the secondary controls however is another matter. By nature now, cars in this market sector have become so technically advanced, and in turn complicated, that the myriad of dashboard features, mostly controlled by a high definition colour touch screen in the centre of the dashboard, are far from easy to use by the driver on the move. Having Mrs R in the car with me at such times is of huge benefit, but surely one should not require the services of a co-pilot in order to properly operate such features as the trip computer and audio controls.This is one car in which a day reading the handbook before setting out for the first drive is highly advised!
This may be the cheapest XF available, but in our experience, it has much more comfortable, supportive, front seats than the more expensive Luxury and Premium Luxury models, which have rather flat, slippery leather seat bases which see you being flung around somewhat in corners.
Due to the tapering, fast-back body shape, rear and rear three quarter vision is badly impaired, heavy front door pillars – commonly referred to as “A pillars” offer fair blind spots too.Partly compensating for these shortcomings are very good door mirrors and the efficient reverse park radar system. As a driver I would however prefer to be able to see, conventionally, all around me without recourse to electronic gadgets and feel that I have to mark this otherwise superb car down in this area.
In its own class, as we have already seen, the XF is a large car. Thanks to the cocooning effect of the interior it does not feel so, although space for the front occupants is more than generous, whatever their size.For those in the back the story is a little less happy, thanks to the relatively small glass area, the cocooning effect borders on the claustrophobic. In terms of head and leg room, anyone much taller than me, i.e. 5ft 8ins is going to feel the pinch, not very good in a car with such generous external measurements.
The car that we were driving actually flattered itself in this section as it had a pale biscuit coloured interior, the difference between such an XF and one with a black leather interior has to be experienced to be believed.Boot space, a major consideration as far as we are concerned, is good but, again, compromised in shape due to the Jaguar’s shapely rump. All of its competitors have squarer, more practical, luggage compartments.
Even more so than in the more expensive XF models, the interior ambiance is truly impressive here. Increasing age does not diminish the appeal of the interior of the XF. No other manufacturer does a car interior the way Jaguar do and there are cars costing three times as much which are less desirable in this area. Instead of going for an entirely retro wood and leather look, the XF’s interior is very contemporary and yet still traditionally luxurious, a feat that all of Jaguars competitors have failed to pull off half as well.On entering the car, surprise and delight features abound; the transmission selector, a circular dial - looking nothing like a gear lever – silently motors up out of the centre console, just where your left hand naturally falls. Also keeping things neat and tidy is the tiny electric hand brake switch, one does eventually become used to using one of these, but I still prefer a conventional hand-brake lever. If the appearance of the magic gear selector is not theatre enough for you, then the air-vents appearing from behind what looks like a continuous aluminium strip are the final encore.
Whilst the Jaguar XF is now a thoroughly familiar car, the interior of each one that I drive never fails to please, it is awfully difficult not to like a car with as superb an interior as this.
In common with the other three Jaguar XF’s driven, there was not a rattle, squeak or creak to be heard in the interior of this car – not only is the build quality very high, but it is impressively consistent from car to car. This may well explain why Jaguar are doing so well in customer surveys such as the influential J,D. Power.
I was expecting the sound system to be notably inferior to that in the last XF driven, which was equipped with the £1300 (optional) Bower & Wilkins set. In all honesty, without driving the two cars back to back, I would have been hard pushed to tell the difference.Where there are no differences is in the efficiency of the excellent climate control system – all four XF’s experienced have surprised and pleased on the interior temperature that they are able to achieve remarkably quickly.
……Time to start it up and to offer you a driving assessment.
There is however much more to this section than a car merely possessing a creamy smooth engine. Put a smaller, less powerful engine in a car usually equipped with a bigger one and the transmission becomes an even more vital component. With eight speeds, you might expect it all to get a little frenetic . Nothing could be further from the truth; automatic gearchanges are slurred through imperceptibly, with never a jolt felt.Thanks to the smaller diameter wheels, carrying higher profile tyres, the road noise is less noticeable than in any other XF, a car which in any form offers extraordinary levels of isolation not only from the road surface, but also from the general elements outside. At 100mph on the coarse concrete banking of Millbrook’s oval track the “baby” XF proves to be an extraordinarily relaxing way to travel.
Performance is not really what this car is all about. With 163bhp it is not going to be fast – indeed taking about ten seconds to reach 60mph could be regarded as pretty pedestrian compared to its more athletic rivals, some of whom have manual gearboxes.However, thanks to the ever-willing automatic gearbox, you never really feel handicapped by the smaller engine, it does what it needs to in terms of performance – nothing more, nothing less.
Last year I awarded the 3.0 V6 XF a full 100% score in this section – it had the best ride and handling of any car that I have driven.Believe it or not, if it were possible this car would score an 11 here – it undoubtedly has the edge on the bigger, heavier versions of the XF. Whilst those high profile tyres and small wheels do their best to spoil the look of the XF, they have a wonderfully positive influence on the already brilliant ride quality.
Jaguar have always had an enviable reputation when it comes to chassis development, never has this been more evident than in this particular version of the XF. Along with the superb ride goes handling which is a near revelation. The lighter four cylinder engine reduces the weight over the front wheels and produces a better balanced car which is keener to corner thanks to wonderfully communicative steering.Indeed, so sharp is the 2.2 XF’s handling that on a twisty road, the keen driver will be able to make up any lost time, over the 3.0 V6, by carrying more speed into and through the corners. This has the side benefit of reducing fuel consumption as you find yourself braking and accelerating less in this car than the other models.
Would I buy one myself and would we want to drive it to Poland in a day?Three years ago, I simply would not have seen myself as a “Jaguar driver”, now this is a car that I actually aspire to own and run. Indeed, for me, with £30,000 to spend on a new car, choosing this one really would be a bit of a no-brainer.
As a personal purchase – even more so as a company car, the Jaguar XF 2.2 makes a lot of sense. It is the ideal car in which to arrive at a business meeting – discreet, English, style, flying the flag – and yet, it is also a fine car for a cross Europe dash, or very comfortable, economical, touring holiday, all things to all men indeed. Probably women too come to that, judging by the number choosing to drive an XF these days.
AUDI A4 2.0TFSi SLine – 71.1%
Putting that score into perspective are the following cars based on identical scoring criteria:
JAGUAR XF 3.0D PREMIUM LUXURY – 82.9%
SUBARU OUTBACK 2.0D RE - 85.3%
SUBARU LEGACY 2.0D RE SALOON – 85.8%
SAAB 9-3 TiD Vector - 68.2%
VAUXHALL ASTRA TWINTOP 1.9 CDTi DESIGN - 78.8%
VW PASSAT TDi 140 S ESTATE - 71.7%
VOLVO S60 D5 SE - 70.6%
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