It’s good to see that Jaguar no longer relies on its past to drive its future.
In fact this marque once dominated by models that looked backwards, such as the late ’90s S Type and the first all-aluminium XJ saloons from the early Noughties, is now a driving force in future power sources with its electric E-Pace.
But in the meantime, as the big switch to electric takes place, the company still makes some very competent diesels such as that clothed by the XF R-Sport saloon we have just been driving. However, it’s regrettable that current market attitudes to diesels combined with Brexit uncertainty have just cost 1,000 temporary employees their JLR jobs when diesel is by no means the biggest contributor to atmospheric particulate pollution.
The XF had wafting ride qualities that belied its R-Sport suspension in a positive way. We had once agreed that R-Sport cars were not for us, too hard and unbearable. But this XF proved the opposite so some suspension engineer at Jaguar has done a tremendous job.
Having delighted in the fact that Jaguar now looks forward in its styling, there is homage to the cars of the past with the shape of the front grille – original XJ saloon – and the C pillar glazing – Mk 2 saloon, also recalled possibly by the Morse Code aluminium instrument cluster finish as the famous detective Endeavour Morse created by writer Colin Dexter drove a Mk 2 in the TV series.
But the rest of the car is very much 21st century, although the diesel engine is perhaps more of a pariah fitment than it would have been 18 months ago. That said, this diesel is efficient, a feature shared by all modern diesels and seemingly ignored by their detractors. Its 2.0 litre capacity pumps out 240 PS and 500 Nm of torque in a remarkably smooth progression that delivers a 0-62 mph time of 6.5 seconds and top speed of 153 mph.
Drive is through an eight speed automatic gearbox to all four wheels, giving the car a smoothness of travel and deftness of handling to delight enthusiasts. Its 40 mpg average will equally delight the parsimonious who nevertheless have a sense of daring.
Rather suitably for a car delivered to be savoured over the Easter weekend (at least that’s the view of one of us) the interior leather was a rich chocolate brown, quite a change from the serious black that dominated the rest of the interior but which was thankfully relieved by the glass roof allowing more light to flood in.
Even the traditional woodwork that Jaguar does so well was in gloss black veneer, a no cost option, when traditional wood would have gone so much better with the leather. The first time one of us witnessed black wood in a Jag was a ’60s S Type, an ex-Flying Squad car, and it looks no better today than it did back then.
Standard on this and every auto Jag is the start-up sequence, a choreographed dance of pulsing red starter button (to represent a beating heart) and the rising of the circular gearshift from the console (possibly a certain type of male excitement) and the green Jaguar symbol in the head-up display. It’s all a bit OTT for our liking and just delays the getting going in a hurry. On the other hand, the gearshift always goes to park when the ignition is switched off no matter what gear the car had been in when stopped and the parking brake sets itself. Ordinary gearshifts can’t do that.
As you might expect, the XF is one size larger than Jaguar’s initial saloon offering, the XE. That doesn’t make the XF big and unwieldy; it’s more the case that it’s perfectly formed for its role as an executive express whisking its occupants discreetly from one boardroom to another thanks to that twin turbo diesel engine.
Despite its four cylinders, it feels superior to the four cylinder engine when used in the Land Rover Discovery and equals that of the V6 in the Range Rover Velar we tested recently when it comes to refinement. There’s loads of power to make the XF a decent towcar so the standard trailer stability control nested in the car’s electronic wizardry will be welcome. With its good boot and generous interior, taking a family on holiday while lugging a large caravan would suit this car. Only the new Sportbrake version might do better.
Maurice and Annette Hardy
Car: Jaguar XF R-Sport 2.0 Turbocharged Diesel 240ps AWD
Does it fit your ego…
0-62 mph: 6.5 secs
Top speed: 153 mph
PS: 240 @ 4000 rpm
Torque: 500 Nm @ 1500 rpm
…and your wallet…
Combined: 51.4 mpg
CO2 emissions: 144 g/km
Best bits: does everything a Jag should