2013 JAGUAR XF REVIEW
What’s hot: Best looking car in the segment, brilliant drivetrain and dynamics, excellent pricing;
What’s not: Some options should be standard;
X-Factor: A Jag that drives well and is kind to the hip pocket: win-win.
Engines: 2.0 litre turbo petrol (177kW/340Nm)
Fuel consumption - listed: 8.9 l/100km
Price range: $68,900 - $75,500 (plus on-roads)
It’s the cheapest way to get into a Jaguar.
The $68,990 price-tag may cause some to worry – the last time a Jag was this cheap was back in the days of the X-Type.
But unlike its dowdy uninspiring predecessor, the XF is, without a doubt, the best looking premium midsizer on sale today.
To achieve this price point, though, Jaguar has slotted in a new engine – a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol - the same engine as you’ll find in Ford’s excellent Ecoboost Falcon.
It replaces the outgoing 3.0-litre V6 petrol, which may seem like a strange move; who’s going to buy a four over a six?
Side-by-side comparisons of the vital statistics tell the story.
The new 2.0-litre i4 outclasses the old V6 in every way, with more power, more torque, a quicker sprint time and less fuel used.
Let’s get the Falcon comparison out of the way first. Yes, it uses the same (basic) engine as the Falcon, and yes, it’s slightly down on power and torque (177kW and 340Nm plays the Falcon’s 179kW and 353Nm) however it counters with an eight-speed ZF auto (carried across the XF range), versus the six-speeder in the Falcon.
Those extra two ratios not only help to keep the engine in its sweet spot for longer, but also allow it to go from 0-100km/h in 7.9 seconds, gives a combined fuel use of 8.9L/100km and outputs just 207g/km of CO2.
So, does a four banger cut the mustard in a big cat? Jaguar invited TMR to Sydney to put it through its paces and find out.
There are two levels of equipment for the XF 2.0T; the $68,990 Luxury and the $75,500 Premium Luxury.
The interiors reflect the price difference, with the Luxury spec missing out on full leather, though the ‘Suedecloth’ seat inserts are actually better at keeping you from sliding around.
Paying an extra $6510 for the Premium Luxury variant also gets you a reversing camera (though the Luxury does get parking sensors), power folding mirrors, front door halo illumination, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and 18-inch Vela wheels.
The seats are manually controlled for reach, but height and backrest are electric, though full-electric seats are an option. Both trim levels get electric steering adjustment.
Rear seat legroom in the XF is still a squeeze if there’s a taller driver and passenger up-front, but the boot is an excellent size. Split-fold seats should be included as standard, however; paying $1000 for the privilege is a bit disappointing.
Elsewhere, the interior is pure XF. For 2013, it receives a clear, full colour touch-screen sat-nav across all variants, previously a $2450 option.
The sat-nav has dynamic zoom added, which will zoom into intersections and back out again, making turns clearer. The infotainment also gets improved iPhone and iPod browsing.
And of course, the hallmark of the XF, the handshake – in which the Start button pulses, the gearlever rises in your palm and the air-vents rotate and appear – is included on all XF trim levels.
ON THE ROAD
With a different suspension tune from other variants in the XF range (it misses out on adaptive damping) we were curious to see how the 2.0 i4 coped with the battle-scarred roads of Sydney’s outer suburbs.
We began our journey in the higher-spec Premium Luxury, and given its larger wheels, we were expecting a slightly firm ride.
And that we got. What came as a surprise however is how well bumps are ironed out across broken bitumen. Even more impressive is how well the suspension coped at speed, with the car ignoring all but the harshest of ridges at 100kmh and beyond.
On the return journey in the Luxury model, with 17-inch wheels, the difference between the two cars is almost impossible to pick – good news for those wishing to opt for larger wheels; you don’t have to sacrifice ride comfort.
The steering is light – more weight would be a welcome addition – however there’s enough feedback and turn-in is crisp with no dead-zone around centre. The wheel itself is a good size and thickness, and makes wheeling the XF a pleasure.
The turbocharged four is a super unit. It’s smooth, quiet, powerful enough and works extremely well with the eight-speed auto.
The motor has a nice burble to it when working, and while the spec sheet says that peak torque of 340Nm is available from 2000rpm, in practice it’s only really pulling properly at 2800rpm and above.
Below that there’s a short wait as the turbo comes up to boost pressure. Once it does, it’s extremely linear in its delivery and the claimed 7.9 second 0-100kmh sprint time easily achievable.
The 2.0 litre turbo also took the long uphill sections of the Pacific Highway in its stride (it would have no trouble whistling along an autobahn).
Helping the engine to shine is the fabulous eight-speed auto which slips between gears absolutely imperceptibly.
There’s always torque when on the roll, and though it will hold onto the gears longer than necessary when climbing hills, a quick flick to Sport solves that problem.
Given the hilly terrain on the drive route, Sport was our default setting, but when back in the city, Drive is smoother.
There are paddle shifters on the wheel for those who want to take manual control, and though it’s never going to shift like a dual-clutch transmission, 200 millisecond changes are not to be sneezed at.
Braking is also fabulous with absolutely no hint of fade or sponginess even when hammered on downhill runs.
Dynamically the XF 2.0 i4 is simply excellent. The Germans have to more to worry about than just the price.
FIRST DRIVE VERDICT
There’s a lot to like about the entry-level XF – the $68,990 entry point is one thing, but it also comes with a hefty dollop of driver enjoyment.
Everything we love about the XF is there – the excellent handling, the interior presentation, the segment-leading styling and the trademark Jag smoothness. But adding a smaller engine hasn’t diluted the experience.
Jaguar’s brand manager talks about a “product-led recovery” to restore the brand to its former glory. With the XF, Jaguar is certainly going about things the right way.
- 2013 XF 2.0 Petrol Luxury - $68,900
- 2013 XF 2.0 Petrol Premium Luxury $75,500
- 2013 XF 2.2 Diesel Luxury $69,900
- 2013 XF 2.2 Diesel Premium Luxury $76,500
- 2013 XF 3.0 Diesel Luxury $93,900
- 2013 XF 3.0 Diesel Premium Luxury $102,900
- 2013 XF 3.0 Diesel S $115,500
- 2013 XF 3.0 Diesel S Portfolio $132,500
- 2013 XF 3.0 V6 Supercharged Petrol Luxury $95,650
- 2013 XF 3.0 V6 Supercharged Petrol Portfolio $112,650
- 2013 XF XFR Supercharged V8 $189,900
Note: prices exclude on-road costs.