It’s a curious one,this. How do you make a extravagance product sit easily in the minds of thecar-buying public (and EU emissions regulators) when the zeitgeist is in favourof eco badges, small engines and lightweight models? You pinch Ford’s 2.2-litrediesel engine and put it in your big bar, which, until now, has been runningwith a choice of 3.0-litre V6 diesel or 5.0-litre supercharged petrol engines,and hope that shuts up your critics and wins you more fuel-conscious patrons.
The problem is, Jaguarhas built its standing on big, fast, commanding cars, and so does this2.2-litre diesel version make the XF a more, or less, beautiful proposition?
I love the XF, havingrun a 3.0-litre V6 edition for six months a duo of years ago. It belies itssize and weight with wonderfully delicate steering and handling that allow thedriver to place the car accurately where he/she wants it. Nothing has distortedwith this latest version, and the car looks a lot better for its facelift,which has given it meaner headlights and a sharper rear. I got jealous glancesfrom the deprived souls who bought MkI models, which abruptly look dated.
But when you begin theengine (we had the higher-powered 187bhp version of the 2.2), you get the nastydiesel jangle of a car several rungs down the class ladder. “Oh dear,” Ithought, “They’ve ruined it.” Sure enough, the engine grumbles originally infirst gear, and seems unwilling to go anywhere, so off we rumbled down theroad, me thinking Jaguar had sold itself down the river with a clangy, rattlyold banger. But build up speed, say to 40mph, and all reverts to incredibletype: it becomes a quiet workhorse with enough power for fast overtakes, andsmooth, creamy delivery. In the space of one intersection on the M3, I wentfrom hating this car to punishing myself for not gullible Jaguar to get itright. Of route it has got it right: it’s got practically the whole thing rightsince Indian firm Tata took over in 2008.
So I still love the Jaguar XF, and yes, it would emerge this is the one to buy (I can’t help feeling the 161bhpaccount would be just too feeble). With 149g/km of CO2 and a quoted 52.3mpg onthe combined cycle, versus 169g/km and 45mpg for the 3.0-litre trade, plus acheaper cost by three or four impressive, it’s the one to have.