IF Jaguar Land Rover was a football club it would be Barcelona/Real Madrid/ Manchester City/Chelsea/Paris Saint Germain all rolled into one.OK, maybe I exaggerate a bit, but it would at least be a shoo-in for the Champions League. And one of the ‘players’ that has helped make the company such a runaway success is the Jaguar XF.
The sleek and imposing saloon, launched in 2008, helped change perceptions of the marque, which had become associated with the dated era of the G&T-and-golf set.A new-model XF is apparently on the way in 2016. But the original still looks fresh and is particularly appealing in its latest guise as the XF R-Sport, – the first Jaguar to adopt this new branding – which combines assertive body styling with the car’s dynamic performance. That styling includes a Sport front bumper, R-style side sills, featuring sculpted appliqués, and distinctive rear spoiler as well as new R-Sport badging on the side power vents.
In the cabin, the sporting theme continues with the R-Sport badge on the steering wheel and tread-plates, and bright stainless steel pedals. Electrically adjustable, suede-cloth-clad sports seats and premium quality carpets cosset driver and passengers, and there’s a choice of veneers – including carbon fibre – which further adds to the dynamic style. Other sporty styling cues include gloss black window surrounds.
It all adds up to a car that looks like it is doing the ton while parked on your drive.The Flush Magazine test car – a 2.2-litre turbo-charged diesel – had standard kit including a smart key system with keyless entry and start, automatic xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights, auto-levelling and auto washers, rear parking aid with touch-screen visual indicator, 7in colour touch- screen display satnav, posh sound system, Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming, dual zone automatic climate control, DAB receiver, media interface with USB and iPod connectivity, sport and winter driving modes, and electronically adjustable steering column. You can add to that little list the fuel efficiency of truly clever stop/start technology, which contributes to the XF R-Sport’s low emissions figures. The stop-start system uses a special starter to shut down the engine when the car comes to a halt, re-starting it in less time than it takes for the driver’s foot to move from brake to accelerator.
The system also offers ‘change of mind’ functionality, enabling the engine to quickly re-start, even during its rundown phase, to allow the driver to, for example, exploit a gap in traffic at a junction. An illuminated ‘eco’ symbol appears on the instrument panel when the engine has been stopped by the system. Stop-start can be turned off, but will automatically be turned on again for the car’s next journey. The system operates in all modes apart from reverse.
Doesn’t this take a heavy toll on the battery? The XF R-Sport has a second battery fitted just for engine re-starting, meaning that all the usual systems – such as entertainment, ventilation and lights – continue to be powered by the standard battery, unaffected by the re-start. This ‘big cat’ is pretty much a purr-fect drive, the only niggle being rear-ward visibility –making the parking camera a real asset. It’s a saloon with the soul of a sports car, combining dynamic abilities and dramatic looks. A goal-den motor in fact.
Make/model: XF R-Sport
Technical: 2179cc, 163bhp, turbo diesel engine, 8-speed auto transmission
Performance: 0-60mph, 9.8secs; top speed, 130mph
Fuel: 57.7mpg (combined);
Base price: £33,995 OTR.