Car details navigation
Jaguar XF S road tested
Driven May 2012
You know you’ve arrived when you can buy a car that costs as much as a house. Now most people would happily buy a Mercedes or a BeeEm or, lately, even an Audi. But not everyone follows the herd, no? The Jaguar XF is exactly for those sorts of people. It isn’t the new kid on the block, but it certainly is the kid that actually looks better after plastic surgery. Don’t know what we’re on about?
Well, the old XF didn’t do justice to the leaping cat and we’re talking about the looks. Yeah, even the boys at Jag can sometimes drop the ball. We loved the rear, we loved the side, but we just couldn’t digest the face. For a regular car, sure, it would do just fine. But for a Jag, that grille just wasn’t lighting up our plugs. But the XF has been under the knife and gone is that Koreanish look. The new XF looks menacing in a very beautiful way. If menacing could look dignified, this would be it. It’s the kind of car the Germans will be afraid to bump into in a dark alley. Make the Germans weep in terror? We like already. The attraction is unmistakable, it’s almost like it pulls you in to have a go. So we did just that. Personally, we like our cats supercharged! But in the general interest of the diesel-crazy Indian populace, we went and picked out a 3.0-litre oil burner from Jaguar’s lot. Step inside and you’re greeted by all kinds of nice cowhide.
It feels special and there’s a sense of occasion in there, specially with those vents that fold out from inside the dash. You can order the interiors in a range of colours and that’s a good thing because we aren’t big fans of the choco-brown dash top seen here. But choose the right set of colours and wood trim and you’re good to go. And as long as we’re nitpicking, that plastic on the column stalks looks like it came off a Land Rover Defender. The cabin is great, but these little bits stick out, especially because you’re regularly going to be fiddling with them.
Most of the XF’s functions are accessible through the touchscreen audio system. There are lots of things to play with, but the system feels a bit slow to respond, which is a downer. But you’ll forget about that when you see the gear selector dial rise from the centre console. It’s these nifty little things that set Jags apart from the crowd. The powered seats are supportive and will hold you in place even through the tightest corners of the Buddh Circuit.
Rear-wise, the XF is strictly a four-seater thanks to the tall transmission tunnel. The seats are comfy but a tad low, which would be a problem if you were a regular car buyer. As a Jaguar buyer, you better be behind the wheel, especially if the cat screams ‘supercharged’ on the bootlid.
Right, the drive then. The little thumb starter on the centre console is backlit in red, pulsing like a heart. Clearly not for the chauffer-driven lot, this XF. Start it up and despite burning the sticky stuff, the clatter is well muted. Even on the move, this diesel sounds like no other. Higher rpms produce an almost petrol-like growl. If Jag held classes on how to make a diesel sound good, they’d be doing the oil-burning world a big favour. And this 3.0-litre is not just about noise either. For starters, the V6 puts out 270bhp and a colossal 600Nm of twist. Strapping our gear on, we managed 7.94 seconds to 100kph, which isn’t too bad. But it won’t make the leaping cat fur blurry enough. We blame it on the looks – you just start expecting too much. If you put aside the numbers and concentrate on the driving, the Jag is well behaved. Turbo lag is well under control and you don’t wait for a bang to throw you into your seats. Acceleration is strong and linear. The six-speed slushbox shifts pretty quickly too. And with Dynamic mode active and using the paddles, it won’t shift even if you’re bouncing off the rev limiter. Switch ESP off and you can let those 600 clicks of torque make for hours of happy tail-sliding fun.
With driver aids off, the XF squirms around as you plant your foot down, but after a point the electronic nannies will stop you from being too silly. Which is just as well, because most of us out there can’t drive for nuts anyway. The steering is light but weighs up nicely as you hit expressway speeds. You do feel the bulk of the car especially when you throw it around tight corners. It may not be as tight as a BeeEm, but it will play ball if you ask it to. But what’s even more impressive is that the ride quality is pretty good despite being on 18inch wheels. The XF may not be the obvious choice for most, but it still makes you feel good. It has character and even the diesel has soul. You’d love it standing in your driveway and you’ll want to take it out every day, which for us is more than enough reason to buy it. The efficiency is another reason to smile. It managed 7.9kpl in town and 11.5kpl out on the highway.
The supercharged XF is definitely more fun but it’ll guzzle fuel like a fat man on a seafood diet. The XF diesel retails for Rs 66.39 lakh. Similarly specced German saloons cost Rs 54-59 lakh. Okay, it isn't the best value, but works of art rarely are. Even then, we’d be scared if we were the Germans, at least till they make something that looks as ravishing as this.