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Just Purr-fect: Road Test of Jaguar XF 3.0L Diesel S

Adrian Foster of Hertford-based Drivelines Motoring Media Services road tests the Jaguar XF.

The Jaguar XF probably needs no introduction at this point. Since its arrival in 2008, the XF has sold strongly - becoming a common sight on our roads - and successfully began the process of totally revamping Jaguar's image away from the ‘blazer brigade’ to city centre nightclubs. Since then, Jaguar has been restricted to a series of straight-six power units - V6s and V8s – and, magnificent though the latest generation of supercharged V8 is, there's been nothing to match the effortless, near-silent majesty of the old 12-cylinder Jaguars.

Until last year, that is, when Jaguar introduced the third generation of its twin-turbodiesel V6 to the XF, creating the XF Diesel S. Jaguar's AJV6 diesel has always been refined, but the latest incarnation is also genuinely whisper-quiet and velvet-smooth.

Adaptive Dynamics System

The updated XF Diesel S 3-litre V6 turbo diesel is good for 271bhp and a thumping 600 NM of torque, while covering a very creditable 42 miles for every gallon of the oily stuff. The Aerodynamic Pack costs £1500 and for this you get the side sills from the sporty XFR and black mesh grilles. For another £500 you can add the LED running lights, but it’s the Dynamics Pack that intrigues most. It costs £1250 and includes menacing looking smoked 20-inch ‘Volans’ five-spoke wheels and the Adaptive Dynamics system. The software of which analyses the chassis and driver inputs 500 times a second and uses the resultant information to improve handling without apparently sacrificing any comfort.

‘Surprise and Delight’

If you like the way the car looks on the outside, open the door and you’ll just love the interior too. The XF already boasts one of the best cabins of any model on sale, but Jaguar has added a supportive leather driver’s seat. This features 18-way electric adjustment, including heating, plus ‘bucket seat’ side bolsters to keep you locked firmly in place.

You'll find the cabin area packed with 'surprise and delight' features - from the pop-up rotary ‘gear knob’ to the facia air vents, which swivel gently upwards to reveal themselves at the press of the gently pulsating starter button. Those great first impressions are there to impress you and your passengers, which they undoubtedly did when this car was in use over the holiday period ferrying friends to and from dinner engagements. Tellingly, none of them realised at first that they were travelling in a Jaguar, lacking the sense of occasion and opulence of ‘traditional’ Jaguars of old.

Our top of the range Portfolio car also benefited from Alcantara headlining and a leather dash to add more glamour, which contrasts well with the contemporary chromium and piano black trim. All models in the range get the new interior and this is a definite bonus. Despite all the available seat adjustment options, finding a nice, low-slung position isn’t complicated.

Creamy Smoothness

137 And what about the driving experience? Well, the engine purrs gently into life and sounds almost tame when you reflect on how much power this cat can unleash. Nevertheless, the XF S is not designed to terrify you and those great first impressions do not disappoint when the Diesel S gets under way. The engine is as close to heavenly as diesel can get and those twin sequential turbos give it mighty shove, but with a creamy smoothness, and the revised six-speed automatic gearbox matches the engine for silkiness.

Handling is assured by the DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) package, which works hard when you unleash all that torque under the bonnet, but there is a small reduction in driver comfort as the suspension firms up to keep everything under control. However, with this system the XF is more positive on the way into a corner, particularly the front end, but you also feel ridges and bumps a little more. It could be argued that the XF has so much built-in comfort that the sacrifice is small enough to be insignificant.

What do we think?

Years of criticism for being too 'traditional' combined with flagging sales prompted Jaguar to take a radical step when it replaced the retro styled S-Type. And not a moment too soon, in our opinion.

The XF has hints of previous Jaguars in details of its design, but looks and feels every inch a modern, upmarket saloon. The interior is wonderfully stylish, if somewhat clinical, and despite actually containing more wood than any previous Jaguar, it's combined with aluminium to give it a contemporary appearance. It's amazingly comfortable too but also good to drive with very little body roll and responsive steering. The XF proves that Jaguar is back to its best when it comes to building sporting saloons.

Prices for the Jaguar XF 3.0L Diesel S are from £45,600 on the road. If you would like to find out more about the Jaguar range visit the UK Jaguar website.

If you would like to contact Adrian, please email him on drivelines@ntlworld.com.

 

Adrian Foster.