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Jaguar XF 2.2 diesel: Test Drive Review

Date: 30 March 2011   |   Author:

Category: Executive P11D
price: £30,500 (est.)
Key rival: BMW 520d

BusinessCar has been given a rare chance to sample an exciting product before it's been revealed to the world.

The explanation for the elaborate paintjob on this Jaguar XF is that it's a final development mule for the crucial new lower-power engine than will boost the car's fortunes in the corporate marketplace. The final version will be revealed to the world at the New York motor show this month, but for now Jaguar wants to keep secret the revised front and rear - rumoured to take on the styling of the larger XJ luxury saloon, to the front at least.

But this car does have the finalised engine, already used in Land Rover's Freelander, and a new eight-speed auto gearbox, so rather than the current 240hp 179g/km 3.0-litre diesel, the range will start with a 2.2-litre 190hp engine bringing emissions down below 150g/km for 52.3mpg.

The new automatic gearbox is not only able to make block shifts rather than individually changing through each gear in turn, but the 2.2d auto is also fitted with Jaguar's first stop/start system.

The new engine is crucial because it means the XF can now go toe-to-toe with the BMW 520d, a model the German firm says accounts for around 70% of its executive sector sales. At present, Jaguar's UK boss Geoff Cousins reckons that only around 10% of the XF's sales are into the corporate market, but for the new 2.2 diesel that will shoot up with 60% of sales being the newly corporate-friendly model.

Despite the disguise, this engine and eight-speed auto gearbox combination are the finished article of what will be rolling down the production line ahead of September's first deliveries. The firm is said to have been working hard on noise, vibration and harshness, including fitting a new twin-layer bulkhead to limit the engine noise entering the cabin, and sound deadening material moulded around the alternator, turbocharger and starter motor. Figures put the reduction at 3dB compared with the outgoing model from the new bulkhead alone.

The effort has paid off. While it's not exactly silent, the engine's harshest notes are now missing, and there's an absence of diesel clatter.

The new eight-speed gearbox is as slick as ever, given Jaguar and sister firm Land Rover are pretty much peerless in the quality of their automatic gearboxes, while the stop/start system shuts the engine down in 300 milliseconds but is clever enough to realise when the driver has a last-minute change of heart, caused normally by traffic lights changing colour. While most systems need to complete the process of shutting down before firing again when the driver goes to pull away, the XF's will kick-in as soon as the brake pedal is released.

The engine itself doesn't feel quite as potent as the 520d, far from struggles with the big XF. It'll accelerate briskly enough up a motorway sliproad, and is quite and refined when up to speed. Although the final damping set-up hasn't been signed off, the suspension on this test model was slightly to the hard side of comfortable, just about more comfy than the new BMW 5-series. On the 20-inch wheels that are likely to be standard fare on this XF, the ride did, though, lose its composure over rougher passages of dual carriageway.

XF residuals have generally matched the Germans, and with the expected price starting from around £30,500, it'll give the BMW 520d something new to worry about.

Not before time, the XF is being opened up to a new level of corporate drivers, and what's there will certainly not disappoint.

Jaguar XF 2.2 diesel
P11D price£30,500*
Model price range£30,500*-£52,900
Fuel consumption52.3mpg
CO2 (tax) 149g/km (19%)
BIK 20/40% per month£97/£193
Service interval16,000 miles
Insurance (1-50)group 35*
Warranty3yrs/unlimited mls
Boot space min/max540/923 litres
Engine size/power2179cc/190hp
Top speed/0-62mph140mph/8.5secs
On sale September 2011
VerdictSo far so good
as Jaguar takes
XF into new territory


So far so good as Jaguar takes XF into new territory