This new, facelifted XF 2.2 D is a very important car for Jaguar. If the Coventry company’s predictions are correct, it’ll nearly double XF sales, from 12k units in 2010 to 20k in 2012 (deliveries don’t start until September 2011). Fleet sales will be boosted as it dips below the crucial 160g/km tax threshold, and 43% of XFs to leave the Castle Bromwich factory over the coming years will be 2.2 Ds.
That’s not all. The new four-pot diesel’s arrival coincides with a mid-life facelift for the entire XF range, ushering in the C-XF concept car's looks and an updated interior. Read on for CAR’s first drive review of the new Jaguar XF 2.2 D.
Jaguar XF 2.2 D, huh? That must mean it’s a four-cylinder diesel engine, right?
Right, but we don’t expect the same sort of uproar from Jag fans that came when the company first fitted a for-pot oiler into the X-type in 2003. This is a car the company must build, and the more it sells, the more money that can be put into projects like the XE sports car and C-X75 supercar.
The engine itself is the 2.2-litre, single turbo, four-cylinder diesel that will soon debut in the Range Rover Evoque. Only here it’s been installed in a north-south configuration for the first time, necessitating a whole host of ancillary changes, including new engine mounts, a new oil pan and different sound deadening. On that note, the 2.2 D benefits from a new twin-layer bulkhead to further reduce noise, additional sound deadening moulded around the turbocharger, alternator and starter, and all new diesel XFs feature active engine mounts too.
You’ll be telling me its front-wheel drive next…
No we won’t – the XF remains resolutely rear-drive, with those two back wheels driven by a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic. It’s the only transmission choice, and it’s mated to Jaguar’s first-ever stop/start system. And a very good system it is too, shutting down regardless of whether the air-con is on or not.
So what are the official figures like?
No match for Audi’s A6 2.0 TDI or BMW’s 520d unfortunately. Even with the stop/start system, the headline figures are 149g/km CO2 (both the Germans manage 129g/km) and 52.3mpg (again a little behind).
The power output is par for this class, but the torque figure is class leading, a chunky 332lb ft. That’s also 12lb ft more than the original XF 2.7 D in a car that weighs 26kg less; the 2.2 D is a few tenths slower to 62mph, but it’s nearly 15mpg better.
What about the new looks?
The headlights are sleeker, mimicking the style of the gorgeous C-XF concept – about time too, we say. There are also new XK-aping, C-shaped LED daytime running lights built into the headlamps, and much better than the slightly aftermarket looking items that were integrated into the metal strakes in the lower bumper on the current model.
LEDs feature in the rear lights too, and there’s an extra light element below the narrower chrome blade on the boot. We’re not sure about the new, chromed side vent though, and the sharper looks only draw attention to those slightly flabby sides – nothing has been done about the Lexus GS-alike hips.
So that’s the outside, but what about the inside?
A few subtle but important changes. There’s a lot less silver plastic, and all the buttons are now rubberized items and all the better for it. The super-simple cruise control remains, but there are now rubberized wheel spokes too, there’s a little more shape to the gearshift surround, but alas we’ve lost the hidden touchpad that opened the glovebox – it’s now just a boring button. The rotating air vents and rising rotary gearshift remain.
Our test car came in top-level Premium Luxury spec, which means everything from sat-nav and leather, to Bluetooth connectivity and heated front seats are standard – essentially, it’s got everything on it you’ll ever need. Traditionally the Premium Luxury trim has accounted for 28% of sales and lesser Luxury trim has taken 29%, but expect a little shift towards the latter with the new 2.2.
Right, so what’s it like to drive?
Very, very good. It’s nimble and agile in a way that no car this big has any right to be, the steering is quick, light and full of feel, and… and the chassis is so sweet you’ll soon find yourself wanting and wishing for more power. Driven an E-class recently? The XF exists in a different world, but the downside is the same slight problem that afflicts all modern Jags – a firm ride. It’s not 1-series M tough though, and we reckon the trade-off is worth it.
Only on start-up (especially when cold) and when you’re really thrashing it does the engine betray its four-cylinder roots, but for the rest of the time it’s smooth and quiet. Best to twist that gear selector in S if you’re pushing on though; with eight cogs to choose from, the transmission will be forever shifting down and searching for the right ratio if you leave it in D. There are paddles, but they’re still small, plasticky items with a short, unsatisfying throw.
It’s brilliant to drive, but those all-important official fuel and emissions figures can’t quite compete with the class best. The solution? Let your heart rule your head on this one.