Cat’s eyes on fu­ture

Per­mis­sion to buy: Jaguar aims to boost mar­ket share with the XF as big Aussie sedans ride into the sun­set

Herald Sun - Motoring - - PRESTIGE - JOSHUA DOWL­ING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING EDITOR joshua.dowl­ing@news.com.au

THIS is not the XF I had in mind at first. I pon­dered the Ford Fal­con clas­sic model with the XF name, built from 1984 to 1988.

It was a time when Ford was rid­ing high and, seem­ingly, could do no wrong — the XF Fal­con had helped topple the Holden Com­modore and the vic­tory was sweet.

Jaguar has sim­i­larly high hopes for its lat­est XF, not to knock out the Ger­man pres­tige com­peti­tors but to in­crease its share of lux­ury four-door sales as the big Aussie-built sedans ride into the sun­set.

As with other high-end mar­ques, Jaguar is an­tic­i­pat­ing the end of lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing will give cus­tomers “per­mis­sion to buy” a lux­ury badge.

The think­ing is that if you buy a car with a fancy badge, you’re no longer tak­ing away lo­cal jobs.

The XF, Jaguar’s se­cond sedan ar­rival in less than 12 months, re­places the XF in­tro­duced in 2007.

It looks re­mark­ably like its smaller sib­ling, the re­cently re­leased XE (an­other clas­sic Fal­con des­ig­na­tion, coin­ci­den­tally). I had to park one next to the other to pick the dif­fer­ences.

On the XF, the headlights have a slightly dif­fer­ent shape and in­ter­nal de­sign, the tail­lights have two semi cir­cles each side and, from the side view, the XF has an ex­tra win­dow be­hind the rear doors. If the XF badge on the boot isn’t a give­away, the twin ex­haust tips will dis­tin­guish it.

Com­mon parts? The door han­dles and mir­rors are shared with the XE and a lot of the switchgear in­side is used on other Jaguars.

How­ever, the rest is be­spoke, even if it looks as if the part is shared with an­other model.

And so to the driv­ing, which is a pleas­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The all-new alu­minium body is about 100kg lighter than its steel pre­de­ces­sor and the struc­ture is stiffer, which means the sus­pen­sion can do its job bet­ter. Imag­ine a car that had gone to Pi­lates. If the core is strong, the limbs can work at their best.

Mean­while, the 2.0-litre four-cylin­der turbo tested has am­ple urge — it got my heart rac­ing and, if it came to guess­ing, I would have picked a larger ca­pac­ity.

As is the case with car elec­tron­ics th­ese days, there are any num­ber of driv­ing modes from (I’m para­phras­ing) “coma” to “manic”.

I set­tled for Com­fort. If you want manic, sim­ply push the pedal on the right.

The en­gine hooks up well to the eight-speed auto. It’s never far away from be­ing in the right gear to cap­i­talise on the en­gine’s epic amount of tur­bocharged torque.

Even on its low-pro­file tyres, the XF de­liv­ers quite a com­fort­able ride, tak­ing bumps with aplomb. Jaguar fits con­ven­tional rubber whereas some ri­vals have run-flats with thicker side­walls that flex less over ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

The two front seats have am­ple ad­just­ment and the XF has much more rear legroom than the cramped XE. It will be an easy up­sell for buy­ers con­cerned about back-row com­forts.

The cabin looks mod­ern and the con­trols are well laid out. It’s no match for the classi­ness of

JAGUAR XF R-SPORT 25t

$89,800 plus on-roads

3 years/un­lim­ited km

$1350 over 5 years

12 months/16,000km 6 airbags, 5 stars

2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo, 177kW/340Nm 8-speed auto; RWD

7.5L/100km 4954mm (L), 1987mm (W), 1457mm (H), 2960mm (WB)

1590kg Space-saver

7.0 secs

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