DOES AN on Ri­vals

NZ Autocar - - In The Field -

The year has kicked off in rather dra­matic fash­ion, not be­cause of boffins prov­ing that grav­i­ta­tional waves the­o­rized by Ein­stein ac­tu­ally ex­ist, but be­cause of some ex­cep­tional drives. Be­gin­ning with track time at Kyalami in a 911 Turbo, fol­lowed by a stun­ning road drive in the 2.0 MX-5, and just last week, a spin down the Seabird Coast in Jaguar’s new alu-en­hanced XF range. While the lat­ter drives might pale in com­par­i­son with the dra­mat­ics of the 911 Turbo on track, their abil­ity to thrill at more mod­est price points should not be over­looked. One can credit much of their bril­liance to sig­nif­i­cant weight drops, ar­guably the best way to en­hance per­for­mance and dy­nam­ics si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

None of th­ese will be big sellers - un­der 100 units each for 2016 - but their abil­ity to sat­isfy in myr­iad ways makes them spe­cial. It’s of note that th­ese three are es­sen­tially all rear driv­ers, two purely so, the other with a ten­dency to push more from the rear than drag from the front.

XF has al­ways been a de­cent steer, and un­for­tu­nately that’s one as­pect that has gone back­wards. But the move from hy­draulic to elec­tric steer­ing has never re­sulted in a more nu­anced wheel, rather just a few ticks less on the emis­sions front. That said, this re­mains a great car to thread down a test­ing road, with weight evenly spread over each axle, and rear drive ar­chi­tec­ture mean­ing easy throt­tle ad­justa­bil­ity of line. It dives into cor­ners with rel­ish, the front planted (thanks to dou­ble wish­bone sus­pen­sion and torque vec­tor­ing by brak­ing) and while be­ing medium in size this feels more like a compact at the helm. Per­haps the cabin con­trib­utes to that, fea­tur­ing Jaguar’s stylish ‘Riva hoop’ de­sign, a semi­cir­cu­lar trim line that con­nects the doors and dash in a flow­ing man­ner.

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