Jaguar throws down the gaunt­let to its ri­vals

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - FEATURES - Keith Ward

ON a sprightly af­ter­noon drive through the by­ways of the in­spir­ing York­shire Dales, the Jaguar XF seemed to dance its way, swift, poised and el­e­gant, enough to put joy in the heart.

Then, with the sun go­ing down, a “low fuel” mes­sage il­lu­mined on the dash and I re­called the dire warn­ing in the hand­book of the se­ri­ous en­gine dam­age if you run dry.

Ear­lier in the day, faced with a forced mo­tor­way fill-up of diesel in this bor­rowed car – at an ex­tor­tion­ate £1.47 a litre (£6.68 a gal­lon) – I ad­mit I had tried to es­ti­mate my max­i­mum need for the day.

Now, vil­lage af­ter vil­lage came up with­out a pump in sight. Are they all on red diesel from a can around here?

The Dales be­came a diesel desert with me pray­ing for an oa­sis. Miles left in the tank, ac­cord­ing to the trip com­puter, were re­lent­lessly count­ing down. In mild anx­i­ety, I re­duced speed to a nurse-along rate. The Jaguar con­tin­ued to purr.

At last, an­other vil­lage with – yes – a pair of an­ti­quated pumps. At dusk, no­body around.

In the far gloom of a clut­tered, oil-fra­grant work­shop, past a grimy white Sil­ver Shadow (lo­cal wed­dings a spe­cial­ity), the chap mend­ing a punc­ture apol­o­gised for not com­ing out. He’d heard me, but thought I was pass­ing through.

Not to worry. At what­ever pump price (not easy to read), he obliged with 30 quids’ worth (bet­ter to be safe) and I was on my way.

Per­haps pumped-up fuel prices in gen­eral are mak­ing mo­tor­ing mi­sers of us. Or is it just me?

All this is not to den­i­grate the Jaguar’s thirst. In fact, it

Spear­head­ing the up­dated 2011 model year diesel ver­sions, this S vari­ant gains some of the sport­ing garb of the XFR in terms of ap­pear­ance, im­proved driv­ing dy­nam­ics and an up­graded in­te­rior.

Our top Port­fo­lio-trim ver­sion also wore an op­tional £1,250 adap­tive dy­nam­ics pack. Al­lied to low-pro­file tyres on 20-inch wheels, han­dling be­comes the pri­or­ity, the ride no­tice­ably knob­bly on some sur­faces.

Top-of-the-range fea­tures in­clude leather seats, in­te­rior mood light­ing and sev­eninch, full-colour, touch-screen dis­play.

Slip be­hind the wheel and it’s a star­ship ex­pe­ri­ence. The start push-but­ton throbs red, ea­ger for the fray. The cir­cu­lar gear se­lec­tor rises to hand and four lou­vred dash­board vents glide open. The big diesel is im­pres­sively quiet, even from cold.

Gen­er­ous over­all, the boot is shal­low and long (1,100 mm or 43 inches) so it’s a far reach to the back of it.

These are happier days for Jaguar. New own­ers Tata Mo­tors of In­dia, who bought Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) from Ford in 2008, have man­aged to pre­serve its three UK plants, sign a new pay deal with its 16,000 work­ers, or­der a £5bn ex­pan­sion, which means a string of new mod­els as well as 1,500 ex­tra jobs at Hale­wood alone, and steer it cur­rently to­wards a £1bn profit this fi­nan­cial year.

This is on the back of a sales surge in Asia, with the award-win­ning XF lead­ing the way for the re­vi­talised Jaguar brand, more than mak­ing up for a 10 per cent dip last year in the re­ces­sion-hit UK.

In its In­dian sum­mer, Bri­tain’s favourite big cat can smile once more.

More: 01926 641111.

ALL SMILES: Jaguar’s XF has re­vi­talised the brand.

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