Jaguar throws down the gauntlet to its rivals
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.
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ALL SMILES: Jaguar’s XF has revitalised the brand.