Three more good rea­sons for a life­time love af­fair with Jaguar

Frederic Manby tries out the mar­que’s three new mod­els for au­tumn, in­clud­ing its fastest-ever se­ries pro­duc­tion road car.

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - FEATURES -

I WAS in the Dales this week, the river val­leys look­ing gor­geous in sum­mer green, vis­it­ing my old­est male rel­a­tive, who spends a for­tune feed­ing siskins and other small birds in his gar­den. His cab­i­net of malts shames most English ho­tel bars for choice. For his 88th birth­day this month he bought a new bi­cy­cle, a Raleigh Pioneer, an alu­minium beauty in mossy me­tal­lic with lots of gears and a rack and a comfy sad­dle on a sprung pil­lar. He is out on his bike most days.

He no longer drives, and misses his mo­tor cy­cles and cars. The talk turned to Jaguars and he re­called see­ing one, as a teenager, go­ing past the vil­lage school, and think­ing “that’s the car for me”.

After the war he cre­ated a suc­cess­ful busi­ness and could af­ford any­thing he wanted. He got his Jag, then an­other and an­other. “I had a new one ev­ery year”, he says. “I loved them”. Then he stopped. “They were in short sup­ply and the dealer who I had been go­ing to for years put a few hun­dred pounds ex­tra on the car I was buy­ing”. A man of prin­ci­ple, he walked away from the deal he could eas­ily af­ford – and bought an Alfa Romeo. “It was just as fast and twice as eco­nom­i­cal and lovely to look at”, he re­calls. It also needed a new en­gine fairly sharpish but he never bought an­other Jaguar, though price-hikes have long-since been banned by the maker.

Ear­lier I had been sam­pling Jaguar’s au­tumn col­lec­tion, a rav­ish­ing if lim­ited choice from two saloon mod­els, the XF and XJ, and the yes-please XK coupe and con­vert­ible. The head­lin­ers were the XFR su­per saloon and the XKR-S coupe, the mar­que’s fastest ever se­ries pro­duc­tion road car – al­low­ing for the brief ex­is­tence of the XJ220. The XKR-S was blue, the XFR was white. Ei­ther is un­suit­ably quick for driv­ers who can’t keep the lid on their auto-emo­tions.

The XFR has a five-litre su­per­charged V8 pro­duc­ing 503bhp and a 0-62mph time in around five sec­onds. Re­ally, it feels even quicker. It costs £65,350 and records 22.5mpg with 292g/km of CO2, so is do­ing lit­tle to save the planet. The V8 in the XKRS de­vel­ops 542.4bhp. The 0-62mph time is 4.4 sec­onds. Top speed is un­re­stricted, to reach 186 miles an hour. It costs £97,000. Its eco-cred is also poor, with 23mpg and 292g/km of CO2, though nei­ther model will sell in vast num­bers.

After a brief blast up the road (one un­der reg­u­lar po­lice scru­tiny for good rea­sons) I took each car back to the park­ing area and set­tled on Jaguar’s im­mi­nent best-seller, the 2.2 diesel ver­sion of the XF saloon. The XF al­ready has ex­cel­lent 3-litre diesel V6 mo­tors, with 237bhp or 271bhp, each achiev­ing the same of­fi­cial fig­ures of 44.8mpg and 169g/km. They cost (from) £36,950 and £42,950.

Lots of com­pany ex­ec­u­tives are very happy, too. How­ever, Jaguar’s Ger­man ri­vals of­fer more choice for the driver on a tighter bud­get and this is where the four-cylin­der 2.2 diesel comes in. Prices open at £30,950 and the of­fi­cial fig­ures are 52.3mpg and 149g/km of CO2 – mak­ing the car much lighter on busi­ness tax­a­tion. The 0-62mph time is slower, though brisk enough at 8.5 sec­onds. The 187bhp en­gine works through an eight­speed ZF au­to­matic gear­box. The driver in a rush can achieve quicker shift­ing and se­quen­tial down­shifts, say sixth to third. It is fit­ted with “in­tel­li­gent” stop-start, a first in the sec­tor, which re­quires an ad­di­tional starter mo­tor and bat­tery.

Why the added weight and com­pli­ca­tion? The en­gine shuts down and restarts much more quickly any­way but has what Jaguar’s en­gi­neers call a “change of mind” sys­tem. This is the in­tel­li­gent bit. “If the driver re­leases the brakes be­fore the en­gine has stopped the unit is re­fu­elled and rapidly re­turns to idle speed in­stead of cut­ting out. Re­sult­ing sav­ings in CO2 are cal­cu­lated to be be­tween five and seven per cent”, says the com­pany’s Angus Fit­ton.

This 2.2 diesel (also used with dif­fer­ent power out­puts by Land Rover in the new Range Rover Evoque) runs smoothly – some­thing we ex­pect these days from four cylin­der en­gines, though not many diesels are as sweet as this one.

Un­like the other XF mod­els, the en­gine is placed in line from the nose, which brought nec­es­sary re­vi­sions to the mount­ings. All 2012 XF mod­els now have ac­tive en­gine mounts to re­duce vi­bra­tion. The bulk­head is now dou­ble-skinned to block trans­mis­sion noise and a new sound-dead­en­ing com­pos­ite has been placed round the tur­bocharger, starter mo­tor and al­ter­na­tor.

The 2012 XF has slim­mer head­lamps, a larger and more erect grille, lower bon­net line with a wider power bulge. At the back, LED lights are fit­ted in a wider unit. There are sub­tle but sig­nif­i­cant changes in the pas­sen­ger area, bring­ing com­fier seats, and a new screen dis­play de­sign.

De­liv­er­ies of the XF 2.2 and the other 2012 mod­els be­gin in the next few weeks.

Jaguar’s XF 2.2 diesel saloon, above. Left, the XF-R su­per saloon and right, the XKR-S coupe, Jaguar’s fastest road car.

THIS YEAR’S MOD­ELS:

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