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.
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: