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Jaguar XF 2.2D Review

Mon, 27 Feb 2012 00:00:00 -0800

The Jaguar XF now comes with the 2.2 Diesel engine

We’ve had the Jaguar XF 2.2 Diesel Premium Luxury in for a week for review and road test. How does the 2012 XF fare with the entry-level 2.2 litre diesel engine?

We’ll hold up our hands and state at the off that the Jaguar XF is one of our favourite cars. In XFR guise it’s a stunning combination of savage power and soothing calmness, and the XF Diesel S is probably the most complete executive car on the market.

So we come at a week with the new Jaguar XF 2.2 litre diesel already predisposed to the strengths of the XF, but perhaps a little wary that putting a 2.2 litre diesel under the bonnet will tarnish the soul of the XF.

But we do understand why Jaguar want – and need – the 2.2 diesel out in the market. Without a more modestly engined XF to mop up company and fleet sales from the German competition, Jaguar is never going to be anything other than a niche player in the executive market. So Jaguar has worked hard to make the Freelander’s 2.2 oil burner work in a more Jaguar fashion – and the other way round – in the new XF.

What we get is pretty much the same as we get in every other XF; a good looking car with a terrific cabin that offers a real and tangible alternative to the competition from BMW and Mercedes. But is the Freelander’s 2.2 diesel good enough for the XF?

The changes Jaguar has made to the 2012 XF are evident on our test car, and welcome changes they are too. There was little wrong with the old XF, but the 2012 version gets some nice tweaks, such as the new headlights that are much more like the original XF Concept.

Those new headlights are part of a minor front-end restyle for the 2012 XF with a bigger bonnet bulge, a lower bonnet and a new lower bumper, which contrive to give  the XF a fresh look. Other exterior tweaks include small vents at the back of the wings, new LED tail lights and a new chrome bar running across the boot below the Jaguar leaper.

Inside, the theatre of the original XF remains with its revolving vents and rising gear knob, but there have been a few tweaks to the HVAC, Infotainment screen and SatNav which, once you’ve worked out the quick way to what you want, are a big improvement, as is the latencey on the touchscreen which seems to be much improved. Oh, and the touch open for the glove box – which always seemed to have a mind of its own – has been ditched in favour of a good old-fashioned push button.

Otherwise it’s business as usual, and the XF 2.2 diesel (Premium Luxury on our test car – mid-range) is as nice a place to be as in almost any other XF. There’s a cocooned feel to the drivers seat – comforting but not limiting – and, thanks to extra sound-deadening in the 2.2D, it’s as peaceful and serene as you would like. Jaguar still do interiors so well.

The interior of the Jaguar XF is still appealing

The prospect of a 2.2 diesel Jaguar XF is perhaps not the most appealing one in the world, even if it’s a car Jaguar should have produced from the start (actually, Ford should have done it in the S-Type, never mind the XF). The fact that the XF gets a 4-pot diesel that is good rather than great (unlike the 3.0 litre Ford diesel, which is a great engine) is a shame; but it’ll have to do for now.

Jaguar has tweaked and fettled the engine that comes from the Freelander (and can now be found in the Evoque too), turned it round and created the Jaguar AJ-i4D engine. It gets extra sound deadening and tweaks to the block as well as a new camshaft and water-cooled turbo to make it more refined and more ‘Jaguar’.

The result – mated to the 8-speed auto proliferating round JLR – is an XF that can do 0-60mph in 8 seconds, average 52.3mpg and emit 149g/km. Sadly, those figures aren’t exactly sector-leading, but they’re a good chunk better than the 3.0 litre and, importantly, work wonders for your BIK if you’re a company car driver.

Power on offer from the Jaguarised 2.2 litre diesel is a decent, but not spectacular, 187bhp, but that power output is helped by the healthy lump of torque on offer – 332lb/ft. That translates in to an XF that doesn’t feel like it’s going to run out of breath in a hurry, gets away from the line more briskly than you’d expect and, perhaps thanks to the lighter weight of the 4-pot engine, turns in and handles the bends with more alacrity than some of its bigger engined brethren.

But outright performance isn’t the point of the XF 2.2D, it’s all about filling a potentially lucrative hole in Jaguar’s range with a more economy and business-friendly option. So the XF 2.2D gets (very good) stop-start, which works seamlessly, and an eight-speed auto ‘box that’s calibrated to be economical rather than dynamic. That’s a bit frustrating if you want to get a move on, but dropping the gearbox in to Sport (or a pull on the flappy paddle) gives the XF more life and responsiveness; but then you end up wishing for more power to exploit the chassis. Still, it’s a sensible setup and the XF 2.2 diesel is still a proper XF when you’re behind the wheel.

Thankfully, dropping the 2.2 litre diesel lump in to the XF hasn’t destroyed the Jaguar experience. It is a shame that the 2.2D lump isn’t the sparkling star the 3.0 litre diesel is, but Jaguar has done a good job with what they’ve got available and, although the BMW 5 Series with a 2.0 litre diesel is probably the better car, the XF is good enough to have real appeal.

That appeal still revolves around the ‘Soul’ of the XF, and that’s still intact even in the smaller-engined XF. The cabin is a delight and a far nicer place to be than any German rival, and the XF just makes you feel good.

Economy is decent enough at 52.3mpg (although we averaged 43.1mpg) and emissions of 149g/km help BIK rates be sensible, although the 5 Series undercuts the XF by more than 20g/km. The stop-start is a model of how the system should work, and if you do feel the need to chuck the XF around you won’t be remotely disappointed by its response.

On paper, the Jaguar XF 2.2 diesel is competent and appealing but eclipsed by the BMW 520d in all the areas that you can put down on paper. But let just a small part of your heart enter the decision and input the intangibles in to the equation and the XF is the winner. It’s a car you can live with every day, and a car that makes you smile even when the day’s gone badly.

Which more than makes up for the XF 2.2D’s small shortcomings. It’s just a shame your accountant probably won’t agree.

(59 photos – click any thumbnail for full gallery)

By Cars UK