Jaguar XF 2.0: The new leaping cat in town

Updated: 20 July, 2014 06:43 IST | Amit Chhangani |

The Jaguar XF 2.0 petrol brings the much-revered leaping cat a little closer to discerning buyers

With soaring middle-class aspirations and higher disposable incomes, most luxury brands have stepped down a level, offering themselves as an accessible option to mortals with humbler monetary credentials. In the Indian context, however, among the more visible luxury brands, Jaguar remains one marquee, which is still out of bounds for the pretenders.

The entry point into the brand is way further than the red-carpeted doorsills of other manufacturers. Quite simply — buyers on a stretched budget cannot buy a Jag, and the brand still represents exclusivity and opulence, which separates the arrived from the ascending.

The 2.0 litre engine has a sporty note to it towards the higher rev-range
The 2.0 litre engine has a sporty note to it towards the higher rev-range. Pics/Amit Chhangani

All of that said, however, downsizing of engines is a universal phenomenon and if a Ferrari can think of going turbo, then pretty much every car has the right to have a pair of boosters replacing the ceecees. The car in question here, the Jaguar 2.0 litre turbo petrol is the newest and the most basic version of the XF you can buy in India.

The interior of the XF has its own character. Unlike the hi-precision, clinical cabins of the German machines, this one has an old-worldly charm about it
The interior of the XF has its own character. Unlike the hi-precision, clinical cabins of the German machines, this one has an old-worldly charm about it

Powered by a 1999 cc turbo charged petrol engine which essentially is Ford’ 2.0 litre Ecoboost unit, the new XF boasts 240PS of healthy peak power @ 5500 rpm and peak torque output of 340 Nm @ 1750 rpm. While those numbers aren’t as enticing as those of the 5.0 litre V8, we can assure you that they translate into good performance in the real world.

The chrome drenched drive selector knob is unique to the XF
The chrome drenched drive selector knob is unique to the XF  

Engine and performance
The 2.0 litre turbcharged unit is a rev-happy, silky smooth unit, which has a muffled sporty note to it as the revs climb up. We love how the engine sounds at higher revs, and the understated aural sportiness of the unit suits the demeanour of a jag saloon well.

Performance, as we mentioned earlier, is plausible for the engine size with 0-100 km/h coming in a sprightly eight seconds or thereabouts. Claimed efficiency is in excess of 10 kmpl — though one should expect a real world figure of 6-8 kmpl depending on the driving style.

Transmission duties are taken care of by the trusty old 8-speed ZF transmission, which lays down all the power, and torque to the tar via rear wheels. You can choose from the regulation ‘Drive’ or the enthusiast oriented ‘Sport’ mode on the unique central drive selector knob, which has been finished with the detailing of a crown jewel.

From behind the wheel, the new engine feels potent, smooth and worthy of finding a place under that long bonnet adorned by the ornate grille at the other end. The steering feels heavy — heavier than any other car in the segment, making its sporty intent evident even before you take it out of the garage and onto the road.

The 18-inch wheels on the 3.0 litre V6 diesel powered XF have been replaced with smaller 17 inch rims, taking away a bit of visual drama, but bringing more compliance and comfort to the everyday ride quality at the same time. Sharper edges do manage to filter in, though. Marginal body-roll is perceptible while pushing the car hard around bends, however, the XF, even its most basic version remains a grin inducing machine overall for the discerning driver.

One delightful aspect of the XF 2.0 petrol’s exterior design is the fact that it shares every detail on its surface with its bigger and more powerful siblings. Unlike the 2.2 litre diesel version, this one doesn’t make do with a single exhaust pipe and has a set of two to insulate you from judgmental eyes looking for badges. Except for the small wheel size, the XF2.0 petrol looks every bit as premium as it’s more expensive and powerful variants.

Cabin and features
To delight its buyers further, the XF 2.0 hardly loses out on any features or equipment on the inside as well. You get all the bells and whistles, including two-zone air conditioning, Sat-nav, a central seven inch touch screen which is the control centre for all functions we wish it were a bit more hi-res though.

The car comes with a great sounding 11 speaker 250W sound system with Bluetooth, mood lighting, a reversing camera, sunroof, powered front seats, leather upholstery, powered rear blinds and auto wipers/lights. In addition to the features, the interior reeks of an alluring old-worldly charm which isn’t quite there in the machined, ultra precise interior of some other German cars.

The veneer-less wood inserts, the little chrome button to release the glove compartment lid, the hi-quality chrome and satin silver inserts – they all feel different and lend the car’s interior a unique character.

Then you have the dramatic emergence act of the big chrome drenched drive selector, along with the revelation of A/C vents from a flush dashboard surface upon turning the ignition on — all of this makes this Jag’s cabin a bit more special than the cabins of your ‘regular’ luxury cars. Our only complaint as regards the XF’s cabin is that the interior doesn’t quite feel as expansive as the massive exterior of the car suggests.

Our verdict
So, then, the brand new XF, while not as big on power and performance as its more expensive counterparts — is just as much of an eye candy for a much smaller price tag. Save for the wheels, there’s no way to tell the difference, which makes the XF 2.0 more desirable than the 2.2 liter diesel variant in terms of aesthetics.

Also, cars in this segment are meant more to announce your arrival, to make a statement, and the new 2.0 litre variants gives you the maximum bang for your buck on that count. Jaguar has an aura of exclusivity about it — it’s considered more up-market and luxurious than its rival German brands. In that sense, the new XF allows a fantastic new entry point into the brand.

Sure the running costs of the petrol variant are (much) higher than the diesel version, but these cars aren’t meant to log big mileage numbers; their purpose is to make a grand impression at occasions that matter. The new XF makes perfect sense by that logic — it offers you all of a true Jag’s bling, at an incredibly sumptuous price.

First Published: 13 July, 2014 09:14 IST

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