Jaguar XF evokes best of British

Jaguar's XF saloon gives Germany's executive big-guns some very serious competition, says STEVE WALKER.Everything pointed to British executive car buyers harbouring a powerful and undying love for German cars.

Jaguar's XF saloon gives Germany's executive big-guns some very serious competition, says STEVE WALKER.

Everything pointed to British executive car buyers harbouring a powerful and undying love for German cars.

Camp out in the undergrowth bordering any golf club car park or blue chip company headquarters and you would see the cavalcade of Teutonic engineering ferrying the sales directors and area managers about. Better still, you could simply stay at home and look up the sales charts. They'd invariably look more German than leather shorts.


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But what if the British are not strangely predisposed towards German cars? What if our executives are just choosing them on merit and would really like to drive something with a famous British badge?

If that were the case, all Jaguar needed to do was build an executive saloon that was competitive against the German alternatives and buyers would come flocking. The XF was that car.

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What you get

The XF didn't appear to be the most spacious car in its sector but the coupe-like lines do belie the amount of space inside. There's room for five adults in comfort, generous interior stowage and a boot capacity of up to 540 litres (plus the opportunity to fold the rear seats and add a further 420 litres). At 4,961mm long and 1,877mm wide, on a lengthy 2,909mm wheelbase, the XF is a substantial car, larger than the BMW 5 Series, Lexus GS and Mercedes-Benz E-Class that were available at the time of its launch.

So, get in and settle yourself behind the wheel. What's it like? Well, on entering the XF, the start button pulses red, like a heartbeat - ignition keys are so 2007. Start the engine and the JaguarDrive Selector for controlling the automatic gearbox rises into the palm of the hand, while rotating air-conditioning vents turn from their flush, 'parked' position to their functional open position.

The intention was to make the XF feel special and it does.

On the road

The most popular units are the 237bhp or 271bhp versions of the 3.0-litre common-rail diesel with the latter using twin turbochargers to achieve its performance. The XF's lightweight design means a 0-60mph sprint of under six seconds is achievable in the more powerful car. If that sounds like overkill, a more prosaic option is also available in the form of a 236bhp version of the same engine which reaches 60mph in 6.7 seconds.

The 5.0-litre V8 petrol units offer either a 385bhp normally-aspirated engine - good for 60mph in 5.5 seconds - or a supercharged version which covers the same increment in 4.7s but, just as importantly, provides a wonderful soundtrack wail to accompany the experience.

The key benefits of the super-efficient combustion achieved by the XF's 3.0-litre diesels are the 42mpg combined economy and 179g/km CO2 emissions. These figures are the same for both the 237bhp and 271bhp models making the more powerful Diesel S look very competitive against the likes of BMW's 535d.

The petrol units are predictably thirstier but there's not as big a gap between the 3.0-litre V6 and the 5.0-litre V8 as you might have expected. Buyers can expect 26.8mpg from the V6, 25.4mpg from the V8 and 22.4mpg from the supercharged V8.

Overall

The German dominance of the executive car market was always going to be a tough thing to break but Jaguar pulled it off with the XF.

The classy image and evocative styling offered a tempting alternative to the usual executive car choices from BMW, Mercedes and Audi. More surprisingly still, it can live with these rivals in terms of driving dynamics and its engine technology. As a used buy, the XF looks no less compelling.

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