Jaguar XF

New owners, new models and a brilliantly redesigned diesel engine all point to Jaguar surviving the current crisis

If I ran Jaguar, my stress levels would be in the red zone, but managing director Mike O'Driscoll seems remarkably calm. Maybe it's because he genuinely believes it's going to be all right. And why shouldn't it be?

Because Jaguar got a new owner last year, it recently launched the XF saloon; it has just launched a whole new range of engines (thus rendering those first XFs obsolescent), and soon it will reveal a new XJ saloon as futuristic as the current one is retrogressive. So there's a lot to think about.

The new owner, Indian industrial conglomerate Tata, has a light touch and allows Jaguar a freedom it lacked under Ford. The new-model plan is no longer becalmed and a new sports car, smaller than the XK, is now almost certainly going to happen. Jaguar is working on the assumption that the credit crunch will end (to do otherwise is short-term defeatism), and with its new diesel engine it will make hay.

That engine is the centrepiece of this test. Jaguar has had a 2.7-litre V6 turbodiesel for several years, a unit co-designed by Ford and Peugeot-Citroë*and built at Ford's Dagenham factory. Now it has been redesigned and expanded to 3.0 litres, and its twin turbochargers now operate sequentially.

Some figures. The old engine produced 207bhp and a healthy, so we thought, 320lb/ft of pulling power, while posting an official CO2 output of 199g/km. The new one manages either 240 or 275bhp and either 369 or 443lb/ft, the higher outputs belonging to the S version, while both generate just 179g/km of CO2 on the standard test cycle. (So why bother with the gentler one?) These are massive improvements, and the sequential turbo system is why.

Most of the time just one turbo is used, a large one with variable geometry to enable it to mimic a smaller one when needed and thus give a quick response from low engine speeds. The secondary turbo is smaller and has a fixed geometry, so the whole system is the reverse of most other sequential-turbo arrangements in which a small turbo is joined by a larger one as demands on the engine increase.

It means the engine can run on one turbo for more of the time, which improves efficiency by creating a clearer path for the intake air. When not in use, the secondary turbo is blanked off by a valve to prevent turbulence caused by air from finding its way to where it is not needed. Other valves ensure a lot of exhaust gas is recirculated when the engine is running on a light load, which slows down the fuel's rate of burning and reduces emissions of nitrogen oxides, always a problem with diesel engines. The plumbing is arranged to keep those exhaust gases hot and to keep the incoming fuel cool, both of which improve fuel efficiency.

Still with me? The crucial point is that it works. Allow me to set the scene via a slight digression, in the shape of the latest XF V8 with its also-new 5.0-litre, 510bhp engine. This car should feel terrific to drive, if not quite as heroic as the supercharged XFR, but it doesn't quite hit the mark. It feels a little nose-heavy when threaded along sinuous roads;, its suspension is less supple over bumps than a luxurious Jaguar saloon's should be, and its automatic transmission turns ludicrously manic in Sport mode.

An encounter with the V8, then, focuses more clearly our expectations of the turbodiesel. They are rewarded with the revelation that the diesel S is the best XF of all. The smooth V6-ness of the engine note gains the upper hand over any diesel gruffness once warmed up, and such is the torrent of pulling power that hills might as well not exist. Sinuous mountain roads, the sort that flummox the V8 more than they should, are where the diesel really shines although it's a laid-back cruiser, too. The engine delivers its biggest shove at just 2,000rpm and the automatic gearbox's shifting logic is tuned to suit, so there's much less agitated shifting up and down the gears, making progress calmer but still extraordinarily rapid. Sport mode still isn't perfect, though, because it tries to avoid fifth and sixth gears. So you have to revert to Drive or use the excellent manual paddle-shifters.

A fringe diesel benefit is that this XF feels more agile than the V8, thanks to lighter, crisper steering, and it rides more lightfootedly over bumps. All this comes in a handsome package with the most original and intriguing interior in the class, and from £36,900 (non-S from £33,900). We'll be seeing a lot of XFs on the road with these new diesel engines, because any other version is surely an extravagance.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager - North West

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager - South West

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Administrator - IT - Fixed Term, Part Time

    £17340 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Come and join one of the UK's leading ca...

    Recruitment Genius: Property Sales Consultant - Chinese Speaking - OTE £70,000

    £18000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity for a Fluent Chines...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent