Jaguar XF SE 2.2-litre diesel

Top speed: 142 mph

Acceleration: 0-62 mph in 8.5 seconds

Fuel consumption: 52.3 mpg

CO2 emissions: 149 g/km

Price: 30,950 Jaguar's XF SE represents one of the motor industry's most predictable mid-life updates ever – but it is no less welcome or impressive for that.

When I first reviewed a diesel-engined XF back in 2008 – the original version had a 2.7-litre V6 - like just about everybody else who tried it, I was very impressed. I did, though, enter the following caveat: “...while the XF is an outstanding product, I suspect that, once the excitement that greeted its introduction has died down, it may not be quite enough. At the moment, the XF range starts at a lofty £33,900 and offers no equivalent to the entry-level, low-CO2 emitting BMW 520d and Mercedes E220 CDI, its obvious company-car competitors. That probably needs to be fixed within a year if Jaguar is to maintain the momentum it has achieved since launching the XF. An estate model is essential too, if only as a means of hanging on to customers deserting the 4x4s made by Jaguar's sister company, Land Rover.”

Jaguar did up come with a new diesel engine within about a year, but at 3.0 litres, it was actually bigger, rather than smaller, than the first one - although to the company's credit, despite a useful boost in performance, it was more economical than the 2.7. There's still no sign of that XF estate, either, but Jaguar's progress doesn't seem to have been affected too badly as a result - and a couple of bad winters have done wonders, from Land Rover's point of view, in terms of getting rid of the anti-SUV mood that was gathering pace as we entered the recession.

Now though, Jaguar has finally come up with that smaller diesel to take on BMW's and Mercedes' big-sellers, a development that is bound to boost the company's chances, especially with taxation-conscious company car user-choosers. Was it worth the wait? Customers won't get their hands on the XF SE until later in the year, but I recently had a chance to drive a pre-production model - on the basis of my short drive, the answer appears to be “yes”.

The engine itself is a 2.2 litre four-cylinder turbocharged unit, which provides 190 horsepower (PS) and 450 Newton metres. That's easily enough on paper to provide the sort of performance any buyer would expect from a Jaguar – the company claims a top speed of 142 mph and acceleration from rest to 62 mph of 8.5 seconds. At the same time, the smaller engine holds out the promise of better economy and fuel consumption than XFs have so far been able to deliver. According to official tests, the 2.2-litre diesel XF achieves 52.3mpg on the combined cycle and emits 149g of CO2 per kilometre.

But for a Jaguar, performance is about more than the raw data. A Jag has to feel like a Jag, and the XF SE does - that's quite an achievement given that a four-cylinder engine will never feel quite as smooth or sound quite as interesting as the sixes fitted to more expensive models. The engine is very muted, quite an achievement, given that the company has reduced noise from most other sources to an exceptional degree; when it can be heard, it has an agreeably growly note. One vital ingredient in the new Jag's appeal is its eight-speed automatic gearbox from German transmission suppliers ZF. ZF eight-speeders have already been seen in several cars, including this model's most obvious direct competitor, the BMW 520d, as well as the latest version of the Range Rover from Jaguar's sister company, Land Rover. It's just as good in the XF 2.2 diesel as it is in those other cars; smooth, responsive and always in the right gear. Another interesting piece of technology is this car's stop-start system; probably one of the cleverest seen so far, it provides beautifully unobtrusive restarts and is able to deal with events that might confuse a less sophisticated system such as the so-called “change of mind” scenario where a driver who is slowing to a stop decides to accelerate again before the car comes to a complete rest.

The new Jag's performance is almost identical to that of its two main rivals, the BMW 520d and the Mercedes E 220 CDI, although the two German cars are also available with manual transmission, which delivers a slight edge in CO2 emissions and allows a slightly lower entry price; the Mercedes E-Class is also available in cheaper, less powerful form as the E 200 CDI. On the other hand, the Jag cuts a bit more of a dash than its admittedly excellent rivals, not least because it still has comparative rarity on its side.

The 2.2-litre diesel is part of a modified 2012 XF line-up which also includes a upgrades such as an eight-speed gearbox for the 3.0-litre diesels, and a comprehensive facelift. When I drove the XF recently, it carried a disguise that concealed the restyling which was finally revealed to the world at last week's New York International Motor Show. A new nose, with narrower meaner headlamps strengthens the XF's family resemblance to the larger XJ. At £30,950, this Jag should find plenty of takers.

News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
Dominique Alderweireld, also known as Dodo de Saumure, is the owner of a string of brothels in Belgium
newsPhilip Sweeney gets the inside track on France's trial of the year
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
Sport
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
News
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
music
News
i100
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
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.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

    £38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

    Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

    £35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

    Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

    £15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

    Day In a Page

    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea