Published on Sunday 20 April 2014 16:52
Ten Second Review
The Jaguar XF 2.2D is a great car in 200PS form but initially, its 163PS 2.2D counterpart was a bit of a head scratcher, no more economical and no cleaner on emissions, while being a fair bit slower yet very close on price. That's been sorted now. So how does the 2.2D 163PS XF variant stack up?
In many ways, Jaguar were damned if they did and damned if they didn't. When the brand launched the XF back in 2008, it realised that it had to step out of a hidebound styling theme and appeal to a whole new class of buyers. Existing Jaguar customers railed at the new car's modern styling but it did exactly what Jaguar wanted, shucking off the company's fuddy-duddy image and punting it straight into the vanguard of luxury marques.
Since then, the XF has been incrementally improved with tweaks to the styling and the engines, plus the addition of a Sportbrake estate bodystyle. The biggest seller in the line-up has been the 2.2-litre diesel, in top form combining strong economy with a 200PS shove. The entry-level point to the line-up though is the 163PS version of this engine, which delivers a slightly lower asking price and now, in revised ECO2 form, slightly lower running costs.
So, the first question that probably needs to be answered is how much damage shaving 37PS off the 200PS car's power output has done to performance. The answer is a fair bit. With 163PS on tap, the Jaguar XF will accelerate from standstill to 62mph in 9.8 seconds, compared to 8.0 seconds for the more powerful car. For what it's worth, top speed is scalped back from 142 to 130mph. Remember that the price difference between these cars is just £1,000 and for that modest saving, you'll have turned a relatively brisk car into one that requires a bit more effort to pedal along.
Otherwise the story is much the same. The XF's tactility still has the capacity to surprise and delight. This car's eight-speed automatic transmission remains one of the smoothest in the business and refinement is a real XF strong point. This diesel variant benefits from active engine mounts. Improved soundproofing material filters out road and engine noise, while the door mirrors have been redesigned to help quell wind disturbance at speed.
Design and Build
Since the Spring 2011 facelift, the XF has had a much sleeker look, something that's also a feature of the newest derivative in the range, the Sportbrake estate. It's got a 1675-litre total loading capacity and there are nearly 100 different ways to configure the interior.
The interior of the XF was always one of its strong points and with not a lot being wrong, there isn't a great deal to fix. You'll find a restyled steering wheel, a new infotainment system, better quality air vents and uprated seats. Jaguar hasn't been able to do anything about the XF's slightly compromised rear headroom, although legroom remains better than you'd expect. The boot measures 500 litres which is less than the class standard, albeit not by too much. Cabin quality is extremely good with a feel that's modern British in all the best ways without lapsing into cheesiness or caricature.
Market and Model
Value for money is a tough one to crack, but it's here that this XF justifies its existence. Many company car policies have £10,000 price brackets and with the 200PS car opening at around £34,000, it was missing out on those who'd been given a £30,000 company car budget. The XF 2.2D 163 derivative is there to mop these people up.
The most popular variant with this engine is the XF 2.2D SE Business model which features satellite navigation complete with a seven-inch touchscreen and hard disk mapping. This is in addition to the standard specification which includes intelligent start stop, a 400-watt sound system with DAB digital radio, leather/suedecloth seats and bi-Xenon headlights. On paper it's not bad value for money at all.
Cost of Ownership
It's a whole lot easier to justify this 163PS car's existence now that it returns better economy and lower emissions than the 200PS version. A range of technical tweaks allied to a Stop-Start system mean that it can deliver 57.7mpg on the combined cycle along with 129g/km of CO2. That compares to 55.4mpg and 139g/km of the 200PS diesel variant. So Jaguar are going in the right direction. But compare that with the 185PS BMW 520d Efficient Dynamics which manages 62.8mpg and 119g/km and you realise quite how far the brand still has to go with running costs to even approach the top table.
Let's keep things in perspective though. Any big, luxurious car that can manage over 50mpg is one heck of an enjoyable way to travel without racking up big bills. Residual figures have stood up well, due to a strong reliability record and Jaguar's sensible decisions concerning supply and discounting.
This 163PS version of the Jaguar XF 2.2D is a lot easier to justify now that its fuel figures are better and its eco stats greener than the comparable 200PS version. Having said that, the differences still aren't great and if we could afford to, we'd take the pokier four cylinder diesel every time.
Having said that, just look at the pricing. An XF with 200PS 2.2-litre diesel power starts from around £34,000 because you can't get it with an entry-level trim package. A version of this Jaguar with the 163PS unit starts from around £30,000. Quite a difference. You can see why so many people go this route in purchase of this car and for those that do, there's now an extra balance sheet reason for doing so.