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Published on Saturday 25 May 2013 08:09
Ten Second Review
The Jaguar XF 2.2D is a great car in 200PS form but the 163PS car is a bit of a head scratcher. It's no more economical and no cleaner on emissions, but it's a fair bit slower yet is very close on price. Our advice? Pay extra. Go large.
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. The biggest seller in the line-up has been the 2.2-litre diesel, combining strong economy with a 200PS shove. It's been joined in the range by a 163PS version of this engine, which delivers a slightly lower asking price but, in the process, raises more questions than answers.
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 can mop these people up by the simple expedient of offering a 'crippleware' version of the real deal. Jaguar reasons that a small profit is better than none at all.
Just the other side of the £30,000 barrier sits 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, but Jaguar has also launched a Sport pack for the 200PS car which looks fantastic and is well worth bribing your Fleet Manager for.
Cost of Ownership
It would have been a whole lot easier to justify this 163PS car's existence were it to offer better economy and lower emissions than the 200PS version. But it doesn't. The stated figures are exactly the same at 55.4mpg on the combined cycle and emissions of 139g/km. Now compare that with the 185PS BMW 520d Efficient Dynamics which manages 62.8mpg and 119g/km and you realise quite how far Jaguar 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 good car in isolation. Like every other diesel XF, it'll be smooth, refined and a pleasure to own. So far, so good then? Well, yes and no. Given that its emissions and economy don't better the 200PS version and there's a bit of equipment de-contenting thrown in as well, it doesn't seem the best value for money. Were we being harsh, we could call it a rather cynical way to scavenge a few quick sales on the cheap. It's not even as if you save big at purchase time, with the massively superior 200PS car only costing £1,000 more trim level for trim level.
Granted, it may well appeal to those business buyers with a £30,000 car budget, but beyond that, there's no reason for this car to exist when a far better one is so closely priced. So here's a rarity. Don't buy this car. Do the right thing, scrimp another £1,000 from somewhere and get the real thing. If you're going to buy a Jaguar XF 2.2D, get one with 200PS under the bonnet.