What happens when you match the excellent dynamics of the Jaguar XF with a punchy and refined petrol engine? Ravi finds out.
While Jaguar Land Rover introduced the 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel motor a few years ago, they introduced its petrol counterpart only last year. When we tested it in the F-Pace a few months ago, our unanimous verdict was that the SUV finally got an engine that it deserved. That engine, however, was tuned for 247bhp. But the XF that we’ve got our hands on, in Prestige trim, makes do with the 197bhp version.
Matters of the heart
Since this car is all about the engine, let’s get straight to the business end of things. Hit the start button and the engine comes to life with a bit of a judder. Once it settles down, though, it’s reasonably quiet inside the cabin. But the real beauty of this motor is in the way it behaves on the move.
Right from the word go, the motor pulls with ease. But that’s not surprising, given that it makes its peak 320Nm torque at just 1,500rpm. And the 2.0-litre motor feels equally punchy, as the tacho moves through the rev counter. Take control with the paddles, and it won’t shy away from screaming at the top of the rev range either.
All of this really adds to the overall driving experience, especially since the chassis is truly wonderful. The engine compliments the playful nature of the chassis so well that it’s hard not to have fun behind the wheel. Speaking of which, the steering wheel weighs up perfectly in your hands, and it’s very communicative too. You can switch between the multiple driving modes too in order to alter the engine, transmission and steering response.
For a car that handles so well, you’d expect the XF to be harsh – but that’s not quite the case. For the most part, the car maintains its poise over broken roads, and it’s only over larger potholes that it tends to display some uneasiness.
But it’s not all smooth sailing for the XF. The throttle response feels a bit over-eager sometimes, especially at low speeds – so-much-so that it tends to jolt forward even at the slightest input on the A-pedal. And it doesn’t help that the 8-speed transmission feels a bit clunky
All too familiar
Everything else about the XF remains all too familiar – right from its exterior design to the cabin. Space inside the cabin isn’t class-leading but it’s good enough to be reasonably comfortable. The layout and the tech inside have begun to show its age, though, especially given what the rivals like the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the Volvo S90 have on offer.
The XF, in this Prestige trim, gets a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system that now comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Some features, like fully digital instrumentation, Auto Park and four-zone climate control are only available in the top-sec Portfolio trim – as is the more powerful motor.
Tailored to the driver
The XF isn’t a perfect car, but it’s hard to find one anyway. The design, although still clean and attractive, no longer appears as striking as it once did. The XF also has its shortcomings in relation to luxury and features too. But what it lacks in design, features and luxury, it more than makes up for in pure driving pleasure. The XF is undoubtedly the most-fun-to-drive car in its class. In fact, it’s made us wonder just how much more fun the top-spec 247bhp would version be?
- Jaguar XF 20t Petrol
Engine: 1,997cc / 4-Cylinders / 16-Valves / Turbocharged
Power: 197bhp @ 4,500 – 6,000rpm
Torque: 320Nm @ 1,500 – 4,000rpm
Transmission: 8-Speed AT / Rear-Wheel Drive
Price: ₹ 54.37 lakh (Ex-showroom)
X-Factor: If you ignore the familiar design & ageing interior, there’s no beating the XF in terms of pure driving pleasure.