Jaguar XF 2.2 Diesel

Jaguars. Detailed

Jaguar’s are old people’s cars. If I had 5cents for every time I’ve heard that line this last week I’d be close on R18 richer. This is something Jaguar wants to banish…and fast.

The long and short of how this 2.2litre oil-burner Jaguar came about is simple. Volumes for Tata, the now parent company of JaguarLandRover. Jaguar needs a model to compete in the sub R500K (And more importantly the small-diesel premium market in the UK). This is the cheapest Jag since the X-Type (vomit) left the scenes (and thankfully so). This 4cylinder 2.2litre (140kW and 450Nm torque) is a watercooled turbo and is the most fuel efficient Jaguar yet. Goodey.

How fuel efficient? Well, after a media briefing at Lanseria Airport, we hauled the Jaguar’s all the way to Limpopo to the beautiful Legends Golf Course, at speed, and returned 8.0l per 100km/h. For the type of “spirited” driving we were doing I’d call that a job very well done.

Look at that nose.

The changes in the XF include, most notably, the changes to the front lights, grille and then rear light cluster, bringing the range more in line with the XJ. There are also new alloy wheels, which actually do quite a bit to compliment the look of the car, a new 8-speed (yes EIGHT) ZF Automatic gearbox and revised 1200Watt Bower & Wilkins sound system. The basic just of it, is that there are 2 different spec levels for the XF 2.2. Luxury and Premium Luxury. Jaguar (like Lexus) takes the approach of speccing the car up with pretty much everything, and leaving only a few very individual options for the buyer to chose from. I like this, it’s what differentiates them from the Germans with their extensive options lists, and they can stay. They do this to help smooth out the wildly varying second hand market for Jaguars, so they can drive better long-term value for these vehicles.

Jaguar in the bush. Fancy that.

The XF, in its new refreshed look makes the rivals look like trolls. The sculpted lines and beautifully detailed lights give this car a totally unique and beautiful look. As always, looks are a wonderfully contentious topic, but you’d have to be a peasant not to know that this XF is a beauty.

The interior is a similarly exquisite place to be. The leather looks like it’s been hand stitched by someone’s grandfather in the North of England, and most materials and dials used are exactly what I would expect in a Jag. Only a few parts lifted from LR here and there, but those not really in the know wouldn’t notice. A main touch screen system dominates the dashboard and this is used to navigate most of the car’s electronics (audio, nav, aircon, etc) Thankfully traditional buttons for the main functions sit right below this which is a welcome addition.

Beautiful.

Quality wood, aluminum and leather are used throughout then interior. I’m 26, and I can say that I’d happily live with that interior. I never, not once, felt like this should be my dad’s car. What I find wonderful about the interior is the unique touches of swiveling air vents, rising dial-like gearshift and stitched leather dash. The Audi, Merc and Beemer might have slightly newer interiors but you don’t get the sense of establishment, of exclusivity, and of luxury as you do in the Jag. Jag happily announces that the new revised XF features the very premium Bowers & Wilkins sound systems. I happily smile and say that I didn’t notice the 1200Watts.

Moving on to the showpiece, and the dollar signs for Tata…the 2.2litre diesel engine. When you look at the figures, you’d expect some serious ass-hauling, but don’t get exactly that, and Jaguar doesn’t pretend that this is going to haul around town. There’s quite a bit of turbo lag when pulling off, but once you’re on the boil the torque mated to the 8speed gearbox makes it a gem on the road. I can’t believe that this is the original 2.2litre diesel that’s been making its way around the LandRover-Jag stable. There isn’t that heavy diesel turbo shove when you’re pulling out to overtake, but the gearbox takes over there making sure it keeps the engine in the right rev range to pull the speed up quickly enough. Small diesel engines in bigger executive saloons never blow your hair back, but it does what it’s made to do so very well. It cruises comfortably, and returns great fuel economy (5.4l/100km claimed).

Gearshift Dial. Different.

The 2.2 also employs start-stop system (although we couldn’t get it to work in our car at all). Apparently Jag’s start-stop system shows a 40% improvement on start-stop timing than its direct competitors. I couldn’t comment because ours never worked.

I was quite surprised at how balanced the Jag was on the road. It’s not as dynamic as the 5-series, but it doesn’t pretend to be. It strikes a beautiful balance between a luxury cosseted ride and still has great dynamics. We pushed the car through the twisties and on some very badly tarred B-roads and I can say that it handled everything pretty damn well. Getting up to very illegal speeds I didn’t feel as confident as I do in the rear-wheel Germans, but this is so negligible I shouldn’t even be writing it. But did. Where I think this Jag hits the nail on the head is for those who want a comfortable ride, without being saucy. I would however say that if ride is your thing, I’d opt out of the larger low-profile rubber and get something a with a little more cushioning.

In case you were wondering, she stops on a dime, with no fade, and with supreme confidence.

Rear end.

If you’re in the market for an executive saloon that’s comfortable, has a supremely up-market interior and an efficient engine, then it’s going to be a tough call between the Germans and the Jag. The new 5 does everything supremely well, but the Jag is special and unique and that’s got to count for something. The Audi’s interior is a technological masterpiece but the front wheel drive can’t dynamically compete. The Mercedes is for the guy who just sold his 1997 Camry and I couldn’t think of anything more boring to drive, or look at.

They have a big job to educate that a Jaguar is now within the German marquee price bracket. This XF 2.2 starts at R452 000 for the Luxury specification, so don’t overlook the Jaguar, because it really isn’t just an old man’s car.

For more information visit www.jaguar.co.za

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VW Golf 6 Bluemotion 2011

Unfortunately I am part of a breed that would have red paint thrown all over them in the near future. Why …
Well … I am not a fan of hybrid / eco-cars. I have never been. I believe the eco-hybrid cars are to big V8 engines, what video was to the radio star. Sure they are a driver for the direction where motoring is going in the coming years, but it scares me. I wasn’t part of the big V8 Chevrolet generation, so I’m catching up. I love the rumble, how you can practically hear the oil-fields running dry, and the incredible performance. I’m still enjoying that…and the eco-car is here, burning pitchforks in hand, to take that away.

Thankfully, there was no threat of red paint this week as I took delivery of a VW Golf 6 Bluemotion. For those not in the know, Bluemotion is VW’s eco-line, using modifications to current models to make them more … no … a LOT more economical and environmentally friendly.
The modifications on the Golf are cosmetic changes to the body (lower sills, a wing, different grille and undercarriage changes) to make the body nice and slippery when cutting through the air. Low-resistance Michelin rubber, Start-Stop system, (which switches off the engine when the car is stopped and in neutral) low resistance engine modifications, lowered sports suspension and a form of regenerative braking is employed. No big battery here

The Golf Bluemotion is powered by a 1.6TDI (turbo diesel, 77kW, 250NM) engine, that is actually a lot more responsive and gutsy than you’d think. The part I heart about this car, is that you don’t have to drive the hell out of it to get it to move. The 250NM of torque means you can easily cruise at speed, overtake without shutting your eyes and saying your last prayers, and get off the green-light without having a man on a bicycle whizz past you. So far, so good.

The interior is standard Golf stuff, with no fancy bits, but has everything you need :
• Electric windows and mirrors all round
• Great sound system
• 7 Airbags, ESP and ABS with EBD
• Multi-function leather steering wheel & cruise control
• Dear VW. Please put iPod/Aux plug in as standard, it’s 2011

The options list is unfortunately, not as extensive as the rest of the range, mainly because they don’t want you loading up the car with extra weight and then getting the same fuel consumption as the Hummer. It’s sensible, as saving weight is the name of the game here. Speaking of saving weight, there’s no spare tyre (confused face) Not ideal in SA conditions, but they do give you a fixing kit and compressor.

Handling and braking is pretty much on par with other Golf 6 models. The drive is firm (lowered sports suspension) but the big soft sidewalls on the Michelin tyres means you don’t crash over bumps and undulating surfaces. That said, I’m not a huge fan of these tyres, you can practically feel them bending away from the rims when you corner aggressively, but I guess they get the main job done … economy.

Main gripe, is probably the gearing (A 5-speed manual). You really need to be careful as a rolling change into second going round a corner and uphill could easily have you stall. You can’t really slip the clutch to keep the engine on the boil enough at low speeds. This said, should you stall you can easily fool the start-stop system into starting the engine by an in-and-out on the clutch. Ha!
Total 7day average I managed 6.5l/100km (Manufacturer claims on Urban cycle – 5.7) however I did a lot of city driving, and decided that I wasn’t going to putter around like a pensioner, but rather drive like a normally do (Which isn’t slow) to see what type of realistic consumption it’s going to give. That said, the 6.5l/100km is brilliant in my books, and I did get it down to around 4.5l/100km when highway cruising. One of my colleagues at ZACarShow (www.Zacarshow.co.za) easily returned the claimed figures because he can easily switch to a geriatric motoring style. At closer to claimed figures, it will easily get over 1200km on a tank, and is a fantastic cruiser for that, and many other reasons.

Overall this car does what it’s gone out to do … and well. It does it well without cutting off your balls and replacing them with a mangina (a-la Prius). You’re still driving a Golf6, which is respectable, and that exactly said, it’s a Golf6, which is a well engineered vehicle! How many pennies would you have to fork out for this VW? Well, it goes for R266 900 (Thankfully no CO2 Tax). For the first time, I can honestly say that it’s the ONLY eco car I’d give my own hard earned South African Rontz out for.

For more information/specification on the Golf, visit www.vw.co.za
Vehicle supplied by VW South Africa.