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 Passat – 2011

I’m sure quite a few of you have seen the latest VW ad for the Passat with the Darth Vader kid in it. It’s such a great ad, and co-incidentally quite a good car too.

I recently got behind the wheel of the 2011 VW Passat, in both guises – 2.0TDI DSG and 1.8TSI Manual. It was at a ride and drive event for VW’s sedan launches on their 60th year anniversary. There’s quite a few new variations of the models coming, from the Vivo, new Polo sedan and of course, the South African favourite, the Jetta. My focus, however was on that Passat.

The Passat has always been positioned as a mid level executive sedan, since its first iteration in way back when in the 80’s. There was an update late 2000’s but the unit has always struggled to bring in the numbers they’d hoped. It sells in incredible numbers in the UK, mainly as a popular rep-mobile and something different from the BMW 3Series and Audi A4’s that sell in droves as fleet cars for the corporates.

The new styling is in line with the new VW look, which keeps things sleek and conservative yet still looks fresh in design. To be frank, it’s about as exciting as listening to an Afrikaans sermon, but the Passat models have never tried to be daring. As a side note, the optional Bi-Xenon headlamps with LED’s really give it an up-market look from the front. Still doesn’t save things though.

Engines, at this point, are a petrol 1.8TSI (Turbo, 118kW @ 5000-6000RPM & 250Nm @ 1500-4200RPM) and a 2litre turbo diesel unit. (103kW @ 4200RPM & 320Nm 1750-2500RPM) The 2.0TDI unit is an effortless power plant. It delivers the torque seamlessly through the rev range, especially because it’s mated to an excellent 6speed DSG gearbox. The combination makes for effortless driving, in and around town, and on the highway. The gear changes are so seamless you just watch the rev counter jump up and down the revs. It’s the best bet for the driver that does a good hunk of kilo’s and wants to use it as a family cruiser over the weekends.

The 1.8TSI is just a different beast all together. The 135kW motor is incredibly keen to be revved up and the turbo keeps the power fed right through the rev range. There’s a good bit of thrust in 3rd at any point in the rev range making overtaking and gutsy city driving a real pleasure. The car’s not small, but it the 1.8TSI engine makes it easy work of the Passat’s weight. It does such good work you’ll find yourself racing around like you would in a hatchback. Strange … for a Passat. It’s genuinely so much fun to get revved and driving I seriously would suggest you take it for a spin if you’re looking in this category.

The suspension is familiar Independent McPherson struts with Anti-Roll bar and Multi-link rear suspension. Basically, it does relaxed driving incredibly well, and also gives a great sporty drive when you’re making darting around in traffic. The car makes use of an electronic parking brake, with auto-hill hold, which holds the car on an incline or decline until you get the revs right to go. Nice.

The interior is once again another jump in quality on the VW side. They are getting closer and closer to the sibling Audi interior quality, which is an interesting strategy, not only in terms of pricing, but also positioning of the brand. Anywho, the interior is a familiar happy VW place, with soft touch materials, quality switchgear, and a host of space inside for the family, much more so than its German rivals. Dual zone climate control and everything you’d expect from a mid segment saloon is standard in here, including a fatigue detection system, that tells you to take a break when it notices you’re nodding off. One thing none of the rivals can compete on, is the carnivorous boot. You could easily fit 3 dead hookers and a shovel and some lemons in there, with space to spare. (

There’s a host of optional equipment on the VW that bring it up to technological spec level of its German rivals – rear view camera, parking assist, dynamic headlights, keyless entry, climate controlled seats and high-beam assist. All optional of course, and bring a kid to trade in on those options.

Overall, it’s a worth competitor in my books, and the best part is it has the newest look of them all. Let’s hope the Passat nameplate doesn’t deter buyers, as it really does everything so well. Interior space and that massive boot make it a serious contender for those with families, and I’d suggest giving it a drive if you need the space, more so than the Jetta.
Pricing? We’re talking R325 000 starting for the 2.0TDI DSG and R294 000 for the 1.8TSI. Genuinely good value (careful with the options list) considering the size of the interior, and great engines on offer.

* As a side note, I’d like to thank VW for another great Ride & Drive event, extremely well organized with exceptional presentation – check out a short clip on the presentation here –http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy-D9T2gbKU