Luxury carmakers the world over are burning the midnight oil over finding ways and means to reduce the sizes of their car models, to minify the engines propelling them, and thus their respective price tags. With soaring middle class aspirations and higher disposable incomes, most of these luxury brands have stepped down a level to compromise with their exclusivity, offering themselves as an accessible option to mortals with humbler monetary credentials. In the Indian context, however, among the more visible luxury brands, Jaguar remains one marquee which is still out of bounds for the pretenders. The entry point into the brand is way further than the red-carpeted doorsills of other manufacturers. Quite simply – buyers on a stretched budget cannot buy a Jag, and the brand still represents exclusivity and opulence which separates the arrived from the ascending.
Images: Chirag Mondal and Sachin Sangoi
All of that said, however, downsizing of engines is a universal phenomenon and if a Ferrari can think of going turbo, than pretty much every car has the right to have a pair of boosters replacing the ceecees. The car in question here, the Jaguar 2.0 liter turbo petrol is the newest and the most basic version of the XF you can buy in India. Powered by a 1999cc turbo charged petrol engine which essentially is Ford’ 2.0 liter Ecoboost unit, the new XF boasts 240PS of healthy peak power @ 5500 rpm and peak torque output of 340Nm @ 1750 rpm. While those numbers aren’t as enticing as those of the 5.0 liter V8, we can assure you that they translate into good performance in the real world.
The 2.0 liter turbocharged unit is a rev-happy, silky smooth unit, which has a muffled sporty note to it as the revs climb up. We love how that engine sounds at higher revs, and the understated aural sportiness of the unit suits the demeanor of a jag saloon well. Performance, as we mentioned earlier, is plausible for the engine size with 0-100 km/h coming in a sprightly 8 seconds or thereabouts, with top speed claimed to be electronically limited to 250 km/h. While double ton can be achieved without breaking much sweat, the claimed top speed of 250+ sounds a little optimistic in practicality. Claimed efficiency is in excess of 10 kmpl – though one should expect a real world figure of 6-8 kmpl depending on driving style.
Transmission duties are taken care of by the trusty old 8-speed ZF transmission which lays down all the power and torque to the tar via rear wheels. You can choose from the regulation ‘Drive’ or the enthusiast oriented ‘Sport’ mode on the unique central drive selector knob which has been finished with the detailing of a crown jewel.
Manual gearshifts can be made using the steering mounted pedals which offer a more fine grained control of gearshifts to someone looking to extract the maximum performance from the car. The ZF transmission is quick and doesn’t mind going down a few cogs to provide you the added spurt to leap ahead. While all of that is good for someone willing to go fast, it may take you by surprise while driving at slower speeds in city traffic. You really have to modulate the throttle well at slower speeds, or the car would charge ahead with more alacrity than anticipated, the transmission having gone down a few cogs at the slightest movement of the right foot.
From behind the wheel, the new engine feels potent, smooth and worthy of finding a place under that long bonnet adorned by the ornate grille at the other end. The steering feels heavy – heavier than any other car in the segment, making its sporty intent evident even before you have taken it out of the garage and onto the road. As you go rolling on city streets, the steering offers decent communication to the palms – there’s laudable feel and feedback on offer, allowing for an involving, enjoyable drive.
The 18 inch wheels on the 3.0 liter V6 diesel powered XF have been replaced with smaller 17 inch rims, taking away a bit of visual drama, but bringing more compliance and comfort to the everyday ride quality at the same time. Sharper edges do managed to filter in though. Together, the primary and secondary suspensions deliver a firm feel overall, which makes this Jag an enticing prospect for spirited. The taller sidewalls do take away some of the sharpness and tautness from the overall experience as compared to its bigger brethren. Marginal body-roll is perceptible while pushing the car hard around bends, however, the XF, even its most basic version remains a grin inducing machine overall for the discerning driver.
One delightful aspect of the XF 2.0 petrol’s exterior design is the fact that it shares every detail on its surface with its bigger and more powerful siblings. Unlike the 2.2 liter diesel version, this one doesn’t make do with a single exhaust pipe and has a set of two to insulate you from judgmental eyes looking for badges. Except for the small wheel size, the XF2.0 petrol looks every bit as premium as it’s more expensive and powerful variants. For those with a real appetite for detail, though, the XF 2.0 petrol loses out on the cornering light function of the top spec versions.
To delight its buyers further, the XF 2.0 hardly loses out on any features or equipment on the inside as well. You get all the bells and whistles, including two-zone air conditioning, Sat-nav, a central 7 inch touch screen which is the control center for all functions – we wish it were a bit more hi-res though. The car comes with a great sounding 11 speaker 250W sound system with Bluetooth, mood lighting, a reversing camera (again, we wish it packed in more clarity), sunroof, powered front seats, leather upholstery, powered rear blinds and auto wipers / lights. Heck, the central screen also features a TV tuner, which, in our case wouldn’t be of much help – unless you can pull off the feat of getting entertained with DD Channels. We love the Valet mode, which locks the central screen with a PIN so the valet at a hotel parking or your driver doesn’t tinker around with your personalized settings.
In addition to the features, the interior reeks of an alluring old-worldly charm which isn’t quite there in the machined, ultra precise interior of some other German cars. The veneer-less wood inserts, the little chrome button to release the glove compartment lid, the hi-quality chrome and satin silver inserts – they all feel different and lend the car’s interior a unique character. Then you have the dramatic emergence act of the big chrome drenched drive selector, along with the revelation of A/C vents from a flush dashboard surface upon turning the ignition on – all of this makes this Jag’s cabin a bit more special than the cabins of your ‘regular’ luxury cars. Our only complaint as regards the XF’s cabin is that the interior doesn’t quite feel as expansive as the massive exterior of the car suggests.
So, then, the brand new XF, while not as big on power and performance as its more expensive counterparts – is just as much of an eye candy for a much smaller price tag. Save for the wheels, there’s no way to tell the difference, which makes the XF 2.0 more desirable than the 2.2 liter diesel variant in terms of aesthetics. Also, cars in this segment are meant more to announce your arrival, to make a statement, and the new 2.0 liter variants gives you the maximum bang for your buck on that count. Jaguar has an aura of exclusivity about it – it’s considered more up-market and luxurious than its rival German brands. In that sense, the new XF allows a fantastic new entry point into the brand. Sure the running costs of the petrol variant are (much) higher than the diesel version, but these cars aren’t meant to log big mileage numbers; their purpose is to make a grand impression at occasions that matter. The new XF makes perfect sense by that logic– it offers you all of a true Jag’s bling, at an incredibly sumptuous price.
Price: Rs 48 lakh Ex-Showroom
Technical Specification and features comparison (Click to expand):