WITH THE EXCEPTION of maybe the Honda Accord and VW Passat (albeit one being petrol manual and the other a diesel DSG auto), none of the vehicles within our long-term fleet are that comparable. This is intentional though, as we always look to cover a breadth of vehicles from different sectors across the local market – big, small, cheap, expensive, diesel, petrol. What became interesting in this month’s assessment was to feel the differences in ride quality between these diverse vehicles over the same stretch of asphalt. The route to Cape Point was the same as a trip I would take with my own family on a weekend. The exercise allowed me to assess my cat’s cruising ability as well as its balance between ride comfort and roadholding over various road surfaces.
While I’m used to the Jaguar’s girth, the other testers immediately commented on the larger proportions of the Jag in relation to their own steeds, specifically referring to the tighter roads of Chapman’s Peak. Dynamically, the XF is solid and reassuring in turns, but springing errs on the side of soft and compliant (not spongy), so bump insulation from corrugations and potholes is well contained and the overall ride quality is excellent. This translates into a consummate open-road cruiser with generous damping that saw the big cat purring effortlessly along highways and on the open sections of our test route.
As I near the 6000km mark, the 2.2-litre turbodiesel is running-in nicely and showed its first dip in the average monthly fuel consumption to 8,8ℓ/100km, as well as a decrease in running costs from 102 to 99c/km – aided no doubt by the recent decrease in the diesel price. Recently, a similarly-specced XF 2.2 averaged just 4.9ℓ/100km from Pretoria to the Durban beachfront and back. Seasoned economy-run expert Roger Rouessart completed a massive 1265.8km on a single tank of diesel, consuming just 62.351 litres over the two-day journey, which took in numerous toll-gate stops and high traffic volumes.
Looking at his impressive efforts, clearly I have a lead foot or my unit has still got some way to go before it is truly run-in although my economy figure stems mainly from my everyday commute. But the mark still gives me a target to aim at on my next long journey, once I have a few more kilometres under the Jaguar’s collar.
RECENTLY I HAD to leave my house in Durbanville around 04h50 in order to catch a 06h20 international flight. I was blissfully cruising along with the seat heater on, my mind in neutral and had just entered the Cape Town International parking area when I was struck with a sudden sinking feeling … I had left my passport at home. It was now 05h20 and, needless to say, I was now AWAKE with anxiety. I turned the XF’s rotary drive-mode knob to S as it lengthens the shift points on the eight-speed automatic transmission and sharpens its throttle response. There was little need for the auto stop/start function either, so that was quickly deactivated as I was on Defcon 5 in terms of time. The return trip through Parow and Bellville to my abode was a blur and I arrived at the airline’s check-in just before the flight closed. My hands were now shaking, my heart valve-bouncing and the smell of the XF’s hot brake calipers was lingering in my nose.
It was only after I was seated on the plane did I look back at what had just transpired. Until this point I had never regarded my big cruising cat as much of performance machine. Its luxury, refinement, frugality and cosseting nature lull me into liberal use of the accelerator on the daily commute. Thankfully, there was virtually no traffic en route that morning otherwise I would have never made it – one still has to keep within the legal slimits. That said, every bit of the 2.2-litre turbodiesel’s 140kW and 450Nm of torque were put to good use. I’m sure I even beat the 8.5-second 0-100kph claimed acceleration time from traffic light to traffic light at one point.
But the XF is no a stranger to performance, and later that same week an XF won its class on its race début at the Nürburgring 24-Hour, the leading diesel-powered vehicle to finish. The XF 3.0 Diesel S was prepared by the Carvell Motorsport Team and fitted with Jaguar’s 3.0-litre V6 powerplant, specifically built for the iconic endurance event with claimed outputs of 300kW and 600Nm of torque. It completed 109 laps of the Green Hell, almost 10 laps ahead of its nearest rival by race end. Jaguar supported the Carvell Team by donating the use of its Nürburgring Test Centre – home to Jaguar’s development facilities for its road car programme – for the build-up to and duration of the race. Good to know XF development is in good hands, especially when faced with unforeseen emergency trips like mine to the airport.
A FORMER COLLEAGUE recently replied to my first tweet as a new father, ‘Angus … you’ve sprogged?! Congratulations, now the journey really begins”. I’m still not quite sure if her surprise stemmed from that she never knew my wife was expecting or if it was the sheer terror (in the child’s case) that I was, in fact, now someone’s DAD. While brief, my journey into fatherhood thus far has indeed been life changing (as most said it would be) and a true blessing.
Needless to say, our long-term Jaguar XF 2.2D has had a baptism of fire since its arrival over a month ago. From its first race to the Emergency Room, the XF has already racked up a stack of kilometres on daily trips to and from the hospital and between Baby City, home and work. The Jaguar’s relaxed cruising nature, comfort and opulence have made the tempo of the trips that much calmer and more bearable. I never feel taxed from the drive regardless of distance, while appreciating it being a welcome change to the utilitarian confines of my previous Toyota Hilux Xtra cab.
But it’s also taken some time to adjust from a carry-all, go-anywhere bakkie to a luxury mid-size sedan, especially in terms of transporting large bulky items or chosing one’s intended route. To its credit, the XF’s supple ride quality has smoothed many a dirt road and its capacious near 500-litre boot has thus far consumed all I’ve stuffed into it. The real test is likely to come though, when the stroller and camp cot need to be added along with the rest of the toddler’s togs.
Naturally my lifestyle and priorities have also had to adapt to the new arrival. With the return of the Hilux I wondered at the time if my weekend mountain biking explorations would be limited with a sedan. Thankfully, Jaguar offer a detachable tow bar on the XF’s option list, with various pin plug adapters to suit most bicycle racks. The tow bar is lockable and provides a sturdy perch, and if you tire of it standing proud at the rear, it’s easily detached and stowed beneath the boot floor.
Between burping, bathing and nappy changing, the journey ahead has only just begun, but so far my time behind the wheel of the XF has made it that more rewarding.