By Patrick James on 2016-10-01 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Jaguar XF R-Sport
THE success of Jaguar Land Rover since it was bought by Tata is astonishing.
The Jaguar brand has always been desirable. It's Jag after all, but it has never really broken through in the high end, mass sales market.
That is changing. The firm's renaissance started with the XK back in 2005, followed by the XF a couple of years later, the revamped XJ, the F-TYPE, XE and now the F-PACE, with more on the drawing board.
The XF has always been an excellent car with its lightweight aluminium body and unique technological touches, such as the rotary shift controller, glowing starter button, rotating air vents and phosphor blue ambient lighting, allied to a decent range of engines.
But it still struggled to make a decent dent in the supremacy of the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class.
This is changing too. Just like its smaller successful sibling the XE, it is firmly targeting those brands, now offering low emission Ingenium engines and a slick manual gearbox.
The XF drivern here offers lowest CO2 emissions of any non-hybrid model in the segment says Jaguar, with 104g/km.
The latest XF range starts at a competitive £32,300 and offers an array of kit as standard as well as cutting edge technology.
It's agile chassis also means the car handles beautifully while the precise steering and grip making it a real driver's car. It is also 7mm shorter, but has a longer wheelbase which means more legroom inside.
It looks pretty sensational, retaining the sleek, coupé-like profile and long bonnet from its predecessor. That should be no surprise because it does not look radically different, with Jag appearing to have adopted a German rivals philosophy of evolution rather than revolution.
The mesh grille is now more vertical than before and the headlight cluster now include the adaptive full-LED technology and Jaguar's signature J-Blade LED daytime running lights.
The eye-catching R-Sport trim inside and out gives it the sporty look although performance on this model is warm, rather than hot.
The interior is luxurious offering the kind of executive goodies, top end business users and private buyers a looking for.
There is a new horizontal architecture to the dash and the the touchscreen system which was looking dated is replaced with a new state of the art infotainment system which controls major functions like connectivity for smart phones, high-end sound system and navigation system.
As for the rest of the cabin, the sculpted seats, high quality soft touch finish to dash and doors and high quality carpets give a true luxury feel.
The interior is light and roomy with that extra legroom for rear passengers and the large 540 litre boot should accommodate most needs.
The 2.0-litre 163ps diesel engine is frugal and with emissions of just 104g/km is clearly an attraction business users with a benefit in kind rating of just 20 per cent. It is flexible and refined with good pull throughout the rev range.
Mated to a slick-six speed gearbox, it accelerates well, from 0-60mph in just 8.2 seconds with a claimed fuel economy of around 70mpg. In real time this showed as nearer 55mpg. Still impressive for such a big car.
Handling is superb and the purists will love the fact this it is a rear wheel drive car, while the ride is as good as it gets, feeling comfortable but composed over even the roughest roads.
It is well kitted out but like all top brands, options can add thousands to the price.
Those available include full-LED headlights, a laser head-up display which delivers high-contrast colour images, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with queue-assist, lane keep-assist, intelligent speed limiter and semi-automated parking, many of which were fitted to the tested model, pushing the £34,200 price tag past £45.000.
Powertrains range from the 163ps Ingenium diesel and six-speed manual to 380ps V6 supercharged petrol and eight-speed automatic transmission.
Jaguar XF R-Sport 2.0 i4
Mechanical: 163ps, 1,999cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving rear wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 132mph
0-62mph: 8.2 seconds
Combined MPG: 70.6
Insurance Group: 32
C02 emissions: 104g/km
Bik rating: 20%
Warranty: 3yrs/100,000 miles
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