Jaguar XF R-Sport

2.0 i4

Jaguar XF, front
Jaguar XF, front
Jaguar XF, side
Jaguar XF, dashboard
Jaguar XF, rear
Jaguar XF, rear
Jaguar XF, boot
Jaguar XF, rear
Jaguar XF, rear seats

MORE than any other model it was the XF that reinvented the Jaguar brand almost ten years ago.

Traditionally the saloon car of choice for mid to high ranking British executives there was always something special about a Jaguar, to the point where it was genuinely believed they didn't need to change much.

Jaguar stuck to a tried and tested formula for what many would say was far too long.

There was certainly something about that distinctive profile and those opulent interiors that combined wood, leather and chunky dials and switches that was classy - in a country club on wheels kind of way - but Jaguar risked becoming an automotive dinosaur if it didn't move with the times.

Wind the clock back not that far to when it was making the X-Type, S-Type and XJ and you had a trio of saloons that were still essentially employing the design language developed by Sir William Lyons.

Design supreme Ian Callum brought Jaguar kicking and screaming into the 21st century with the original XF and it has never looked back since.

There may be a slight irony in that given how daringly different the original XF was the second generation version doesn't differ too radically from it.

You need to look closely to see how it has been freshened up and given a more modern look.

One of its Jaguar firsts is that it utilises LED headlamps and another first is that a manual option is offered for the first time on an XF.

One of the really big changes on this latest XF is the car's structure, with aluminium used extensively in its construction, in line with a Jaguar Land Rover drive to get more of the lightweight metal in all its vehicles.

The weight saving is considerable - it's a whopping 190kg lighter than its predecessor.

The original XF, which was actually based on the mechanics of the S-Type, offered a really decent drive and its successor improves on it.

It's down to a combination of factors but that weight-saving regime has to be key among them.

The aluminium chassis and extensive use of the metal throughout, gives the XF a really nimble and agile feel and it handles wonderfully well.

On the inside it is bigger than its predecessor and it offers significantly more legroom for rear seat passengers - a previous shortcoming. It also has a cavernous 540-litre boot.

There are four trim levels: Prestige, R-Sport, Portfolio and S and equipment levels are generous, with even an entry-level model getting Bluetooth, sat nav, USB, DAB radio, heated electric leather seats, cruise control and dual-zone climate control.

In terms of engines the emphasis is very much on diesel. There's a 296bhp 3.0-litre diesel V6 with a similarly sized 3.0-litre petrol option for purists.

Diesel power also comes courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover's Midlands-made Ingenium engine, with the choice of two power variants - either 161bhp or 178bhp, both of which deliver a great blend of performance, economy and low emissions.

This was the higher powered version mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

I've previously driven the lower powered version in manual guise and though it felt far from under-powered I confess I far prefer the auto to the manual.

Maybe I'm in part still a bit awestruck by the James Bond style JaguarDrive Selector which rises out of the centre console and rotates to change gear.

This was actually pioneered on the original XF but has now been rolled out across the Jaguar Land Rover Range. Amazingly it still has a really contemporary look and feel.

FAST FACTS

Jaguar XF R-Sport 2.0 i4

Price: £39,050

Mechanical: 178bhp, 1,999cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving rear wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 142mph

0-62mph: 7.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 65.7

Insurance Group: 32

C02 emissions: 114g/km

Bik rating: 22%

Warranty: 3yrs/100,000 miles

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