PH Fleet: Jaguar XF Diesel S

As Jaguar strives to find its niche within the rapid Germanification of the luxury car sector, it's an interesting time to be using an XF Diesel S on a regular basis. I have now covered 3,500 miles in the fastest diesel Jag - even in those few months the relentless pace of model launches from BMW and Audi has seen the monster M550d and Audi's impressive bi-turbo A6 leave the XF's 275hp looking a little second division.

In truth the XF does now feel like the twilight product it actually is - last year's clever facelift has left it looking, to my eyes, very attractive - but it is ageing with uncommon grace and in a strange way its age lends it a sage-like feel from behind the steering wheel. Audi, BMW and Mercedes will offer you more modern, accomplished electronic navigation and general in-car electronics, but for pulse-lowering deportment this car takes some beating.

The low-speed ride issues from a cold start I reported a few weeks back still persist. I am now convinced the dampers need to warm-through on colder mornings. Once at operating temperature the car becomes a firm-riding sporting saloon capable of hitting 0-62mph in a claimed, and believable, 5.9sec. According to the trip computer it will average 39mpg on longer motorway trips. For someone who travels long distances, balancing the personal needs of performance with crippling fuel costs, I have

Ride better when warm but are 20s too much?
Ride better when warm but are 20s too much?
to say it's a hell of a trick. I know the Germans claim to go faster with greater frugality, but to anyone like me accustomed to fuelling and living with V8 petrol-powered machines for several years, this car is a bit of a revelation.

But the petrol boys are fighting back, and I recently averaged 26mpg in the new bi-turbo E63 AMG. To travel at a similar speed in the XF-S sees consumption drop to 33mpg.

I do wish this car's chassis was a little more comfort-biased though. My mate and journalist Andrew Frankel is running the smaller 2.2 diesel XF for Autocar and on its smaller 19-inch wheels and less aggressive spring rates it flows over bad surfaces in a way this car does not. With a lazy 442lb ft and the brilliant eight-speed ZF automatic, the rest of the XF package is perfectly set-up to welcome a pillowy ride. I would love to try a non-Portfolio spec car on the smaller 19-inch wheels, rather than these 20s and their Dunlop tyres.

Depending on your outlook, at night the cabin either defines a brave new Jaguarness, or looks like a Tron-themed brothel. I'm in the first camp. The way the blue LEDs follow trim lines and architecture is a brilliant diversion from the norm. It brings about a serenity and sense of wellbeing missing in any of its rivals. Daytime robs it of the chance to play that trick, but then the rotating air-vents are a good substitute. It all feels slightly cut-price-Rolls-Phantom, and that's meant as a big compliment.

There are frustrations with the control interfaces. The universal touchscreen-jobbie isn't the most intuitive or fastest way to get things done, but once you know its limitations and afford it some patience, it works fine. It also offers one of the best sat-navs for simply inputting UK postcodes and pressing 'go', a function I find very valuable.

The B&W hi-fi is good, if nothing like as impressive as the amazing kit found in the XJ. I'm wrestling with the iPod interface though. If my iPhone is Bluetooth linked to the car, the iPod will play for about 20 seconds then cut out. The upside to this is a (forced) introduction to the wonderful world of BBC 6Music through the optional £300 DAB radio. I don't use the wheel-mounted volume control because my thumb doesn't like its location. This might be the fault of my simian thumbs, so I am actively investigating the situation and will report back.

Plenty to enjoy here and full of character
Plenty to enjoy here and full of character
The seat is a little unsupportive for a shorty like me, and I have never liked the current Jag steering wheel with its five-inch thick 'spoke'. That said, I spent seven hours in the car last Thursday and didn't feel remotely fatigued. This I put down to the XF's one truly remarkable trait, its lack of wind noise. At a motorway cruise, this car is so quiet that Whisper from Live and Let Die would need to lower his voice to avoid startling fellow occupants.

I never opt to select gears manually, partly because the gearbox appears already to be hardwired into my brain, partly because the plastic paddles have the texture of an ice scraper. It's an example of perhaps the XF's biggest problem: if you scratch beneath the surface some of the trim just doesn't match the standard of the German brands. That's not to say it feels badly flimsy, more that the new 5 Series has upped the game standard.

There are several options fitted to this test car. They range from the genuinely useful (that DAB radio and the £240 heated steering wheel) to the completely forgettable £450 'JaguarVoice', all the way down to the drastic depths of the £460 Blind Spot thingy that confidently guided me into the path of a spiritedly driven Luton van. Apologies to the driver.

If the XF Diesel S doesn't quite match those newer rivals, it does pose an interesting question to potential buyers in that it offsets nearly all of its objective inferiority in being so damn attractive too look at and in not being another grey German saloon car - I know, just imagine this particular example isn't metallic grey.

£49,100 is big money, but then traveling in near silence with 442lb ft to blow away dawdlers with the prospect of nearly 40mpg is quite a repertoire. I just wish the ride was sweeter.

2012 Jaguar XF Diesel S
Run by: Chris Harris
On fleet since: March 2012
Mileage: 12,500
List price new: £53,670 (base price £49,110 plus £1,275 for Adaptive Cruise Control with Intelligent Emergency Brake and active seat belts, £460 for Blind Spot Monitor, £240 for heated steering wheel, £700 for digital/analogue TV, £300 for DAB, £275 for heated windscreen with timer, £360 for 60/40 split/fold rear seats, £450 for JaguarVoice and £500 for front parking aid with visual indicator and reversing camera)
Last month at a glance: Still curious about the dampers' cold weather behaviour, mainly impressed by comfort and refinement



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Comments (50) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Garry White 11 May 2012

    I have a 2010 MY XF Portfolio and have had it since new. The car has all of the options available at that time. The car is simply the best car I have ever had. I have had a few too, Mercs, BMW etc. However I have had my XF reprogrammed by DMS (cost £450) and this make s a hell of a performance difference. The Torque is up to 535FT/LB (730 Newton Metres) and the power is 305. It is very much quicker than the XF 'S' right across the performance range. My son has a chipped M3 and my wife a Boxster S. The Jag blows them both away in every aspect except 0-60 type driving. It's not good practice to drive like this in an automatic, but once on the move it goes like hell. If you want performance in a diesel go to DMS (your fule consumption is better too, my will do 45 MPG on a long run providing you keep around 80)

  • tomoleeds 11 May 2012

    the model at watford Jaguar has the extras the same as the one featured here on PH,it cost £53k,
    new, now a 2011 can be bought for £29,450,if you dont have a px i should imagine they would take £28k even at screen price its a loss of £23k , all i am saying is you could buy a 2011 xf portfolio 3.0s and a 2009 Range rover sport for the same price as a new xf portfolio, 3.0s

  • Blown2CV 11 May 2012

    tomoleeds said:
    sorry i was wrong loosing £20k in 18 months is not bad
    Where did you get £20k from? They are about £42k new, so you are over-egging it by not far off double. No-one is saying they don't depreciate more than german marques, but you are clearly committed to giving a wildly bigger impression than the reality.

    Now there are a lot of people on PH that dip into threads talking about cars they don't own (and I'm not what it is that drives them to do so), and regurgitate things they have heard (from their mate dave down the pub who's uncle once knew a bloke who owned one, or it might have been his cousin etc), which are quite often blanket generalisations based on made up or at best 15-degree chinese whispered 'facts'. You only have to speak to the guys on the TVR forums to find out how often this happens.

    I'm going no further with this!

  • tomoleeds 11 May 2012

    sorry i was wrong loosing £20k in 18 months is not bad

  • Blown2CV 11 May 2012

    tomoleeds said:
    Blown2CV said:
    sigh. Post the link will you.
    on e bay, type, Jaguar xf portfolio, then 2011, look on cheapest first,its at watford Jaguar, its 3.0s
    with the expensive blind spot,obviously nav, in liquid silver £29,995 inc vat ,12,000 miles
    I can't find it. Watford jag has a 60 reg which looks like it, but that could be up to 18 months old. I don't know what your point is, because you have gone from saying they depreciate 20 grand in a month to they depreciate about 12k in 18 months. Do you think that means you are still right? Mine had depreciated about 17k in 2 years, which means I believe I got a pretty good deal. It's why I bought it.

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