By on February 17, 2016

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There’s something unique about Jaguars. For some people it’s the aristocratically British character, sporty pedigree and classic, elegant style of Jaguars that make them special. For others it’s the strange technical solutions, uncomfortable compromises and utter lack of reliability that make Jaguars a non-option.

These two groups aren’t likely to agree about much when it comes to Britain’s luxury marque, but both camps will likely be of the opinion that a four-cylinder diesel engine doesn’t fit the driving experience emoted by Jaguar’s iconic Leaper.

Will the upcoming Jaguar XF 2.0-liter diesel still be a proper Jag? Or will its stops at oily diesel pumps also frequented by Ford Super Duty pickups and NOx-belching Volkswagens cover the brand’s grand sporting image in a thin layer of soot?

We already have it in Europe, so I took the opportunity to find out.

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Now is the time to say that I’ve always been in the aforementioned first camp. I love Jaguars. In the beginning, I loved them because they were the paragon of Britishness; a classic, four-eyed XJ saloon perfectly complemented the country-manor-home-and-tweed-jacket anglophile version of myself which I’d always dreamed.

Later, when I dug deeper in the brand’s history and character, I realized how deeply flawed the notion was of a Jaguar as a sedate, old man’s car. I learned more about the brand’s racing heritage and found out just how sporty were the brand’s classic models.

Shortly thereafter, I drove one or two examples and I bought one of my own: a beautiful, white ’79 Jaguar XJ6L. About the same time, I started to abhor the retro styling of the then-current generation of Jags. When I did a comparison test of my Series II with a brand-new X350 XJ 2.7 diesel, I loved that the new XJ kept the traditional sporty-yet-compliant suspension. I even liked its diesel torque generator, which was surprisingly refined and offered dynamics similar to my 4.2-liter XK-series inline-six — the only difference being 15 mpg. But I hated the bodywork. It looked like someone skinned a cat, then put the skin on a bulldog.

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So when the first XF came out, I loved it. Finally, a Jag that looked as dynamic and modern as the original XJ did in 1968. If you peeked at it from the right angle, the hood had exactly the same lines as my XJ. And each new Jag was better. The new XJ is a bit weird, but majestic in its weirdness. The F-Type is maybe even prettier than the E-Type. The new XE is probably the most fetching compact executive sedan on the market. And the new XF looks even better than this one.

In theory, the XF 2.0d should be a perfect executive sedan in many ways. It’s one of the most gorgeous, leanest and most sporty-looking cars in its class. Being Jaguar, it should pamper you with a compliant suspension, yet offer great handling at the same time. But does it really work as it should?

The first thing I noticed when behind the XF’s wheel was how different the new cabin feels. While the old XF was quite roomy and airy, the new car feels tight and cozy and quite a bit sportier. It’s true that all the first-generation sedans I sat in had beige interiors and this one is black, but the difference is deeper than color. The car is lower inside and, while you have enough space in all directions, it feels like it was tailored tightly around you.

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Someone at Jaguar remembered the old, second-generation XJs – the XJ40, and especially the X300 and X308 of the 1990s — and decided to inject a bit of that soul into the new XF. Some of it’s the details — like the window between the C and D pillars. More crucially, the XF seems to be designed from the outside in, with good looks and a lean profile prioritized over space for people, but not so much that space is lacking. It’s a far cry from a Mercedes E-Class or BMW 5 Series, but you can fit grown adults in the back behind grown adults sitting in the front. That was not always the case with cars like the X308 XJR.

Naturally, you’d expect the XF to offer a sporty drive. After all, Jaguar is now aimed toward BMW’s abandoned driver’s car niche, which the Bavarian automaker vacated in pursuit of becoming a luxury lifestyle brand that builds 500-horsepower executive golf carts. Your expectations are nothing if not fulfilled. As I left town to head into the hills, the Jag behaved almost exactly as anticipated. It was not as compliant and comfortable as my old XJ, but neither were XJs from ’90s. The XF’s suspension could even be considered taut, and only became jittery once the speedo hit triple digits of miles per hour.

Most importantly, though, the XF feels light-footed and agile in the twisties, and much smaller than the current BMW 5 series (F10) or Audi A6. There’s no comparing the current E-Class to the Jag — and based on experience with the current C220d, there’s no reason to think the upcoming W213 E-Class will be any more of a driver’s car.

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If you want an executive sedan that’s also a rewarding car to drive in a spirited manner; if you prefer sleek looks to interior space; if you’re willing to forgo some of the Germanic gadgets and latest tech, the XF is the perfect car for you. It’s everything classic Jaguars were, and, in a way, it serves to fill the BMW’s old position, while BMW itself is trying to become something else altogether. Cadillac, I guess.

Now, you are probably wondering why I am doing European review of a first diesel Jaguar to come to American shores, and not mention the fuel-sipping miracle of an engine? Well, it’s because I am not really eager to even remember it, much less talk about it. But I will, now. And it won’t be pretty.

The 2.0d engine with 180 horsepower (a 163 hp version is also available in Europe) is part of the new Ingenium engine family, which makes the engine even more disappointing. Before driving the XF, I didn’t do my homework, and came out of the car certain the diesel was an old boat anchor borrowed from a 10-year-old Ford Mondeo Estate. It wasn’t. This engine is one of the cornerstones supporting the hopes and dreams of Jaguar’s future.

And it doesn’t really work. On paper, it looks great. On the road, as long as you’re just put-putting around, it’s okay. But push the pedal harder, and you’re reminded that this cat drinks diesel. The 180 hp diesel isn’t exactly a powerhouse, and it feels a bit strained to move the massive, aluminum-bodied XF around. Even if the engine was superbly refined, much of the joy from driving the big cat would be lost as you can’t exploit its great chassis to its full potential.

But the real trouble is that the engine lacks anything resembling refinement. Not in the not-refined-enough-for-a-premium-executive-car sense, either. When I switched to a Volkswagen Touran 2.0 TDI later that day, I found that — while its engine may be killing fluffy animals all day long — it sounds smooth and relatively quiet. The XF 2.0d is slightly coarse in normal, relaxed driving and gets more clattery when pushed. In comparison, a Mazda6 2.2d is quick, effortless and sounds lovely.

This won’t be a great problem for many European drivers. Here, the 178 hp diesel is powerful enough to perform most daily duties without digging too deep into its power and rpm levels that induce the noise. But Americans drive differently and use a lot more power. Jaguar’s diesel may clatter it to death.

Overall, the XF is a great car, but if I could only afford it with 2.0d engine, I’d probably just buy the aforementioned Mazda6 or Fusion/Mondeo instead. The 2.0-litre XF diesel is a frustrating experience. Every time you start it, it reminds you that you were too cheap to buy a proper, six-cylinder Jag.

[Images: Viola Procházková/The Truth About Cars]

Vojta Dobes is motoring journalist from Czech Republic who previously worked for local editions of Autocar and TopGear magazines. Today, he runs his own website, www.Autickar.cz. After a failed adventure with importing classic American cars to Europe, he is utterly broke, so he drives an Alfa 164 Diesel he got for free. His previous cars included a 1988 Caprice in NYC Taxi livery, a hot-rodded Opel Diplomat, two Dodge Coronets, a Simca, a Fiat 600 and Austin Maestro. He has never owned a diesel, manual wagon.

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45 Comments on “European First Drive: Jaguar XF 2.0d...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “For some people it’s the aristocratically British character, sporty pedigree and classic, elegant style of Jaguars that make them special.”

    Well that WAS their appeal. With aluminum trim and black wheels and lame styling, they lost it about 2010. There should never be a flag on ANY Jag unless it’s a Union Jack enamel badge. Certainly not a checkered race flag.

    Edit:
    Look at the cheapness of that fake carbon fiber aluminum!
    Look at the uneven nature of the stitching at the back of the front seat!
    Look how the door pull doesn’t line up properly and is sticking out a bit!
    And the interior in general looks like crap.

    I’m mad.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Yea, the blackout look was lame on the Pontiacs and Dodges of yore. I think it is weird that European makes have seemingly embraced it so much.

      And a blackout/red accent diesel Jaguar is just painfully tacky. Like a Maliase Era muscle car with loud stickers and a 105hp V6.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Yuck!

        Oh you’ll like this. I didn’t have my phone on me so I couldn’t photograph. I was at a nice lunch place for work, and in the parking lot was a gen 1 modern Charger, in dusty blue. It had upper and lower silver stripes added on at some point later. At the lower edge of the lower stripe, the following was “cut out” from the silver, showing the blue underneath.

        B.SMOOVE

        Sums up the current market for FCA perfectly.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      “Look at the cheapness of that fake carbon fiber aluminum!”

      That is the first thing I noticed. It looks like designers couldn’t decide if they wanted fake aluminum or fake carbon fiber…so they did both.

      The fake textured aluminum in my Golf looks more convincing than that, and it is probably the third of this cars price.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I wish I had your fake aluminum trim in my Golf SportWagen. The S and SE specifications come with the aluminum trim, but VW decided that we SEL buyers want piano-black trim that shows fingerprints and dust like no other.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Piano black trim
          Black fridge
          Black stove

          No-no’s, all round.

          • 0 avatar
            ponchoman49

            I know a guy who spent a vast fortune on updating his kitchen with black appliances, black granite counter top, black stove and dark gray back splash. It was so depressing and dark and within 6 months looks like utter crap with all the finger prints and marks. Never ever!

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      It’s not like Jaguars of yore had impeccable fit-and-finish…

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Yeah but – heavy leather and nice walnut are harder to do exact since they’re real materials (hand assembled somewhat?). This has badly fitted plastic done by a machine! :D

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Oh dear, I just remembered what this Jag’s fake aluminum dash strip and vent remind me of:

      http://www.thecarconnection.com/image/100297254_2008-suzuki-forenza-4-door-sedan-auto-dashboard

      FORENZA!!

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Agreed. The corny knob shifter is also a design disaster cribbed from FCA that has no place in this car. This is far from being a proper Jag!

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    The rough and modestly powered engine appears to be a very poor match for an expensive near-lux sedan in America. We hardly buy any diesels, though, so this car’s success will be determined by its gas variants. Comparing the widely differing approaches employed by BMW and Cadillac in the market segment and their respective sales, I don’t see this XF putting Jaguar back on the map here, even if it is a delight to drive.

    The exterior styling of this car looks great, but the interior is a bit disappointing. To me it doesn’t have much personality, and that fat lazy band of fake aluminum on the dash isn’t doing anything for me.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    “For some people it’s the aristocratically British character, sporty pedigree and classic, elegant style of Jaguars that make them special.”

    Ah, the X-type. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaguar_X-Type#/media/File:2004-2006_Jaguar_X-Type_%28X400%29_SE_sedan_%282011-06-15%29_01.jpg)

    I kid because I love.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    I’ve read that this motor isn’t doing as well as expected in Europe. Customers prefer the 2.0 gasoline engine. Running costs aren’t much higher.

    Anybody who hasn’t driven a modern European diesel, here’s the deal: they feel like a gas turbo engine until around 3,500, and then they roll over and die. Lots of torque but nothing up top.

    Jaguar should send us the 2.0T gas burner over instead of the diesel. The only downside is that people would complain that it’s “only a 4,” which isn’t a psychological issue with the diesel. You expect a diesel to run rough.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      The fascination with diesels really confuses me. They are awful. The fact that next to nobody chooses them in the US, where we have no draconian taxes or limitations on engines, kind of says it all IMO.

      • 0 avatar

        They aren’t ‘awful’. I have driven lots of diesels, and they are nice in some situations. Their plentiful torque often reduces the need to shift compared to their gas equivalents, which can be nice when you’ve been driving on curvy roads for hours. They are also great highway cruisers.

        The reason diesel *was* more popular is because it was cheaper (country dependant) and offered some benefits in terms of drivability and fuel economy. Gas engines have improved a lot in recent years, make the difference less distinct, and as the benefits related to pricing disappear the costs in terms of pollution become more evident.

        In other words, if you don’t understand why diesel is popular, it’s just because you haven’t bothered to look into the markets or drive them much. Nobody uses in them in the US because fuel is, on the whole, much cheaper, and people don’t think about fuel economy as much.

  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    In Europe, most of the motor tax you pay every year is based on CO2, so most up-market cars are not available with gasoline engines – nobody can afford them.I was looking at a 4 year old Ford-engined diesel XF today, and the tax class was as cheap as our diesel Accord (TSX to you).Nobody would buy an S-Class Merc or a 5-Series BMW with a gasoline engine.A 520d BMW goes very quickly, uses very little fuel, and costs very little in tax.
    As for the XF – it looks nice on the outside, but can you buy it with a gear-stick and a handbrake? I don’t think so…

    • 0 avatar
      Jagboi

      Nobody wants a manual transmission in a Jaguar, even in Europe. When Jaguar offers it, the sales rate is between 3-5% manual, 95-97% automatic.

      In relation to this article, In Europe the previous generation XF sales was 95% diesel, 5% gasoline. As mentioned, nobody can afford to run a 5.0 gasoline engine in Europe. I think the authors opinion would be vastly different if he had the 3.0V6 D, instead of the 2.0. The 3.0 is a very nice engine and having driven it back to back with the 5.0 gas (not supercharged though) I’d pick the 3.0D.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    The only place a 2.0L anything looks good on paper is on a motorcycle.

  • avatar

    This car looks identical to the Lincoln Continental and new MKZ. Ford seems to have a habit lately of stealing grill designs of British designs. No wonder Rolls Royce is outraged by Ford. Is Ford capable of original designs.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    As the former owner of a Series III XJ6, I just can’t get excited about this car’s looks. I just don’t see any Jaguar in it. Maybe it’s better in person.

  • avatar
    stroker49

    I’ve been many times to many different states in the USA (love it), I don’t understand what you mean by “But Americans drive differently and use a lot more power”? Power to run the A/C maybe? In most countries in Europe we accelerates harder and drives way faster than in the USA. Even if Ca is more like Europe nowadays than Virginia.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    In Europe, going diesel gets you lighter registration and fuel taxes, sure, but it also gets you something else: the ability to daily-drive a manual-transmission car in heavy traffic without wanting to shoot yourself. Since Europeans inexplicably cling to manuals like American rednecks to guns, this is handy. I drove a VW TDI passenger van across French and Spanish countryside, often forgetting to shift the damn thing out of sixth gear when slowing from 100 kph to a crawl for a roundabout…and so torquey was my little people-mover that it merrily pulled right along anyway.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Europeans will buy lots of these Jags with this engine because it’s got the lowest co2s in the class, is the most efficient and offers the best performance (relative to the aforementioned efficiency). And in Europe that sells cars. In the USA the big sellers will be the high performance engines because your government won’t beat you up for buying one.

    And let’s face it the car Jaguar is really focused on for the USA is the F pace. And that car will see big sales increases for the Coventry marque

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    So the Jaguar XF with a 4 cylinder engine is absolutely shockingly short of a proper luxury sedan, and the new Cadillac CT6 with a joke of a base 2.0T 4 banger (and a thrashing, unrefined, unreliable one, at that) is even worse.

    *Not that the ubiquitous GM 3.6 liter V6 in the CT6 will be that much more refined or “luxurious” in Cadillac’s new “Mercedes fighter.”

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      The CT6 with the 4 cylinder goes 0-60 in 6.1 seconds. It is not underpowered by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. The car is lighter than a base 5 series or E-class. I don’t know if the engine is thrashy or not; I haven’t driven one. But bitching that it’s underpowered because “OMG 4 cylinder in a Cadillac” is completely off base.

      And the ubiquitous 3.6L in the CT6 is a brand new engine that has only been in Cadillacs so far, though it will likely replace the old 3.6 in other cars soon.

      The base CT6 is 3657 pounds. The 2016 RWD XF (with 3.0L supercharged V6) weighs 3770 despite aluminum construction and being one size class smaller than the CT6 (the Cadillac is 9 inches longer with a 5.9 inch longer wheelbase).

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Some tests of both the new Camaro and a 3.6 equipped CTS stated that the new LGX is noticeably more refined than the old LFX which is good news. Judging from a new CT6 at the car show it is light years nicer than this economy car looking Jag so there is no comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Blah Blah Blah.

      Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah.

      Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah.

      Both the GM 2.0T and GM 3.6 (current & next gen) are mediocre engines, at best, and wholly unfit to be installed into any vehicle remotely advertised/promoted as a premium or luxury product (and they have reliability/durability issues to add insult to injuryZ0.

      Same old fukkin’ incompetent General Motors & Cadillac, different day/year.

      The CT6 is going to fail in spectacular fashion.

      A 34k real world pricing Chevy Impala will be as smooth/refined as it, and cannibalize it from below, and the Germans and likes of Lexus will decimate it from above.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    On first glancing at that rear shot of the XF I thought “Oooh Acura has finally come out with a TSX replacement”! So boring, so not a Jag.


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