We drive the cheapest Jaguar money can buy to see if it can take the fight to the established German rivals
Jaguar started assembling cars in its new plant in Pune last year. This was an important step for the Tata owned British Car Company, especially when it comes to the Indian market where imports are taxed heavily and local assembly allows manufacturers to price their products more competitively. Given this the new XF 2.0-litre petrol that you see here is obviously much cheaper than its bigger engined siblings. But, will this new base version of the XF be enough to take on the might of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6 and the BMW 5 Series?
In our opinion the XF has always been one of the prettiest cars on Indian roads. Designing a good looking car is something that Jaguar has always done very well, and the Jaguar XF with its coupe like silhouette and its large, nostalgic, art deco grille certainly makes the average Joe turn around and give the XF another look. It is nearly impossible to differentiate the 2.0-litre petrol variant with the larger engined more expensive variants of the XF until you really start looking at the details.
For starters, the Jaguar XF 2.0 comes with smaller 17-inch wheels wrapped in a set of 235/55 R17 Pirelli tyres. The smaller wheels do take away a bit from the road presence, however, the smaller wheel and larger sidewall aids the ride quality and is certainly advantageous in India’s poor road conditions. The other difference though is at the rear, where the 2.0-litre losses the ‘S’ badge that all other variants come. While the Jaguar XF 2.2-litre diesel version comes with only one exhaust outlet though, the petrol 2.0-litre stays true to its original design and gets a dual exhaust setup which maintains the visual balance of the design.
The 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine, making 240PS of peak power at 5500rpm and 340Nm of peak torque at 1750rpm offers enough power and torque for Indian road conditions. Acceleration feels brisk and Jaguar claims this variant can do 0-100kmph in just 7.9 seconds; an impressive feat for what is essentially the ‘most affordable Jaguar one can buy’. The impressive list of technology continues with Jaguar’s 8-speed gearbox offering impeccable driving finesse both in start-stop traffic and in a brisker highway-driving scenario. The XF 2.0-litre also comes with two driving modes; D, more suited to everyday city driving and S, suited to the more energetic and younger driver that Jaguar is keen to have as its new target audience.
The moment one gets inside a Jaguar XF, one is greeted with one of the most beautiful pieces of interior design to have been fitted on any saloon in recent times. The mechanised air conditioning vents provide an instant sense of drama about an otherwise contemporary and simple looking interior. However, one must not brush aside the simplicity of the Jaguar XF’s interior as a negative factor. The simple design is actually a welcome change from the complex and button cluttered Mercedes, BMW and Audi interiors that usually tend to overwhelm the driver and passengers. However, it is not until the sun sets and the interior lights come on that the true beauty of the XF’s interiors can be appreciated.
The fibre optic blue lighting that makes the interior look like it has been designed more for the world of Tron and less for humans is awe inspiring to say the least. The fantastic rear seats give plenty of lumbar and under thigh support to the passengers while the slightly sporty front seats cocoon the driver adding to the overall confidence inspiring performance stance that the Jaguar luxury saloon are known for.
The Jaguar XF 2.0-litre also has one of the best chassis setups in its segment. While the ride is plush and comfortable under most normal conditions, the XF is pretty sharp when thrown into bends and inspires enough confidence to push what is essentially a big luxury car to the limit. The smaller wheels and larger sidewall tyres do help a lot when it comes to passenger comfort damping out most of the bumps and undulations; however, there are always hints of a sporty side, something Jaguar prides itself upon. The steering too, although slightly heavier at first, feels extremely precise and potent offering a perfect blend of sporty yet comfortable driving. In fact, the Jaguar XF 2.0-litre, in our opinion is possibly the best blend of luxury and performance when it comes to sheer vehicular dynamism.
With a design that makes heads turn, interiors that make one want to stay inside the XF forever, a petrol engine that offers oodles of creamy power and a mouth watering price of Rs 48.56 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai), the 2014 Jaguar XF 2.0-litre is certainly a very worthy alternative to several of the German executive saloons. And with more snob-value and ‘exclusivity’ than many rivals, the XF is certainly worth considering, especially because it really is one of the best all round packages on sale today.