BMW 530d Road Test: The Driver's Seat
- Apr 26, 2018
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A whole battalion of brats no older than 8 years ran towards the car yelling 'JAGUAR!', as I entered the premises of my building. While I attempted to park it, the kids ran around it yelling, drowning out the beeps of the parking sensors. The Jaguar XF has oodles of presence, and an uncanny ability to command respect. That’s a big plus right off the bat.
Delve deeper, and you realise that the Jaguar XF is thoroughly likeable as a package. It is hard to digest that this is in fact, an all-new model generation. The evolutionary approach to design has been executed perfectly, and it now sits in line with the new XE and the updated XJ. The new face is angry, and I like the fact that the Pure variant's grille isn't drenched in chrome like the top-spec Portfolio. Then there's the roofline that gently tapers down towards the C-pillar. I particularly like how the new XF looks from the rear three-quarters. The new taillamps have a hint of F-Type and the blacked-out diffuser does enough to break the slab of colour. There's no overdose of chrome too, just a neat line that connects the two large taillamps. If I absolutely had to nitpick, I'm not too fond of the fact that it looks too similar to its younger sibling - the XE.
The Jag manages to draw a lot of attention, even in this rather plain-jane shade of white. I've pottered around town in cars that belong to the same segment, but have seldom seen so many eyes fixated on the car. If you like being the centre of attention, the XF is more than happy to strut its stuff. There are only a couple of interesting colour options, though, which include Caesium Blue, British Racing Green and Italian Racing Red. Most other options which include a wide variety of greys and silver, which, in my opinion, don't do justice to the lovely design.
It is a low-slung car, so getting in and out isn't the easiest affair. It will feel a tad too low for the elderly, which oddly enough, will make up for most of the target clientele. Nonetheless, step inside and you're welcomed by a thoroughly revamped cabin. Quality, fit and finish are fantastic, even in the base-spec version. Save for the little plastic panel near the rear-view mirror that vibrated and made a noise, everything is well put together. Goodies include electric-adjust for the front occupants, dual-zone climate control and Jaguar's 'InControl Touch' 8-inch touchscreen command centre. Then, there are the usual Jaguar theatrics - the start-stop button gets a pulsating red light, the rotary knob rises up when you thumb the starter and the air vents rotate into position. These little details do make you feel like you're inside something that's 'special'.
Hop over onto the rear bench, and it feels plush too. To negate the swooping roofline, Jaguar has carved out the headliner. Space is hardly a bother, but the high-set transmission tunnel effectively makes the XF a four-seater in our books. Other than the rear-AC vents taking time to cool the rear half of the cabin, we had no issues imagining ourselves sitting cross-legged reading the finance supplement, looking worried about our stock portfolio.
We'd gladly be chauffeur-driven in the Jaguar. The ride is fantastic at low speeds, and any irregularity in the road surfaces are dismissed without a hiccup. I'd partially credit the smaller 17-inch wheels (and their massive sidewalls) for this. It remains to be seen how the 19s fare in a similar setup. Even when the XF picks up pace, the cabin remains composed, but there's a hint of float from the soft-set rear suspension. Insulation is well taken care of, with very little noise seeping into the cabin. No tyre noise, no wind noise and surprisingly, no engine noise as well.
Surprising, because the Jaguar has a badge that reads '20d' which means there's a diesel engine under the hood. The four-cylinder motor has been developed in-house at JLR and features an all-aluminium setup. Of course, the diesel clatter remains (and is particularly audible on a cold start) but it settles down into a smooth idle very quickly. This is courtesy the twin balancer shafts and the stiffer block, that manage to cut off vibration at source. It is evidently quieter than, say, a 2.0-litre diesel from BMW, but is equally laidback too. Jaguar clearly has high hopes with this motor, as they have spent over £500 million to develop the manufacturing facility for the engine. The new engine also powers the new XE as well as the F-Pace SUV. Not only that, Jaguar is banking on the same Ingenium architecture to revive its legendary inline-six engine lineup.
On paper, the figures are in the same ballpark as its German rivals, at 180PS and 430Nm. However, the motor feels like it is in no hurry to get going and prefers wafting at a leisurely pace. The fact that it clocked a 0-100kmph time of 10.31 seconds only cements that feeling. This is also because the 8-speed gearbox feels confused at part throttle, and stutters for a bit before picking the right gear. That said, shifts are smooth and barely noticeable. It gets much quicker when in Sports mode, which we recommend you use generously if there's a lot of overtaking on the agenda. Also, switch over to Dynamic mode while you are at it. Throttle response is crisper and the gearbox holds on to the cogs a bit longer to let you zip through expressway traffic. For the daily drive, Eco or Normal works just as well. The fourth mode sets the car up for low traction conditions like rain, ice or snow.
The steering and the brakes do a swell job of obeying your orders. The wheel is chatty enough to let you flick it around but feels slightly vague when tracking straight. It is well weighted, though, and will give you enough confidence to hold on to triple digit speeds all day long. Fast paced corners are met with a hint of body roll, and the rear suspension bobbing about. Of course, you can press and hold the traction control off button to have some tail out action. While it does give you a little giggle every now and then, you simply won't feel like stitching corners one after the other like you would in a 5 Series. How we wish the bigger 3.0-litre diesel was on offer! The four-pot engine is fantastic if you need nothing but a point-to-point commuter. It is refined, can cruise comfortably all day long and is efficient too. Inside the city, the XF returned a healthy 14kmpl, and that figure shot up to 17.38kmpl on the highway test. Admittedly, it won't cater to the whims of the enthusiast, but we're a hard lot to please anyway.
Prices for the XF start at Rs 49.50 lakh for the base-spec version ‘Pure’ version you see in the pictures. The equipment list doesn’t feature a reverse camera or LED headlamps or the swanky 19-inch wheels. There’s no sunroof either, the touchscreen infotainment is smaller and you miss out on the full LCD instrument cluster as well. While it still looks and feels like a proper Jaguar, we recommend you scribble a larger amount on the cheque book and opt for the mid-spec Prestige variant at least.
The all-new Jag scores big in terms of sheer presence and has an air of exclusivity to it - making it stand out among the trio of German rivals. The efficient motor and the comfortable ride make its case even stronger. We will have to put it up head-to-head against the Audi A6, the BMW 5 Series, the Mercedes E-Class and the Volvo S90 to establish a pecking order. But, that said, everything seems one notch better with the new XF, and among the biggest reasons to put your money on one, includes the fact that it is a Jaguar.