Jaguar: Subtle power
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If it ain't broke, don't fix it? Jaguar's clearly a convert. So you must be a real anorak to spot the differences between this sleek-and-sexy XF and its predecessor: a new alloy wheel design, and subtle rear spoiler. Plus, of course, a more powerful diesel engine - in two levels of tune.
Diesel's good news for power junkies - and I should know. Last year I spent two weeks with the V8 XF and I loved it, but it was a petrol-guzzling dipsomaniac that sucked my wallet dry.
Not so this time. This 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel replaces the earlier 2.7, and comes with 177kW and 500Nm, or 202kW and 600Nm; that's 33 per cent more power and a more frugal thirst.
Naturally, it's the latter S car I chose, and though it fields fewer kilowatts than the normally aspirated V8, it boasts a lot more torque. Yes, it's 0.7seconds slower from zero to 100. But there's phenomenal shove off the line, yet it drinks little more than half the fuel of that V8. Hmmm.
Initial impressions in the real world weren't as good as those on-paper figures suggest, the XF's initial response a little too relaxed for my tastes. But select "sport" on the six-speed auto transmission - or change manually - and she certainly perks up.
At first she still didn't feel that quick, but the effortless delivery's deceiving. Great creamy seams of urge pour to those rear wheels, and almost before you realise it you are travelling very rapidly indeed.
That on-road composure comes in part from this car's sweet-handling chassis and comfort-oriented ride; it'll smoothly deliver a rapid rate of knots almost without your being aware of it - impressive indeed.
As is the cabin. It's the same blend of classic and modern; very much a Jaguar. And I dare you to get tired of the way the start button throbs as you enter, the air vents swivel open while the gear dial rises as she fires.
This car makes you feel special, every time.
Mind you, keyless start without keyless entry feels a little odd; if you've got to handle the key you might as well stick it in an ignition. But everything else just works, from the multi-function information centre on down. Though she did drink more than the claim - not unexpected given my continual flirtation with the torque peak.
Is this $134,990 car worth 15 grand more than its less powerful diesel sibling? After all, the lower-priced vehicle is the same, bar its smaller wheels, lack of S badge - and the reduced grunt.
I can't answer that, but either way, this much torque, using this little fuel, and supplied in such a comfortable and stylish car is quite an achievement.
Jaguar XF 3.0D S
The gorgeous design is a blend of classic and modern; hoon-pleasing torque and nana-cosseting comfort combo.
We don't like
Why is there no keyless entry along with the keyless start? The boot is roomy, but shallow.
3.0-litre twin turbo V6, 202kW at 4000rpm, 600Nm at 2000rpm. The six-speed auto drives the rear wheels.
0-100km/h in 6.4 seconds, 6.8l/100km
Six airbags, pedestrian contact sensing and deployable bonnet, ABS, stability control
What it's got
Satnav, Bluetooth, 10-way adjust leather seats, leather cabin trim, cruise control, auto climate air
4961mm long, 500 litre boot, 64-litre tank