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Options unlimited with Jaguar's XF


When Tata Motors took over Jaguar eight years ago, the Indian company must have had a few important decisions to make with the biggest being whether to cut costs to the bone and try to sell on the nameplate, or pump in capital to return the product to where it originated - on the top shelf.

So far they've opted for quality and haven't put a foot wrong. The cars are still designed and built in the UK, but quality has improved considerably.  The latest of their offerings to come my way was the XF  that's offered as an alternative to the BMW 5-Series, Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Lexus GS.

The car delivered was the R-Sport version with a four-cylinder two litre turbodiesel  engine endowed with 132 kW at 4,000rpm and 430 Nm of torque to the rear wheels at between 1 750 and 2 500rpm. Those aren't particularly impressive numbers, but the two litre turbodiesel is, after all, at the bottom of the pecking order in terms of performance and price.

Its 0-100km/h time of 8,1 seconds and top speed of 229km/h (both claimed) are likely to keep most buyers happy. The wide torque band makes the car a joy to drive briskly and the eight-speed automatic transmission doesn't have to work too hard to keep the pace up.

 Jaguar made extensive use of aluminium in this, the current XF that was launched in the UK a year ago, and its kerb weight of 1 595 kg reflects this. That's almost 200 kg lighter than the outgoing model. 

The R-Sport version (R838 660) uses the same engine and transmission as the Prestige model (R765 900) but throws in a body kit, sporty leather seats, sports suspension with stiffer coil springs and sportier dampers, as well as R-Sport badging.

The interior of the car is typically Jaguar with good switchgear and quality trim. There's also the familiar Jaguar gear-mode selection dial that periscopes up and down from the centre console when you switch the ignition on or off.

The test car came with an impressive array of electronic driving aids and comfort and convenience features but the Jaguar SA website is strewn with little asterisks showing them as optional extras. The Active Safety Pack that adds Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist and Driver Condition Monitor as well as Blind Spot Monitor and Reverse Traffic Detection, for instance, adds R32 400 to the price tag. Proceed with caution - they've learnt from the Germans.

I really like the Jaguar XF and the R-Sport version is for me the most attractive. It's lively enough, it handles well, it's comfortable and it is, above all, classy. It's just a pity that more of the most appealing features aren't included in the base price.

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