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First drive: Jaguar aims low with XF 2.2D

Fuel sipper: The new price-leader of Jaguar's XF range - the 2.2D - uses a frugal 5.4 litres of diesel per 100km.

Facelifted XF sedan range arrives with four-cylinder diesel power and sub-$80k price

12 Oct 2011

JAGUAR’S most efficient model ever has arrived in Australia, where its low 5.4L/100km combined fuel consumption figure will help make the new 2.2D the cheapest XF ever sold here.

Powered by a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine, the first four-cylinder XF headlines an upgraded 12MY range that arrives in local showrooms on October 24, more than three years after the sleek new XF replaced the S-Type as Jaguar’s large sedan offering.

Pricing for the rest of the 12MY XF range will be announced later this week, when Jaguar Australia will reveal a reshuffled line-up of V6 petrol and diesel and V8 petrol and supercharged XFR variants with pricing and specification to compete more aggressively with their most direct German rivals.

Apart from the 2.2D, pricing has been confirmed only for the supercharged XFR range-topper, which rises from $207,905 to $210,990.

For now, Jaguar is firmly focused on the entry-level XF 2.2D, which is now the British brand’s most affordable model at a nationwide driveaway price of $84,990, fitted with satellite-navigation (normally $2495) but not metallic paint ($2780).

While a better equipped XF 2.2D Premium Luxury version is also available for $86,100, the base 2.2D Luxury arrives with a manufacturer’s list price of just $78,900 plus on-road costs – almost $15,000 less than the least expensive Jaguar currently available, the XF 3.0 V6 ($93,815).

More importantly, the new XF diesel-four is $4400 cheaper than its two fiercest German rivals – the BMW 520d and Mercedes-Benz E220 CDI sedan, which both open their respective 5 Series and E-class model ranges at $83,300 plus on-road costs.

6 center imageWith diesels accounting for almost half of all luxury car sales in Australia, Jaguar expects the first sub-$80,000 XF to attract a raft of new customers to the brand, and to bring back buyers of the discontinued X-Type mid-size sedan – at least those who purchased premium versions, or the base model before run-out pricing was slashed to less than $50,000.

Jaguar Australia brand manager Kevin Goult said the XF 2.2D has allowed the British brand, which has always traded on its exclusivity, to lower its price boundary to let more people in.

“Yes, the Jaguar brand is an exclusive club,” he said. “What we want to do is increase the number of members in it. That exclusivity remains, but we want more customers and we know how to target them.

“We’re heading to a broader demographic. Diesel addresses 46 per cent of a market we haven’t been able to target as a demographic. We all know who they are – the German trio – but the XF 2.2D gives us the opportunity to talk to them.” Spearheading the midlife makeover for the XF that includes a number of technical and cosmetic upgrades inside and out, the 2.2D represents the third entry-level price reduction for the XF since it was introduced here in April 2008 with a base price of $109,450 for the 3.0 V6 petrol version.

The 3.0D became the first sub-$100,000 diesel XF last September, when it arrived with less equipment than the $116,250 XF S Diesel, while the new 3.0 V6 petrol variant lowered base XF pricing by $12,000 to $93,900 in July 2010.

Jaguar will not reveal its sales ambitions for the new 2.2D or revised 12MY XF line-up, other than to say it expects “big changes to customer and retail numbers”, but says it expects a strong proportion of conquest sales as well as more business buyers.

“I’d like to think we’ll see buyers from the German brands including Volkswagen, but we’re also now within reach of customers of homegrown brands – buyers of top-end Falcons and Commodores,” said Mr Goult.

To September this year, Jaguar has sold 386 XFs in Australia – 7.5 per cent up on 2010 figures – helping the brand to a five per cent overall sales increase excluding the X-Type. Including the X-Type, Jaguar Australia sales are down 31.4 per cent, thanks in part to a 30 per cent decline in sales of the two-door XK, which also receives a facelift and price cut this month.

In comparison, 5 Series sales are up almost 40 per cent to 1042, A6 sales are up 29.4 per cent to 528, E-class sales are down 33.8 per cent to 1122 and supply-restricted Lexus GS sales have slumped 46.1 per cent to just 69, in a $70,000-plus luxury large-car segment that is down 1.2 per cent and also includes the 5 Series GT, Benz CLS, A7, Volvo S80, Honda Legend, Saab 9-5 and Citroen C6.

On paper, the 2.2D is a competitive proposition, its optimised Jaguar Land Rover-developed long-stroke 2.179-litre AJ-i4D engine offering 140kW of power at 3500rpm and some 450Nm of torque from just 2000rpm, to deliver 0-100km/h acceleration in 8.5 seconds and a 225km/h top speed.

Matched as standard with the same ZF eight-speed automatic transmission that is now seen in the 3.0 V6 diesel and (S) petrol models – but in this case accompanied by Jaguar’s debut automatic idle-stop system – the rear-drive XF 2.2D returns combined fuel consumption of just 5.4L/100km and CO2 emissions of 149g/km.

That is not far off the 5.0L/100km and 133g/km efficiency figures of the upcoming Range Rover Evoque with a similar (110kW) engine in base 2WD six-speed manual guise.

More significantly, although the new Lexus GS will not arrive until next year, the XF 2.2D offers more performance than the 2.0-litre eight-speed 520d (135kW/380Nm) and 2.1-litre five-speed E220 CDI (125kW/400Nm), while being slightly less efficient than the former (5.2L/100km) but more efficient than the latter (5.9L/100km).

The cheapest XF is not quite as quick as the BMW (0-100 in 8.1 seconds), but will outperform this month’s new 2.0 TDI version of Audi’s latest A6, which is fitted with a seven-speed CVT auto, delivers 125kW/350Nm to its front wheels, returns 5.8L/100km and 153g/km and can hit 100km/h in 8.9 seconds.

Both versions of the XF diesel-four, which comes with staggeringly long 26,000km major service intervals, also stacks up well in terms of specification, come standard with 17-inch alloy wheels and leather/Alcantara seats (both of which are absent in the E220 CDI), plus Xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights.

Dubbed ‘J-Blade’ and first seen on the 2007 C-XF concept, the latter form a signature hook-shaped styling element within each reshaped headlight of the facelifted XF, all examples of which also bring a more aggressive front bumper with more upright chromed mesh grille, a new bonnet, triangular side vents, LED tail-lights and a chromed rear valance that does away with ‘JAGUAR’ lettering, leaving only a bootlid Leaper badge to reveal the car’s maker.

There is no change to the XF’s below-par four-star Euro NCAP safety rating, but as we reported when the 12MY model debuted at the New York motor show in April, other new additions includes softer-touch XJ-style interior switchgear, new seat designs, a new full-colour TFT instrument panel with additional digital speedo, a new hard-drive infotainment system including colour seven-inch touchscreen and 30GB audio storage, Bluetooth audio streaming and an optional new 1200-Watt 17-speaker Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system.

For a further $7200, the XF Premium Luxury adds full leather trim, satellite-navigation, blue interior mood lighting, different 17-inch alloy wheels and rosewood veneer inserts (a $320 option on the Luxury, which comes with satin American walnut trim).

As part of Jaguar’s strategy to lower the average age of its current Australian customer base from 44, the XF 2.2D will be available with a host of optional extras, including a sports body kit and an expanded range of exterior paint colours and alloy wheels between 18 and 20-inch.

A lane departure warning system is not available, but other extras will include front parking sensors and a rearview camera ($1390), mirror pack ($1570), 6x6-way powered seats ($440), 12/12-way seats with memory ($2305), a split rear seat ($1000), carpet mats ($350), keyless entry ($950), piano black or rich oak interior veneer ($320), ski hatch ($630), intelligent high-beam ($630), voice control ($1590) and a sunroof ($3920).

Jaguar XF 2.2D pricing (plus on-road costs):
Luxury (a) $78,900
Premium Luxury (a) $86,100

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