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Driven: Jaguar resists Germans with XF

Open fire: Jaguar’s second-generation XF is planning to hit the prestige large sedan market harder than ever, but it is not fighting fire with fire.

XF can succeed in German-dominated space with unique British approach: Jaguar


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5 Feb 2016

JAGUAR says it is not trying to mimic the big three German players in the executive large sedan market with its all-new XF, but that the Audi, BMW and Mercedes stronghold can be conquered by a unique British point of difference.

While the three dominant brands scuffle for leadership, Jaguar has been gradually mustering its forces with a growing line-up that is this week bolstered by an all-new luxury sedan offering, to go head-to-head with the big three Europeans.

Jaguar is open about how it benchmarked against the current segment leaders, but the company says its new English-made XF sedan range will appeal to customers wanting a high-quality, high-performance option that offers even greater exclusivity.

Speaking at the Australian media launch of the XF range, Jaguar Land Rover Australia managing director Matthew Wiesner told GoAuto that the company respected how the German brands had claimed the luxury market in recent years, but Jaguar was ready to make its presence felt again.

“Quite frankly, and I mean this in the nicest possible way, we are not German,” he said.

“Those three German brands are so involved with themselves. Sitting out here is the only British brand that has evolved a lot in the last five or ten years. We now have a British-branded premium product with a strong point of difference that we didn't have even a year ago.

“We should be confident enough to say the cars are good. Now that we have relevant product in the right places, positioned well and doing the right thing, we need to build on the things that make us unique and different in that place.”

Mr Wiesner admitted that until recently, Jaguar could not compete against the quality of the German manufacturers, but since the change of Jaguar ownership in 2009 when Indian giant Tata took over, the brand has been back on track.

“The Germans have done some very good things over the last 15 to 20 years, Jaguar has not,” he said. “The history of where Jaguar has been over the last 30 years has not necessarily been as consistent as everybody would have liked.

“We respect the competition for what they have done, they have been the leaders in the spaces that we want to be in but now, with the great work of our engineers and designers we need to be sure of what we are.”

Mr Wiesner said that while the European brands still have a place in the premium sedan market, Jaguar was now ready to re-establish itself as an independent offering that is different from the rest of the pack.

“That’s the German’s job over there. That’s who they are but this is what Jaguar is. We need to make sure that everything we do and how we talk about the brands is in light of the whole British brand space that separates us from them.

“We don't want to be a cookie-cut version of what they are doing and how we speak because that doesn’t make any sense.”

With the launch of the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class-bating Jaguar XE, Mr Wiesner said the XF was able to be a more targeted model, with features that can focus on its 5 Series, A6 and E-Class opponents.

“The old XF did two things. It was positioned half where XE is today and half where XF should be now. It was never perfectly aligned. Now we have XE doing its job here, we can now position XF correctly.”

Early forecasts predict the 2.0-litre petrol XF to be the volume seller, but Mr Wiesner said the company had been surprised at how customers responded to the XE range when it launched in 2015, and the XF could throw a similarly curved ball.

“With XF we are targeting a slightly different demographic and we may have some surprises,” said Mr Wiesner.

“If we can do similar numbers to where we have been in the past with XF then I think we are doing a bloody good job, especially given XE sitting below it now.”

The new XF range is comprised of five engine options all with eight-speed automatic transmissions, which fall under a range of Prestige, R-Sport, Portfolio and S specification levels.

A pair of 2.0-litre diesel options kick off the line-up with the $82,800 before on-road costs Prestige or a more heavily equipped R-Sport version for $88,800.

Both are powered by the Ingenium four-cylinder diesel engine which develops 132kW and 430Nm.

Entry-level XFs can accelerate from zero to 100km/h in 8.1 seconds, use just 4.3 litres of fuel per 100km on the combined cycle and emit 114g of CO2 per kilometre. The new Ingenium engine replaces the previous 2.2-litre diesel offering.

Above that is the 25t 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol, which makes 177kW and 340Nm and is available in either $89,800 R-Sport or $97,800 Portfolio levels of specification. For four-pot petrols, the benchmark 0-100km/h comes up in 7.0 seconds, while using 7.5L/100km.

A supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol opens proceedings in the six-cylinder range with the 250kW/450Nm 35t range that is available in either R-Sport or Portfolio specification, priced from $104,800 and $112,800 respectively.

Performance takes a big step up over four-cylinder versions with 100km/h despatched in 5.4 seconds, while fuel consumption is rated at 8.3L/100km.

A the top of the pride are two S variants of the XF with a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 diesel that pumps out 220kW and a mighty 700Nm of torque or a 280kW version of the petrol V6 with the same torque output as the 35t.

With its extra torque, the V6 diesel manages to accelerate to 100km/h in 6.4 seconds but still manages a low fuel consumption of 6.4L/100km and CO2 emissions of 144g/km. Performance and fuel efficiency for the petrol S matches the 35t version.

Flagship XF Jags cost $120,700 for the diesel S or $128,200 for the top-of-the-range petrol.

Jaguar's aluminium-intensive architecture has reduced the weight of the new XF by up to 190kg when compared with the outgoing version, as well as increasing torsional stiffness by up to 28 per cent.

On the outside the Jag's wheelbase has grown 51mm, but overall length has reduced 7mm, height is down 3mm and the front overhang is 66mm less.

Despite the reduction in exterior measurements, the XF has found more rear passenger space with legroom up 15mm, while there is 24mm more space for knees and 27mm extra headroom.

Jaguar says the reduced weight and stiffer body combines with a new double wishbone front suspension that is borrowed from the F-Type sportscar, ‘Integral-link’ rear set-up and near 50:50 weight distribution for “the ideal balance between ride and handling.”

Adding to the mechanical design, Jaguar's Adaptive Dynamics system monitors body and wheel movement and alters the damper setting for the best ride or dynamics depending on the selected drive mode.

Configurable Dynamics Technology takes the system a step further as an option for V6 variants and allows the driver to customise the suspension, steering, engine and transmission settings depending on the desired driving characteristics.

In all variants, the new XF sends power to the rear wheels only, but All Surface Progress Control, maximises the available traction allowing the car to pull away and proceed up to 30km/h on loose surfaces such as mud and snow.

ZF's eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission has a rotary gear selector for full auto operation or steering wheel paddles for manual shifting, while a pendulum dampener and Transmission Idle Control reduce vibration and fuel consumption.

Jaguar says the XF's InControl Touch information system is the best example yet fitted to any of its models and features either an 8.0-inch or 10.2-inch Pro touchscreen with Dual View technology.

Passengers can use swipe and pinch gestures to navigate the various applications or a voice control system that recognises natural spoken instructions such as 'play more like this.'Pro system-equipped cars have only recently gone into production and are expected to arrive in Australia later this year.

A standard 10GB hard drive can be upgraded to a 60GB version in the Touch Pro system, while the standard sound system can be upgraded to an 825-watt 17-speaker Meridian stereo.

Forward facing stereo camera technology has brought a variety of driver-assistance and safety systems such as autonomous braking, lane-keep warning and assistance and active cruise control, which operates down to stop and start traffic.

Radar sensors sense objects in the immediate surroundings allowing cross-traffic detection, parking assistance including automated bay and parallel manoeuvring and blind-spot monitoring. Cameras on all sides of the XF collate images for a complete 360-degree view when moving the vehicle at low speeds.

Laser head-up display technology presents the most important information to the driver with a multicolour high-resolution display, in addition to the fully-digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster in higher-specification cars.

Jaguar has divided the new XF range into four levels of specification starting with the Prestige which comes with 18-inch Fan-style wheels, 10-way electric adjustable leather front seats and a combination of black gloss and aluminium trims.

Standard equipment also includes dual-zone air-conditioning, electrically adjustable steering column, keyless entry and start, Bluetooth connectivity, navigation, analogue instruments with 5.0-inch information display, 308W sound system and self-dimming rearview mirror.

Stepping up to the Portfolio adds to the Prestige kit with 19-inch Razor wheels, Windsor part leather upholstery, illuminated Jaguar tread-plates, head-up display, digital radio and surround camera view.

R-Sport versions get the Vortex-style 19-inch wheels, Sports leather with Tech Mesh sections, black roof-lining in place of the Oyster standard offering, sportier interior trims and R-Sport-branded tread-plates.

Top-spec XF S variants have black 19-inch Blade wheels with machined faces, a combination of leather, suede and synthetic leather interior furnishings, Grey Figured Ebony interior veneer complemented by Dark Hex textured dash finisher, aluminium pedals and the top-spec 360-degree camera view.

Access to the 540-litre boot is via a power-operated lid and capacity can be increased with the 40/20/40 split folding second row seats.

LED headlights are optional, as are a long list of individual equipment and aesthetic customisation options and a range of packages such as Cold Climate, Active Safety, Advanced Park Assist and Rear Comfort packages.

2016 Jaguar XF pricing*
Prestige 20d (a)$82,800
R-Sport 20d (a)$88,800
R-Sport 25t (a)$89,800
R-Sport 35t (a)$104,800
Portfolio 25t (a)$97,800
Portfolio 35t (a)$112,800
S 30d (a)$120,700
S 30sc (a)$128,200
*Excludes on-road costs

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