It was starting to look as though rival manufacturers were more likely to fire their chief executives to the moon from a giant catapult than break the German stranglehold on the executive car market, but then Jaguar launched the XF.
With Jag’s foreign ownership selectively glossed over, here was evidence the British marque could design and build a big executive car to match and even beat the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes at their own game.
All Jaguar needed to do was hammer home its advantage and the latest 3.0-litre diesel engine could be a mighty blow in the right direction.
The figures make interesting reading. In Diesel S form the XF’s 3.0-litre engine produces 271bhp and also churns out a whopping 600Nm of torque. That’s major league muscle, enough to challenge BMW’s mighty 3.0-litre diesels from an equal footing and the XF’s lightweight design means a 0-60mph sprint of under six seconds is also achievable.
This Jaguar has the pace to leave the competition in its wake. If all that sounds like overkill, a more prosaic option is also available in the form of a 236bhp version of the same engine. Here 0-60mph can still be covered in 6.7s and the 50mph-70mph increment, a good indicator of mid-range pull, is only 0.5s slower at 3.7s.
This doesn’t appear to be the most spacious car in its sector but the coupe-like lines of the XF do belie the amount of space inside.
There’s room for five adults in comfort, generous interior stowage and a boot capacity of up to 540 litres (plus the opportunity to fold the rear seats and add a further 420 litres).
Get in and settle yourself behind the wheel. What’s it like? Well, on entry to the XF, the start button pulses red, like a heartbeat. Start the engine and the JaguarDrive Selector gearchange lever rises into the palm of the hand, while rotating air conditioning vents turn from their flush, ‘parked’ position to their functional open position. The XF feels special.
Key driving aids on the XF include Electronic Brake Assist, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, the usual anti-lock braking, Dynamic Stability Control, Cornering Brake Control, and Engine Drag Torque Control.
And, for the first time in a Jaguar, Understeer Control Logic which decelerates the car and helps to restore grip to the front wheels when required.
The key benefits of the super-efficient combustion achieved by the XF 3.0-litre diesels are 42mpg combined economy and 179g/km CO2 emissions. These figures are the same for both the engine’s power outputs and make the Diesel S look more competitive still against the likes of BMW’s 535d.
The 3.0-litre diesel capitalises on the car’s lightweight design with weight saving measures of its own it uses numerous aluminium parts and a cylinder block made from compact graphite iron which is stronger than conventional iron and allows a smaller block to be used.
The Exhaust Gas Recirculation system channels exhaust gasses back into the engine where more of the pollutants are burned off.
In combination with the advanced combustion system, this means that the XF diesel doesn’t need catalytic converters or particulate filters to meet European emissions regulations, which further reduces costs.
Perhaps the Germans have had it their own way for too long. There’s no doubt that the XF represented a massive opportunity for Jaguar to break into the executive car big league and with the latest 3.0-litre diesel engines, the marque is giving the car every chance of realising that potential.
Genuinely competitive in terms of performance, economy, emissions and price, the XF diesels should give the market leaders something to think about.
Ruthlessly pressing home an advantage is not something that the British are renowned for but the XF 3.0-litre diesels hint at a mean streak that could be developing at Jaguar after the switch from American to Indian ownership.
It certainly bodes well for the future as Jaguar now has an executive car you can buy with your head as well as your heart.