Cutting Corners: Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury

Over the past couple of months I’ve skirted the peripheries of the XF, but now it’s time to address the core of the XF – its road behaviour.

IMG_2328

Lets begin with a positive. For what can be described as a fairly mundane executive saloon, the Jaguar’s steering response is from the top drawer. In my experience I’ve only driven one other car fitted with a power-assisted rack (which wasn’t a Citroen) that had nicer steering than the XF. That was a Lotus Evora. 

It’s the single outstanding facet of the XF’s road behaviour – the one parameter that moves it out of the conventional, elevating even the dreariest suburban trudge into the arena of the sublime. How to describe? Firstly, the leather lined wheel feels lovely in the hands, which sets a tone in tactile terms. The response to steering inputs is immediate, but not over-sharp or darty. It’s commendably light but with sufficient resistance to inspire confidence. We all know now that to ascribe the word ‘feel’ to any power assisted steering set-up is a nonsense, so we’ll make no claims for that here. But in terms of initial turn-in and response to control inputs, it’s lovely.

There’s a fluidity to the steering’s reactions, a wonderful elasticity to its responses that makes the XF so satisfyingly to drive – more so than any executive car I’ve spent time with. But more than anything, it’s the quality of the steering that impress most. As a driving characteristic one experiences every second you spend behind the wheel, few manufacturers take the trouble to reward the driver so richly. In this area at least, Jaguar’s chassis engineers deserve every word of praise that has come their way. For 2016, the new XF has adopted an electric PAS system, which is reputedly very good, but it’s impossible to imagine it being an improvement on this.

Copy of IMG_2554

Lest this turn into an unalloyed hymn of praise, I’ll now turn to the subject of the XF’s brakes. Discs are fitted all round, and anti-lock is standard, as you’d expect. The Jaguar’s brakes are powerful, well balanced and will haul the heavy XF down from speed without drama, fade or untoward effect. Having said that, on occasion, the ABS kicks in a little over-zealously for my liking; on one occasion giving me a bit of a shock, as I really hadn’t considered their intervention necessary or desirable. Perhaps they come from the same supplier as the hopelessly over-dramatic parking sensors.

Another niggle with the brakes is their sensitivity. The XF’s brakes are normal servo-assisted jobs, Jaguar having abandoned their fully powered system mid-way into the XJ40’s career. In a similar manner to a neophyte experiencing the fully powered brakes fitted to Citroëns of yore for the first time, the XF’s brakes will stand the car on its nose if you plant your foot too enthusiastically. With experience I’ve developed a delicate touch, but nevertheless, bringing the car to a halt without an unseemly jerk is a hit and miss affair. Furthermore, the rear calipers clamp and unclamp the discs with an audible and unseemly groan.

Whether this should happen at all is a question worth asking, but I certainly don’t expect to have to hear it. It’s exactly the sort of NVH issue Jaguar had all but eliminated under the masterful direction of former engineering supremo, Bob Knight and his successors, so it’s very disappointing to discover these lessons appear to have been unlearned in the interim.

So there you are – from sublime to faintly ridiculous. Life with the XF does occasionally swing between extremes.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Founding Editor. Content Provider.

8 thoughts on “Cutting Corners: Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury”

  1. What is it with snatchy brakes? Is it to do with the amount of pedal travel and the relationship of input to braking action. I suppose the ideal is a linear relationship – or is it? Perhaps one wants a gradual build up so a little pressure give a lot of braking but the harder your stand on the brakes the harder they work (to deal with emergencies?).

  2. My E39 BMW 530i had delicious steering too – so instinctive and reassuring. Lovely, comfortable 4 spoke wheel too.

    1. If you are talking about brakes Richard, the short answer is that most cars are fitted with a vacuum powered servo mounted to the brake master cylinder, which provides assistance as the brakes are applied. Oleopneumatic Citroens, Jaguar D-Types and early XJ40s instead used an engine driven pump with a high pressure hydraulic brake booster – in the Citroen and XJ40’s case linked to their respective self-levelling suspension systems.

      To return to the XF, the issue is those last millimetres of travel as the car comes to a complete halt. The rear pads appear to grab the discs, causing a jolt and an audible thud. As the car immediately creeps forward upon release, the pads unclamp the discs with an unseemly groan. While I understand what’s occurring down there, I expect to be insulated from it – especially in a luxury car. As I said in the piece, Bob Knight would have been horrified.

    2. This reminds me of the unholy SBC brakes fitted to the Plastic Benz that was the W211. These were not only the reason for one of Mercedes’ larger recall actions, but dreadful to use, as I could experience during a week with an ’03 E 240. It was simply impossible to bring this car to a halt without an unbecoming jolt, just before the car would actually stop. Which was both annoying and distinctly ungraceful. Fritz Nallinger wouldn’t have approved, either.

  3. I suspect that a strictly linear response is not desirable. The clamping action of the brakes should be feathered across the first part of the peddle’s travel, otherwise the response might be regarded as too “jumpy”. One man’s fish is another’s fowl, of course: some like the sharp response of Renault brakes, although I find them nigh on unbearable. (It would seem that the folk at RenualtSport agree with me on that one.)

    All this takes a degree of fine calibration that few manufacturers perfect. The time taken for testing different response maps no doubt accrues significant costs; add a desire to create a uniformity of feeling in all the major controls and the testing regime can balloon immensely.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s