Dark Satanic Mill: Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury

Jaguar’s power units have entered legend. This month we ask whether the XF’s engine and powertrain are cut from similar cloth?

Image via jomomag
Image: jomomag

Try as I might, I’ve yet to satisfactorally reconcile the concept of a compression ignition Jaguar. But commercial realities make for expedient bedfellows and the Ford/PSA-developed 2179 cc 16 valve diesel unit powering our XF has been responsible for the marque’s growing acceptance in the vital company user-chooser market in the UK. Commercial success notwithstanding, there’ll be few obituaries now it’s been consigned to history by JLR’s new generation of ‘Ingenium’ engines. Like most of its breed, it’s an agricultural sounding device; peak power of 188 bhp and a torque figure of 332 lbs/ft at 2000 rpm going some way to mitigate against its more obvious aural deficiencies.

The problem for the XF of course has always been weight. Originally schemed on a modified version of the XJ’s X350 aluminium architecture, Ford vetoed the expense and time to market, opting instead to retain the dated and heavy DEW98 platform inherited from the S-Type. Extensively modified for XF, it nevertheless weighs a portly 1745 kg in 2.2d form. It wasn’t until X250’s midlife facelift that Jaguar managed to obtain the resources to bring the 2.2d XF to market, but for it to have any chance against its mainstream German rivals, a competitive co2 figure was going to be vital. It’s clear the quoted figure of 149 g/km was hard-won.

Jaguar engineers went to a good deal of trouble to isolate the XF’s occupants from the worst excesses of noise and vibration, giving the XF a double layer bulkhead, extra sound deadening material around the turbochargers, alternator and starter motor, in addition to active engine mounts, but taken collectively, the job of containing the engine’s NVH is a thorough one. The result of these efforts is a commendably quiet cabin. The sound of the engine is audible – (how could it not be) – but at moderate speeds it’s distant and muted. Of vibration, there is little. Stray however into the upper reaches of the engine’s power band and the engine vocally betrays its origins.

With power outputs such as those quoted here, there should be little shortage of power or torque, and sure enough there isn’t. Car magazine obtained a top speed of 140 mph and a zero to sixty time of 8.5 seconds when they tested a similar example in 2012. Obtaining it however, isn’t always as immediate as you’d like, thanks to a sometimes soporific interface between the powerplant and the otherwise excellent ZF 8-speed automatic transmission. The upshot being the XF seems to draw breath before responding to sudden accelerative inputs which can inhibit quick getaways or gaps that open up in traffic.

It could be anything under there really. Image via eurojag
It could be anything under there really. Image via eurojag

Gearshifts are for the most part seamless, but the manner in which the transmission software has been set up means it habitually defaults to the upper ratios, which at urban speeds means the engine often feels and sounds laboured and soporific. This need to always be in the tallest possible ratio aids economy but also means the XF often feels ‘unsettled’.

Putting the gearbox into ‘sport’ mode obviates the problem to some extent – the ZF box holding on to the intermediate gears longer and offering the driver full manual control via the wheel mounted paddles – unpleasant plastic levers that offer little tactile reward, but work well enough. The downside of this of course is not only that you hear more of the engine’s vocal, but you also use more fuel. However, I’d willingly sacrifice a few mpg for more control over the gearbox. Sport is fine when you’re in the mood, but most of the time you just want to waft.

All this aside however, the XF remains a pleasant means in which to travel by road. Jaguar have made the best job they could of masking the engine installation’s inherent deficiencies, and despite the annoyances of the gearing and the diesel’s drone, the 2.2d makes a lot of sense, while giving its 3.0 litre V6 derivative a run for its money, both in performance and economy. I can’t help feeling however, the latter would offer a somewhat richer experience.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Founding Editor. Content Provider.

13 thoughts on “Dark Satanic Mill: Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury”

  1. I’m old fashioned but, for me, Jaguar is one of those manufacturers, like Ferrari, BMW and Porsche who are inextricably tied up with the quality and nature of their petrol engines. Of course, commercial realities meant that the last three have had to compromise, but personally the oil-burning versions of none of the above’s products hold any allure. Fortunately for them millions of customers disagree, but your comments about the on-the-road behaviour yet again underline how today’s cars are compromised in that engineers could optimise them for the driving experience, but instead have to chase official consumption figures. As you say, just switching to sport isn’t always enough.

  2. A guy at work had an XF with this engine and was always bemoaning the sound and feel of the drivetrain and its apparent sloth when compared with is previous 520d. Having been driven in an E220 and A6 2.0 diesel recently, I came to thinking that these relatively high capacity 4 cylinder diesels are never going to me much more than just acceptable in the aural and vibratory stakes – one puts up with them because of the quite amazing economy they deliver.

    For me, 6 cylinder diesels can be something of a revelation. The 2.7 unit in my C6 is not massively powerful, but can sound quite lovely when warm and kept in the low-to-mid range. It revs smoothly and the surging torque suits the mostly wafting ride. A friend’s 335d is quite mind-blowing in terms ot the balance of pace and economy, but disappointed me aurally, and I had not expected that.

    Back to Jaguar, and reports of the new Ingenium worry me somewhat in terms of refinement, power output and even economy. I think it may be suffering from the pace of its development and, perhaps, skimping on the development budget. I anticipate significant revisions within the next 18 months …

    1. Let’s have one new engine series without teething trouble… You may be right but I hope you’re not. Is it only me who thinks Jaguar have delivered a series of cars that are not disasters under Tata? Isn’t that remarkable considering the collection of failed launches we have documented here?

    2. Richard, like you, I am impressed with what Tata has done with its stewardship of JLR. It looks to me like it really have decided on and is implementing a long term strategy for JLR – by which I mean 10-20 years.

      It seems to have hired quality leaders and managers, have provided impressive levels of investment, don’t seem to be overly short-termist in terms of required returns on investment, and let the management get on with it. I don’t actually think that any of their cars – with the possible exception of the Range Rover – are true market leaders. However, the cars are very competitive.

      Jaguar is clearly building its brand around certain sensible elements (ride/ handling/ steering feel characteristics, modern conservative style with touches of distinctive flair, and everything else competitive) and building out its range of models into the most obvious and profitable market niches based on a couple of modern and well engineered platforms. They know what they are doing, even if we enthusiasts aren’t entirely delighted with some of the outcomes at present, but I think that will come. Land Rover has the advantage of being plumb in the middle of what is possibly the most profitable sectors of the market at present, and so it’s a more forgiving environment. I am less convinced about LR’s design/ branding approach, and RR and LR have become too blurred, and the creation of the Discovery brand within a brand is just annoying and dilutes their ability to invest and leverage the strength of the Land Rover name.

  3. Every JLR product I have driven in the last few years has a noticeable lag between throttle input and engine output. Even a Range Rover Sport SV8, a car entirely unburdened by thoughts of parsimony, was thus afflicted. The only one that didn’t was an F-Type S, although there the automatic gearbox was entirely out of keeping with my ideal conception of the car.

    1. Yes, they do seem to do that, and it afflicts the C6 too, which uses the PSA/ Ford/ JLR V6 diesel engine, albeit with an Aisin Warner ‘box. You do get used to is quite quickly, and drive around it, but it is a big annoying.

    1. That’s the ‘who was the best James Bond or Doctor Who?’ question. I think different generations have their own idea of what a ‘proper’ Jaguar is. My own take comes from before the XJ went into its overlong stagnation and became seen as a traditionalist’s car and should be for something fast and raffish, but very comfortable – and with a petrol engine of more that 5 cylinders. In part, with his swivelling vents, Callum has tried to recapture that, but only the XJ has managed that slightly cartoonish look that a (in my eyes) proper Jaguar should have – but apparently today’s market doesn’t agree.

    2. I think the Jaguar XE is hitting the target on what a modern Jaguar should be to buyers who wanted and then bought a German ‘junior exec saloon’ or ‘sports sedan’ depending on which side of the Atlantic you live on. Burr walnut and chrome was ‘yer dad’s Jag’ and since visual aggression seemed to serve BMW well then the low-slung curvaceousness went out the window too.

      To me the perfect Jaguar is a British tailoring equivalent of a Maserati level Italian GT or sporting four-door car but delivered at Alfa Romeo prices, if that makes sense? It delivers as much (or more) as a seemingly more exclusive vehicle in terms of sense of occasion and distinctiveness as Sean says, and you feel like you’re getting a bit of a bargain when you pay for it. I don’t think that analogy really stands up today with Alfa fading from view and Maserati’s latest cars but hopefully it conveys what I mean to this community at least. It’s a heart over head purchase, unlike the BMercAudies trio.

      Going forward though, the perfect Jag will probably be 3 sizes of efpace with available EV drive, and an F-Type available to Restricted Use Road Hazard Category A (self-drive, high emissions and performance) special dispensation licence holders.

    3. I think Jaguar are getting there. The XE is particularly impressive in the metal, in a low key way. Personally I would like to see more lissomeness creeping back into the exterior styling, but I don’t think we will see much more of that whilst Callum is at the helm, as good a job as he is doing.

      I still also maintain that a steady 30,000 unit per year market persists for a modern interpretation of the original XJ6. It would have to be very much smaller than the current XJ, perhaps based on a sports car chassis. This neo-XJ6 could maintain its own niche, appeasing naysayers and allowing the rest of Jaguar’s range to get on with whatever it needs to do style-wise to capture sales. Jaguar could charge £100k for that sort of car all day long, and the F-Type already shows that classicism and modernity can co-exist to great results.

    4. I think that’s true Chris. Eoin and Kris pointed out long ago that the current XJ’s spiritual ancestor is more the Mark 10 than the XJ6 I think looking back at the earliest XJ6 prototypes that were nearer to a 4 door E Type gives a good idea of what you mean.

    5. Such an interesting image. The glasshouse was obviously set upon quite early. That the XJ6 did not suffer from having its aerodynamic sports car nose chopped off shows that discord is sometimes a requirement in design. David Bache reached a similar conclusion with the Rover P6. Modern stylists introduce too much discord, by contrast.

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