The downsizing trend at Jaguar continues and this time, it’s a new 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine that has made its way into the XF’s bay. Priced at Rs 48.30 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), this small capacity Jaguar is the most affordable petrol Jag, by far. But, has downsizing diluted the Jaguar experience or does it retain the character of a true-blue Jag?
Straight off the bat, don’t let the lack of cubic capacity throw you off. This relatively petite direct injection turbocharged mill squeezes out an impressive 237bhp and 34.7kgm, giving it a bit more muscle than its similar-engined rivals. Transmission is via a ZF-sourced, eight-speed automatic that drives the rear wheels.
As a result, the 2.0-litre petrol Jag looks quite impressive on paper and importantly, it barely loses out on equipment when compared to the top-spec XF. So, all the essential kit you would expect from a luxury sedan is here. There is dual-zone air-conditioning, GPS navigation, 11-speaker audio system, mood lighting, touch-screen interface (which could be a bit more intuitive), reversing camera, leather upholstery and Bluetooth connectivity. Both the comfortable front seats get powered adjustment too. And then there’s the same fantastic interior that seamlessly blends old-world charm with modern elements. The mix of leather, wood trim and brushed metal is more alluring than the industrial feel of a German car’s interior. Even on the outside, Jaguar hasn’t left many tell-tale signs that announce ‘base variant’ either. Also, unlike the downsized 2.2-litre diesel XF, you get dual exhausts poking out of the back, further concealing the car’s relatively lower sticker price.
In fact, since the interior is quite identical to the top-spec car, the chauffer driven won’t really be able to tell the difference at all. However, unlike your chauffer’s comfy front seat, the XF’s rear bench isn’t as cosy. Yes, while there’s more than adequate knee room, the smallish seat squabs lack the kind of under thigh support found in luxury sedans like the Mercedes-Benz E-class.
So, while this new variant retains its aesthetic and luxurious bits, what is this 2.0-litre petrol engine like from behind the wheel? Simply put, this four-pot isn’t as charismatic as the larger sixes and V8s but from a practical standpoint, it’s more than adequate. Leave it in ‘D’ and the XF does just fine, upshifting early and ambling around at low revs. However, the power delivery is a tad spikey and if you nail the accelerator, the gearbox shifts down, at times up to four ratios, swiftly propelling you forward and may catch you a bit off-guard in slow moving traffic. Twist the gear-selector to ‘S’ and the response improves significantly, making it a lot easier to dart into vanishing gaps. For its lack of displacement, it’s a reasonably quick car too. Flat-out, 100kph comes up in 8.65 seconds and the motor packs enough oomph to comfortably breach 180kph. If you choose to manually cycle through the eight-speed, the steering-mounted paddle shifters are quite quick to react to inputs and deliver as expected.
What’s impressive though is the fantastic level of refinement this motor has. It revs smoothly and keeps noise and vibrations at bay. Only when pushed to its limit, the engine lays down a muted sporty soundtrack that’s rather entertaining.
In terms of ride, the higher profile tyres aid in better bump absorption and the XF's ride feels soft for the most bit. However, while it makes easy work of expansion joints and small crinkles, the suspension setup doesn’t fully insulate the cabin from thuds and audible crashes when driven over sharp edges. At highway speeds and overall, it doesn’t ride as flat as a Mercedes E-class or a BMW 5-series but it’s not as firm as the Germans and has a more rounded edge to the ride quality. As for handling, the XF grips the tarmac well and the steering wheel provides adequate feedback and is predictable around the bends.
Just like its downsized diesel counterpart, the 2.0-litre petrol XF gives you pretty much the full XF experience with just a slightly watered-down engine. Yes, the chauffer driven won’t enjoy the best rear seats in the segment but, the ‘low-cost’ XF retains the same charming interiors that feel quite special, especially at night. Also, compared to the ‘German three’, Jaguar’s exclusivity means this ‘entry-level’ XF still turns a lot more heads.
However, during the car’s stint with us, it came across as a bit thirsty, averaging about 6-7kpl in mixed driving conditions. And, since this 2.0-litre petrol XF is priced quite similarly to the 2.2-litre diesel, the latter will prove to be substantially cheaper in terms of running costs. That said, the refined nature of this engine definitely makes a strong case for itself. And for some, this may take priority over running costs, especially if you clock limited kilometres.