What’s it like?
Very driveable and strong around the mid-range from just below 2000rpm, it delivers an elastic shove of torque right up to the red line. An eight-speed ZF auto is standard-fit and the engine/box tune is set-up to maximise performance in the mid-range.
So as soon as you demand performance to speed up the exit from a corner or to push past a slower vehicle, it steps down a gear. Together with keen throttle response, this XF feels eager on-the-move, and because the ZF box is so smooth in operation, it’s done without that ‘hunt-the-gear’ feeling of some autos.
As a result in give-and-take, everyday driving, rather than a test track evaluation, it would be hard to distinguish the 161bhp from the 188bhp, which makes it something of a bargain. The disappointment though is that the lower power output doesn’t translate into a lower CO2 rating — 149g/km is 17g/km higher than the E220CDi — which means three bands higher in the Benefit-In-Kind ratings.
Chassis-wise this XF has the same spring/damper and steering settings as the more powerful 2.2, which means light, precise steering and a supple chassis that glides over bigger bumps, yet maintains strong body control. The ride is also helped by standard 17in alloys, although they do look a little weedy. Unusually there’s not even the option to upgrade to 18in wheels at the factory level, which keeps the fleet deal simple, we guess.
We tested the top of the range Luxury model, which includes standard leather and auto 'box. The keenest price-point SE and SE Executive make do with part leather trim, which might detract from the cabin ambience.
Inside there’s still a luxury feel with its extensive swathes of wood, but other aspects are starting to age. Amazing to think that 2012 is only the XF’s fourth-year on sale, but in that time all-new A6 and 5-Series models have ratcheted-up interior design quality, suggesting the XF’s dials and information read-out are ready for a re-design. Small points, but our XF also had creaky-feel lesser interior trim parts and the door handles felt stiff.
Should I buy one?
No doubt the XF remains a handsome-looking and fine driving saloon, which this new 161bhp 2.2 builds on. And the keener pricing and lease rates are welcome, but for a company car tax special it really needs lower CO2 to sit at the top of the class.
Jaguar XF 2.2 (163PS) Luxury
Price: £32,950; Top speed: 130mph; 0-62mph: 9.8sec; Economy: 52.3mpg (combined); CO2: 149g/km; Kerb weight: 1745kg; Engine: 4cyl in-line, 2179cc, turbodiesel; Installation: Front, RWD; Power: 161bhp at 3500rpm; Torque: 295lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox: 8-spd auto; Fuel tank: 69.5 litres; Wheels: 17-inch, alloy; Tyres: 235/55 R17