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Four-pot finesse

By Ghaith Madadha - Feb 19,2013 - Last updated at Feb 19,2013

AMMAN — Here at long last, the four-cylinder version of the Jaguar XF was recently introduced for the 2013 model year, and as far as the Jordanian market, it couldn’t have come fast enough.

Though since 2005 cars over two-litres are not charged a greater import duty percentage, four-cylinder cars of around that displacement overwhelmingly sell better due to a lesser purchase price and their lower running costs.

With a three-litre V6 entry-level engine since 2008 and until now, the sublime Jaguar XF has until now not been able to compete as well as it should in Jordan with the likes of the ubiquitous German executives, but that is all about to change.

With a couple boiler horsepower units and 35lb/ft more torque, significantly improved fuel efficiency and a more affordable starting price, the turbocharged two-litre four-pot Jaguar XF i4 Ti is expected to significantly boost the model’s popularity in Jordan and to carve out a greater slice of the German-dominated executive class market.

A re-worked version of Ford’s superb four-cylinder EcoBoost engine, the XF i4 Ti develops 237bhp at 5500rpm and 251lb/ft throughout a broad 2000-4000rpm mid-range, while also returning economic 8.9l/100km combined fuel efficiency and restrained 207g/km carbon dioxide emissions. Crucially for this class where refinement is paramount, and with the use of twin balancer shafts for service with Jaguar, the XF’s four-cylinder is silky smooth.

Refined and responsive

Smooth and well insulated from the cabin, the i4 Ti engine equipped Jaguar XF is quick on its feet, with an impressive 7.9-second dash to 100km/h and a top speed of 241km/h, courtesy of its high torque and slippery aerodynamics.

Like virtually any turbocharged engine and like its competitors, the XF i4 suffers brief turbo lag at just above idle engine speed, but it turbo spools quickly to deliver a broad range of seamlessly gutsy and energetic performance. With prodigious mid-range torque, overtaking manoeuvres and hill climbs are accomplished swiftly and confidently, while a quick smooth build-up to maximum power is underwritten by this generous twisting force.

Controlled though a chic stylish metal rotary selector and steering mounted paddle shifters, the Jaguar XF i4 features a smooth 8-speed automatic gearbox with decisively quick shifts. Seamless and refined for daily driving and in default mode, the XF’s gearbox is one of the best automatics around, and becomes responsive to inputs and quick in execution in sport mode.

A delight to use in manual mode the XF’ 8-speed is a great companion when driving briskly cross country, as one has greater control of its quick cog changes and can work it to keep the engine in its sweet spot of high torque and responsive power build-up.

Supple and sporty

Sitting low in supportive and comfortable seats and clasping the elegant leather-bound steering wheel in the quarter-to-three position with a noticeable bonnet bulge up ahead, one feels in command and in tune with the Jaguar XF as it briskly glides through the snaking, narrow and heavily textured cross country roads.

Distinguished from its German rivals’ heavier, straight-line biased and less nuanced steering systems, the Jaguar XF — like many British cars from Lotus Elise to Rolls Royce Ghost — deftly combines light steering resistance with a subtly textured feel and feedback for the road the car’s position, as well as a suspension set-up that is both rides comfortably and handles with poise and fluency.

With its rich burr walnut veneers, leather upholstery and invitingly symmetric interior aesthetic reflecting one feels even more at home when pushing the XF through cross country roads, where its steering feel and speed is intuitive to changing road directions and textures, while its suspension seamlessly and fluidly soaks up the imperfections, dips and crests with aplomb.

While some sharper and lower speed cracks in the road can feel firm, the XF Premium Luxury version’s 245/45R18 tyres are the best compromise between comfort, style and handling, while when the XF picks up speed, it becomes very supple but stable on backroads, and remains poised, fluid and refined even over fast and choppy roads.

Ride and handling

With sophisticated front double wishbone and rear multi-link suspension and nuanced well-judged damper, spring and anti-roll bar rates, the Jaguar XF’s ride and handling combination is better integrated than most rivals. Its ability to tackle imperfect winding country roads with feline-like grace and pace is accurately reflected with its evocatively visceral and flowingly elegant design lines.

With the lighter four-cylinder engine and front-end, the 1660kg XF is eager to turn-in and follow a cornering line, while body roll is minimal and rear end-grip reassuringly good. The version test didn’t have two-mode damper stiffness selection, but the default setting was very well chosen for comfort and handling, while brake feel was progressive and strong.

At home cross country, the XF is also surprisingly poised and agile on tight downhill hairpins, while a looser electronic stability control setting or completely ‘off’ mode would make it even better and more fluid up such roads, where over-steer is inevitable if driven briskly.

A highly refined long-distance and highway companion, the Jaguar XF was stable, supple and comfortable at speed and faithful in maintaining direction. An aerodynamically smooth and flowing design, with high insulation levels and tall 7th and 8th gearing, the XF is quiet, smooth and refined at long fast journeys, with very little wind, tyre or engine noise allowing one to best enjoy its crisp Meridian sound system.

Classy cat

Aesthetically freshened up to look more like the original 2007 C-FX concept in 2011, the XF was the first road car to debut Jaguar’s current design language, and now features moody, squinting headlamps with LED daytime running lights. A snouty chrome-ringed and mesh grille, wide lower air intakes and bonnet bulge lend the XF muscle while a flowing roofline and elegant hind quarters add to its sense of svelte style.

Charismatic, classy and potent-looking without seeming exaggerated or trying hard, the XF’s looks stand out among its peers. The tested JD62,000 Premium Luxury version featured 18-inch alloy wheels, boot spoiler and chrome side vents, while the entry-level JD58,000 Luxury comes with 17-inch alloys.

Just as classy inside as out, the Jaguar XF typically features Coventry’s high quality woods and leathers, while design and presentation are put others in the pale, and are clean, modern, stylish and user-friendly. Steering and seat adjustability is excellent, while storage spaces are elegantly discrete. Front seating and boot space are spacious, but the XF’s sultry A- and C-pillar lines, however, mean that front-side and over-the-shoulder visibility is slightly affected, while rear headroom is certainly decent but not best-in-class.

Well kitted with electric seats, steering, rain-sensing wipers, USB/iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, and many other features in Luxury trim, the tested Premium Luxury model however also features keyless entry, and electric rear sunblind among others.

Technical specifications

Engine: 2-litre, aluminium block/head, turbocharged 4-cylinders

Bore x stroke: 87.5 x 83.1mm

Valve-train: 16-valve, DOHC, continuously variable valve timing, direct injection

Gearbox: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive

Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 237 (240) [177] @ 5500rpm

Specific power: 118.6bhp/litre

Power –to-weight ratio: 142.8bhp/tonne

Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 251 (340) @ 2000-4000rpm

Specific torque: 170Nm/litre

Torque-to-weight ratio: 205Nm/tonne

0-60 mph (97 km/h): 7.5 seconds

0-100 km/h: 7.9-seconds

Top speed: 241km/h

Fuel capacity: 64-litres

Fuel economy, combined: 8.9-litres/100km

Combined carbon dioxide emissions: 207g/km

Length: 4961mm

Width: 1877mm

Height: 1460mm

Wheelbase: 2909mm

Track, F/R: 1559/1605mm

Headroom, F/R: 990/956mm

Legroom, F/R: 1056/930mm

Boot capacity, min/max: 500/923-litres

Kerb weight: 1660kg

Suspension, F/R: Double wishbones/multi-link

Turning radius: 11.48 metres

Tyres: 245/45R18

Price, as tested (starting from): JD62,000 (JD58,000)

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