First drive: Jaguar XF 2.2 diesel

  • New 2.2-litre diesel engine capable of 52mpg
  • Yearly road tax of £130 and BIK banding of 23%
  • Stop/start technology is a first for Jaguar

Along with a refresh that includes a sensible front-end reworking of its XF four-door, Jaguar will be upping the common-sense ante by introducing a new super-frugal, low-emitting 2.2-litre diesel engine to the range.

The new four-cylinder version, which is available to order now with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, will be ready for first deliveries in September this year. It promises to be manna from heaven for company car drivers anxious to reduce their tax bills.

Key to its success in reducing emissions is the inclusion of stop/start technology. It's a first for Jaguar and as a result it has helped to keep CO2 emissions down to 149g/km, which not only means a yearly road tax of £130 and a showroom tax of £130, but also a BIK banding of 23% (from April 2011). Jaguar reckons the inclusion of stop/start has improved efficiency by between five and seven per cent and that means the XF is able to achieve an impressive average economy of more than 52mpg.

We drove a prototype of the car very briefly on the busy roads around Jaguar's facility in Coventry to find out if the car has been compromised by this efficiency drive. On first early impressions we think the stop/start technology and the lower-powered diesel engine is good enough to eclipse the current best-selling 208bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel version. A brief chat with a few Jag engineers tells us that there'll be every chance the 3.0-litre will get stop/start too, but they are not allowed to tell us that, so don't tell anyone. Not even the cat.

This smaller engine develops a fairly decent 187bhp and 450Nm of pulling power and that helps it get from 0 to 62mph in 8.5 seconds - only 0.6 seconds slower than the less-popular petrol V6 version - and then on to a maximum speed of 140mph.

During our test we took the car up to motorway speeds and although we never got the chance to fully explore the car's performance capabilities it certainly didn't feel like it was found wanting when pulling away. It felt refined and there's nothing to suggest that it won't be good enough for most travelling executives' needs.

As for the stop/start system there's little to complain about: it's neither sluggish or ungainly. The system shuts down the engine 300 milliseconds after the car comes to rest - we didn't time it - and then the engine will remain inactive until you take your foot off the brake. 

Utilising a tandem solenoid starter, the system features an upgraded starter motor with twin solenoids that allow it to achieve instant restarts. It's the first use of such technology in its sector and the engine gets to its optimal 'pulling away' speed before you can get your foot back on the accelerator pedal. 

A secondary battery is fitted specifically to achieve engine restarts, meaning that the electrical functions of the XF are never compromised by stop/start.

The system also detects whether the car is fully at rest and the climate control functions of the car have also been reworked so the stop/start system can operate for longer. In order for the system to repeat the function in busy traffic you have to travel above 4mph before stopping again and we have no complaints when we tested that. It all seemed to work very well.  

It operates by default in both 'D' and 'S' gearbox modes but can be overridden by the driver. The automatic box can be operated by using paddleshifts and you can keep the engine inactive by pulling either paddle towards you when you are stationary. The car will start up again when you release the paddle. While the engine isn't running a green information light in the instrument panel illuminates to tell you that you haven't stalled and all is well.

Specifications and will be announced later this year but it's expected that the 2.2-litre Jaguar XF will cost around £29,000. Given that the current entry level 3.0-litre diesel Executive edition costs £31,600, and BMW's 520d SE costs £29,430, it could well turn out to be a very sensible buy.

Also consider:

Audi A6

Classy, well-built with decent performance. A default choice for execs who want something understated

BMW 5-Series

Prodigious handling and super-sharp performance levels. Ride can be a little firm, but still a fantastic machine

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Rather more middle-of-the-road as far as handling is concerned, but comfortable and stylish