Jaguar XF 163 SE

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Did you know you can now buy a Jaguar for less than £30,000? it’s possible only because some bright spark at Jaguar twigged that a lot of company car schemes peg out at this price point, leaving Jaguar otherwise unrepresented. So they’ve created a car that’s eligible.

The machine your £29,950 will buy is, of course, an XF saloon, but with an engine de-tuned from 190bhp to just 163bhp. It costs Jaguar exactly the same to build because the only actual difference between the two under the bonnet is an ECU, but you’ll still pay £4000 less for the lower output motor than the cheapest version with the standard engine.

The curious thing is that while claimed performance has taken exactly the kind of hit you’d expect, there’s no improvement at all in either fuel economy or Co2, which to me smacks of Jaguar putting the car on sale before having had the time to re-certify rather than continue to lose sales to rivals from BMW, Audi and Mercedes. Either that or the official drive cycle is even more ludicrous than I thought. My guess is that within not too much time the official claims will relect unavoidable physical laws, which say that it takes less fuel to generate 163bhp than 190bhp, and be adjusted accordingly.

In the meantime you can be assured of two things: first and whatever the igures say, this will be the most frugal Jaguar in history. Secondly, it is no poor relation at all. I know
this because i spent several days with both this new XF and a ritzy ‘Premium Luxury’ version of its more powerful sister. And what I noticed was how little I noticed the performance disparity between the two.

They seemed to respond almost identically to all normal requests from your right foot and only when overtaking and therefore requiring maximum effort did the new car feel in the least bit anaemic.

Moreover when I compared the specifications of the two I found the only thing I wanted that was standard on the dearer car but optional on the other was satellite navigation.

All the other goodies I crave, such as cruise control, full Bluetooth telephone control, iPod connectivity, leather upholstery and a DAB radio are included. But their list prices are £7255 apart. Moreover, the new entry level car has 17in wheels as standard instead of the 18in rim on the higher grade models, so it rides and steers a little better too. in short, this might be the cheapest car Jaguar has put on sale since the demise of the awful X-type, but it is also one of the best.

Factfile
ENGINE: 2.2 litres, four cylinders, diesel
TOP SPEED: 130mph
PRICE: £29,950
POWER: 163bhp at 4000rpm
FUEL/CO2: 52.3mpg, 149g/km
www.jaguar.co.uk