2012 Jaguar XF: DSC Off
August 01, 2012
Apparently, some folks over at Jaguar read our long-term blogs and informed us that, yes indeed, the electronic stability- and traction-control system can be defeated. After the first test with DSC in Dynamic mode (thus limiting the car's true potential), we decided we should retest our new XF sans Nanny McPhee. We did just that and we'll post the results shortly, but here's a tease from the test driver's note pad...
Acceleration: After learning to press/hold the ESC disable button for about a half-hour (Ten-Mississippi actually), I got a brief message on the IP. Sure enough, the XF then lit the rears "with extreme prejudice." I found a predictable, sweet spot on the launch at around 1,500 rpm where I could get the rear tires to sing a little without hazing them before I used WOT. It worked well, but I don't think the shifts were especially sporty. I tried to use the chequered-flag Dynamic mode, but then it turned traction control back on. So then I shut off ESC and it seems to engage Dynamic (I saw a flag on the IP) but without the zippy-shift protocol. I'm not sure the car was any quicker/faster with the ESC/Trac off due to the electronic trade offs.
Skid pad: With ESC off, the XF finds a delicate, neutral place with mild understeer on the limit. I could have easily wiggled my big toe and made it oversteer.
Slalom: With ESC off, the XF feels free, frisky and playful. Of course, the temptation is for lurid slides (and it will do that), but the quick way between the cones was to use delicate and precise throttle input to coax a little rotation at each cone and save the uppercut for the exit. I was a little surprised and pleased with how quick, friction-free, and precise the steering remained with this added (or subtracted?) measure of ESC off. There's no need for heavy steering -- even in a car with sporting intentions. Even when going slide-ways through the last gate, I always felt in complete control. Nice predictable behavior which is more than I can say for current BMW sedans when pushed outside their 8/10ths comfort zones with ESC disabled.
Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 3,038 miles