Every grey cloud has a silver lining. The XFís exterior might match the glum weather, but the overall experience is a welcome distraction from frosty mornings, wet roads and dark, sun-starved days. And thatís before any passenger makes a comment about the XFís jazzy interior colour scheme.
The arrival of winter has prompted the need to be more considerate regarding use of the throttle. When wet, itís not difficult to break traction exiting junctions smartly ñ the XF is rear-wheel drive and in this guise boasts a generous helping of torque, after all. Fair play to Jaguarís engineers for allowing a modest amount of slip even in the carís ëtameí Eco mode, though. I much prefer this arrangement to stuttering across a junction thanks to a nannying traction control system.
Still, despite the carís R-Sport branding, you wonít catch me exploiting the XFís frisky character and drifting around my local roundabouts at the first sight of rain. What Iím increasingly finding it does best is the cross-country schlep. The carís firm yet sophisticated ride copes well with the countryís patchwork quilt A-roads, and thereís no shortage of thrust for safe overtaking. Making progress demands the driver to be a proactive participant though, as the carís sleepy Eco mode doesnít quite cut it on the open road. Switch the gearbox to Sport, grab the gearchange paddles and youíre good to go. The change in the carís character is marked and the four-pot motor behaves as if someoneís given it a kick up the backside.
With all this Stirling Moss-esque behaviour itís important to keep your eyes on the road. Iíve already praised the XFís optional all-digital main instrument display, but digging into the various menus reveals a full map mode that transforms the driving experience. Audiís ëvirtual cockpití view has been praised by many, but Iíd argue that Jaguarís alternative is better; itís less cluttered and offers just the right amount of speed, fuel and distance information. The only drawback is the need to activate it for every journey ñ there doesnít appear to be a default ëoní mode sadly.
You might not need a widescreen map view every day, but the XF offers other convenience and labour saving kit that you do quickly take for granted. Keyless ignition isnít new, and can be found on considerably cheaper cars, but for me itís the tight integration of such features with the keyless entry that justifies the premium price tag. That you can pull up, let the engine stop-start do its thing, get out, be confident that the car is now in Park with the handbrake activated and just press the dimple in the door handle to lock it before walking away is worth every penny.
Remote opening and closing of the carís boot is another bonus, although reaching into the darkest corners of this cavernous space is a stretch. At least thereís room for a space saver spare wheel, a welcome sight if youíre stranded with a puncture on a dark and wet winterís night.
Date arrived: 23rd August 2016
Mileage to date: 4,006
Fuel consumption: 65.7mpg (combined) 50.1mpg (on test)
The keyless entry and start adds to the XF’s premium ownership experience.
It’s hard to reach the corners of the cavernous boot if you are short.