Grubby Grey doesnít have the same ring to it as Rhodium Silver, but thatís been a more accurate description of the XFís appearance of late, rather than the glossy one youíd have found in Jaguarís product brochure. At least it was when mud, rain and fog ruled the roads. Donít worry, the carís much cleaner now, although the task remains almost King Canute-like in its futility in winter.
The upshot of all this cleaning has been that the XFís exterior continues to impress; itís a muscular look with just enough restraint so as not to appear offensive when seen in the rear-view mirror. Rivals may appear to intimidate or, worse still, become instantly forgettable. Not the XF.
Splashing around in the rain-soaked gloom has uncovered a downside to the XFís sophisticated exterior, though. The grime gets everywhere; clinging to every curve of the XFís body kit, caking the headlights and coating the underside of the boot lid where the release switch lives. The former I can live with, but the headlight washers often struggled to keep the headlights clean ñ not ideal when daylight is already in short supply. The latter issue always resulted in dirty fingers when opening the boot. Yes, I know the XF has a powered boot, but itís neither quick nor the more impulsive option.
Speed, or the lack of it, has been a constant throughout the periods of poor weather, but when the sun shone it was a relief to be able to stretch the XFís legs. Having previously been a little harsh towards the carís gearbox ñ the eight-speed unit still feels a little too laid-back around town ñ itís clear that the cross-country sprint is its fortÈ. Sure, any car can ëdoí the motorway slog, and the XF is accomplished in a straight line. But for a big car itís also adept at stringing a few bends together and copes well with what passes for a smooth road surface in the UK. A four-door Grand Tourer for modern times, perhaps?
You wouldnít think so looking at the carís big wheels and knowing that the R-Sport specification includes a more sporty-focussed set-up, but the XF stays mostly faithful to Jaguarís trademark fluid ride. Thereís also a purposeful growl from the engine, although that could be because itís lacking two extra cylinders. Yes, Iím something of a six-cylinder snob when it comes to premium cars, and Iím not yet on board with the whole ëdownsizingí trend. Still, on paper this four-pot Ingenium lump does the job. In practice, it delivers an ample shove when asked, which has been often on those clichÈd motoring journalist A-to-B countryside adventures.
Winter motoring wouldnít be complete without a good moan, and mine concerns the XFís windscreen washer reservoir. The filler flap is next to the inner offside wing and the neck is small and angled. Itís a big reservoir, so youíll spend a while filling it, right to the point itís full and surplus fluid gushes out. A very un-Jaguar experience.
Date arrived: 23rd August 2016
Mileage to date: 4,910
Fuel consumption: 65.7 (combined) 55.2mpg (on test)
The XF’s Ingenium motor is gutsy and willing when it counts.
The washer bottle won’t win any design prizes. Refilling shouldn’t be this clumsy.