It’s official: my love affair with the XFís íEcoí mode is over. Iíve tried so hard to bond with the Jaguarís economy-minded driving mode ñ the XF is a great executive management company car, after all ñ but we were just not meant to be. I prefer quick, decisive gearshifts, and sadly the carís automatic gearbox and throttle response approached life in a far too relaxed, laid-back way. Which is a shame, but the economy benefits are, in an admittedly unscientific way, marginal at the very best.
Thereís no question of dividing up the CD collection or petitioning for custody of the dog, however, as the relationship still has a lot going for it. The standard driving mode works well and, if you need more oomph, the user configurable sport setting livens up proceedings considerably. Furthermore, the carís looks continue to turn heads, which makes a change from the small-medium-large design theme adopted by some of Jaguarís German rivals. The XFís bold-looking nose sure makes it easy to spot in a motorway services car park full of cars driven by middle management drones.
And, if youíre a car anorak like me, youíll appreciate the look and feel of the XFís cabin switchgear. Mercedes-Benz has let the side down by flogging its buttons and column stalks to Tesla, Aston Martin and Infiniti, thus diluting its ëpremiumí appeal. This logic extends to the XFís infotainment screen and, in my case, the optional fully digital main instrument display. In a world of widescreen car displays, my preference is for portrait orientation, as it helps with viewing the map, although I have no issues with Jaguarís choice of user interface ñ top marks for the big onscreen buttons and the super crisp typography. That screen does throw out a lot of light though, and has had me routinely reaching for the Saab-like ëblack panelí button to minimise the distraction at night.
For a car promoted on the back of sporty driving characteristics, Iíve found the XF to be a surprise winner on the convenience front. Iíve already praised its keyless entry and ignition system and, in the depths of winter, I was most grateful for the cold-busting power of the heated front windscreen, steering wheel and front seats. Granted, none of this is new technology, but the ability to relax in comfort as your four-wheeled ice cube melts is priceless on sub-zero days. If only the heated screenís area matched up with the windscreen wiper sweep; cue a few awkward and noisy wiper sweeps until all the ice has melted.
Iíd file that engineering under ëfirst world problemsí and certainly donít expect any sympathy for moaning from my gilded cage. But it does prove that, for all the hype, no car is perfect ñ least of all anything in the premium market. It continues to be more than good enough for an average user like me, though. And for all its luxury appointments, itís also a practical workhorse; the boot swallowed an adult-size wheelchair without any fuss, swearing or grazed knuckles.
Date arrived: 23rd August 2016
Fuel economy: 65.7mpg (combined) 46.8mpg (on test)
Heated windscreen and front seats pack a powerful and welcome punch in the winter.
A pity, then, that the heated screen and wiper sweep don’t align, resulting in wiper rubber scraping over icy glass.