Call me old fashioned, but I rather like my premium motor cars to have more than four cylinders under the bonnet. The recent downsizing trend has seen some fantastically clever engineering solutions ñ three-cylinder petrol engines, multiple turbo installations ñ but thereís no substitute for capacity when youíre paying big bucks.
I think you know where this is going; the XFís four-pot motor hasnít exactly won me over in the refinement and performance stakes. Sure, the car is quick enough when it matters, but it can and does sound a little uncouth when cold and under even moderate acceleration. Sure, there is a smoother six-pot available for those that are willing to pay more, I just wish a few of those rough edges couldíve been better filed off during the development phase.
Perspective is key here. Jaguar isnít alone in this downsizing race, although premium cars do tend to suffer more than your average three-cylinder supermini. For example, Volvoís decision to embrace downsizing was applauded, but Iím always left wanting more after driving an XC90.
What I do acknowledge is that this XF is a fantastic cruiser. This observation probably runs counter to the carís R-Sport trim, but the slightly firm set up is a welcome addition in the presence of corners. And for all the change at Jaguar in recent years ñ new models, new design direction, an avalanche of new technology ñ the company hasnít lost its ability to make cars that are unflappable in the face of poor quality road surfaces.
And, sales performance aside, Jaguar hasnít lost the ability to generate mountains of goodwill from the general public. How do I know this? I live in a quiet suburban area, complete with small roads and tricky junctions. It might not be a scientific observation, but Iíve benefited from a considerable amount of fellow road user generosity when behind the wheel of the XF.
Being let out of junctions is a classic example, with the ëafter youí scenario when facing oncoming traffic when the road isnít quite wide enough thanks to parked cars, another example of Jaguar-related good fortune. Seriously though, I know from bitter experience that such generosity is rarely afforded to those driving cars built overseas.
My long and meandering point is that itís all too easy to be fixated by niggling little issues, when the reality of ownership is a lot brighter in the real world. The XF is a well-rounded package; passengers love it, the bold interior colour scheme prompts nothing but positive comments, while the boot swallows everything I throw at it. I ëgetí why people choose the XF over the German competition. For all the technical prowess of a new 5 Series or E-Class, the XF possesses more character and, from my real-world encounters, garners more goodwill from fellow road users and passengers. You canít create that in a workshop at the N¸rburgring.
Date arrived 23rd August 2016
Fuel economy 65.7mpg (combined) 42.3mpg (on test)
It’s the badge; nothing comes close if you’re counting goodwill from fellow road users.
The days are getting longer, which means I don’t have to curse the less than stellar headlights anymore.