Jaguar XF 2.7 Diesel long-term test review

By the CAR road test team

Long Term Tests

05 October 2009 10:01

Long-term test update - 05 October 2009

So the XF has gone back to Jaguar. Sob, sniff. It’s been a great companion over the past eight months and a reminder that our relationship with cars definitely shifts over an extended test. Jump in for a quick road test and you appraise merely the surface dynamics; to dig under the skin and really rate the cabin details, the real-world boot capacity, proper handling, actual fuel economy, what the seats are really like to sit in for days at a time – this all takes a longer test.

The design has been fully absorbed now. Remember all the fuss over the XF back in 2007? Pah! It seems a pussycat now, and not in the slightest bit controversial. Blame the even edgier XJ and the softening passage of time. I like the XF style, but reckon they should facelift those front lights come mid-life refresh time.

Inside is the real treasure trove. The XF cabin is brilliant, with great build quality, lovely surfaces to touch and a sense of theatre that makes you smile every time you climb onboard. Cool vodka bar nightlighting, those swivelling air vents and pop-up gear selector – each does its bit to create a modern ambience. It’s comfy too, with just enough low-perched Jag sportiness to keep you connected to the tarmac underfoot.

We might most remember the style imparted by Jag’s exec, but it’s a very competitive drive to boot. Ours was an early 2.7 Diesel, now superseded by the much more excellent 3.0-litre V6 TDs. I wouldn’t totally discount the 2.7 if you’re considering a secondhand XF, but if you can I’d definitely recommend stretching to the latest dervs.

All three iterations of Jag’s diesel XF are quiet and refined, but the brace of 3.0s are where the action is at. And the XF is fun to drive – with class-leading steering feel, planted handling and a tremendous drivetrain whose paddles actively encourage you to ping up and down the ZF six-speed auto. In a diesel! Just a shame those paddles are cheap and plasticky (see our Lexus IS-F for how to do tactile, metal gear paddles).

Regular readers will have seen the electrical glitches that blighted our XF (full details below). I won’t go into this again here, suffice to say the problems never recurred once Jag fixed them. It was a lasting blow to our experience, reminding us how unreliable Jags have been in the past. At least our XF didn’t miss a mechanical beat and, on balance and having studied numerous ownership surveys, I’d believe our case was more likely a one-off than a sign of hidden woes.

In one of our last journeys in the XF, we drove down to McLaren’s Woking HQ to see the MP4-12C (pictured). Our saloon wafted editor McNamara, assistant ed Chris Chilton and me there and back in total comfort, averaged over 30mpg at a fair lick and even indulged sideways Chilton on the odd roundabout on the return leg.

It’s that kind of car, the XF. It ticks many buttons and – for all its faults – I’d still have one over an A6, 5-series or E-class if I were in the market for a characterful executive diesel.

By Tim Pollard

 

Logbook

Total Mileage

Since Last Report

Overall MPG

Since Last report

Fuel Costs

Other Costs

Highs

Lows

  12,079 miles

  494 miles

  31.1 mpg

  37.6 mpg

  £50.38

  none

  Sassy design, fabulous cabin, spirited drive

  Electrical woes, stiff ride, weak 2.7 D

 



Previous reports

10 August 2009 Jag XF interior gets the thumbs up
20 July 2009 Ben Barrys Jag XJ review
15 June 2009 Repairing the XF's wheels
27 May 2009 Police-spec XF
6 May 2009 The route of our Jaguar electrical problems
28 April 2009 The XF's iPod connection actually works 
18 March 2009 Jaguar XF 2.7 Diesel: the road test review
4 February 2009 How our XF has fared in the worst snow for 18 years
23 January 2009 Jaguar XF: the winter test
29 December 2008 Meeting an old Jaguar S-type
3 December 2008 Jaguar XF long-term test hello
16 October 2008 Speccing our long-term Jaguar XF

 

Jag XF interior gets the thumbs up - 10 August 2009

Funny how quickly cars lose their ‘newness’. That showroom sheen, the head-turning novelty factor. Our XF still feels ‘new’ every time I look at it and if I return after a few days in something else it continues to surprise with its modernity, but I’m pretty sure that the new 2010 XJ will change our opinion of the XF. Goalpost-moving cars have a tendency to recalibrate our senses, after all.

So, yes, the XJ will probably render the XF slightly old-hat when sales start later this year – but that’s not strictly fair. With a raft of new engines, the red-hot XFR and model-year upgrades to the whole range, the XF is in fact at the top of its game right now.

Nowhere is this more apparent than sitting in the cosy cabin. You’ve probably spotted that my favourite part of the XF’s repertoire is the interior. That start-up routine – pulsing starter button, swivelling air vents – is finely judged and still isn’t annoying me after nearly a year of use. But they’ve somehow hit a rich seam of comfort and practicality: the XF’s cockpit works well and makes you feel special. It’s no mean feat. Take the steering wheel switches, for example; the cruise control is a lovely tactile rubbery jogwheel that feels good and is easy-peasy to operate.

The Jag XF’s seats have proved comfortable on short and long journeys alike, and their leather is wearing well. Granted, we’ve only done 12,000 miles in our eight months with the car so it’s hardly been a stellar long-distance runner. Combined with an electrically operated steering column, everyone in the office has found it a cinch to find the perfect driving position. You’ll be a bit more uncomfortable in the rear, mind, and the back seat isn’t as commodious as some rival German exec fodder. You can fold down the rear seats if you’re moving bulky items though.

I’m glad to report that everything has worked perfectly since our electrical gremlins were fixed. They dented our confidence in the XF’s reliability, but normal service has since resumed. Let’s see if it can hold out until its imminent departure.

What don’t we like inside the XF? Not much. The proximity switch on the glovebox is a gimmick that doesn’t work very well. In theory, you hover your hand over to open it – but the reality is you have to prod the metallic switch several times before the lid pops down. And some colleagues – notably Greg Fountain – found the touchscreen way too fiddly, although as a regular user I am in fact a big fan. The good news is that the XJ ushers in the latest iteration of Jag’s touchscreen tech and it’s even more intuitive.

If I were ordering an XF today, I would change few of our car’s details. I’d skip the rich oak wood that never quite delivered on its promise and just looked too grey. Other XFs I’ve driven with the modern satin American walnut or clubby burr walnut were far more elegant inside. Stepping outside for a minute, the midnight black metallic looked cool but – that perennial black car bugbear – it looked dusty too quickly.

By Tim Pollard

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Ben Barrys Jag XJ review - 20 July 2009

Road test editor Ben Barry recently spent some time in the CAR Jag XF. Here’s a list of his snapshot thoughts he pinged over to keeper Tim Pollard:

1. I really like the XF’s pop-up gear selector – how you can switch the engine off while still in R or D and it slots itself in Park. I also like how you can select Reverse while you’re rolling forward without lurching all over the place – it’s much more flexible, like a manual, than a traditional auto if you do this.

2. It’s odd that the Jag’s boot is so convenient to open, yet so hard to close. It’s so stiffly sprung. Surely it needs an electro-button thing – or at least a better handle and a less reluctant closing action.

3. The gaps for Isofix child-seat attachment are less obvious than on modern BMWs. The clips themselves are hard to locate, too, and the leather trim around them will be easier to mark.

4. The fey blue lighting on the XF’s dials is too hard to read in the day.

5. The 2.7 diesel’s throttle response is too slushy. It makes for terrifying junction/roundabout getaways – and is brought into sharp focus by the excellent new 3.0-litre diesels. I can see why they’re killing off the 2.7.

6. Then just the usual XF foibles. The ride is too hard, performance generally acceptable but lacking when you really call for it, noise a bit truck-like at times.

If that sounds a bit negative, it’s not meant to be. The XF remains an interesting alternative – but for me it doesn’t quite match the all-round talent of a 5-series or E-class. I love the interior, it’s comfy in the back seats, but there are just too many niggles for it to be a class leader. Even with the new 3.0-litre diesels.

By Ben Barry

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Repairing the XF's wheels - 15 June 2009

Our extended test of the Jaguar XF 2.7 Diesel is coming to an end. Time, then, to fix up the 19in alloy wheels which have suffered a few encounters with the kerbs of Cambridgeshire. We visited Chips Away, the local Northamptonshire franchise of the national bodycare, alloy wheel refurbishment and window tinting service and asked for a quote.

Two of the optional Carelia alloys sported light nicks after a light skirmish with solid objects, while one of the 19-inchers had a rather more serious grind around part of the rim. Chips Away had a quick look, confirmed they could do all the work in a day and would quote around £60-70 per corner.

I'd never seen alloys being refurbished before and was interested to see them work their magic. If damage is only cosmetic (like on our XF), they sand back the nicks and dents to get a smooth finish, and then paint and lacquer the wheel back to its former glory.  Attack a kerb with rather more gusto, and they'll use a special mousse to fill out the damage, reshape and finish with an identical paint. They can repair virtually every sort of alloy wheel - only rims with special mirror finishes can prove tricky.

I returned later that same afternoon to find all four wheels in pristine condition. I really couldn't tell the difference and was impressed by the colour match Chips Away had achieved. The only problem? I (and more importantly, the rest of the CAR team) now need to avoid any more solid objects before the car heads back to Coventry!

Would I choose the Carelia 19s again? Visually, they work a treat and the step-up in cost from the Premium Luxury's standard 18in Cygnus alloys was a reasonable £750 (trade up from the 17s and you'll be stung for double that). My main beef is with the ride: the XF Diesel on the big wheels has a stiff quality quite different from Jags of yore. After 10,000 miles, I've adjusted but still think a touch more comfort would be preferable. But have you seen an XF on standard Libra 17s? I wouldn't recommend that either...

By Tim Pollard  

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Police-spec XF - 27 May 2009

Got an idea for my long-term XF. Jag today announced a police spec XF – with the full livery, blues-and-twos, and hidden strobe lights behind the mesh grille. Any chance of upgrading our long-termer, Jaguar? It might speed up my daily commute.

Sadly not. But today’s announcement got me thinking. Why doesn’t plod buy British? German police buy German, les flics in France would choke on their champignons if you suggested they drove a Honda or Nissan.

The XF Diesel, especially in new S form pictured, would be an idea pursuit car. The new, higher power XF cranks out a stolid 271bhp and ticks all the key detective criteria: 0-60mph in 5.9sec, combined economy of 42mpg and CO2 of 179g/km. No wonder we rated it so highly in our first drive review. And the interior of our XF is a really comfy place for traffic cops to while away the hours on motorway patrol.

I just wish the British state were more patriotic in its buying decisions. Sod official choice lists, residuals and whole-life costs sanctioned by some soulless suit in Whitehall. Government ministers and policemen alike should be buying British and supporting UK plc at times like these. It’s no wonder our neighbouring countries’ car industries nowadays dwarf our own domestic business.

By Tim Pollard

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The route of our electrical problems - 6 May 2009

Regular readers of CAR Magazine will know we’ve suffered a string of mishaps in our Jaguar XF test car. All of them electrical. The worst kind of fault in a car, coming and going with the predictability of a student’s bank balance.

It all started when the XF’s alarm went off while we were away, draining the battery. A quick jump start restored charge but also left the hazard lights permanently on. A tricky state of affairs – left flashing, they too would drain the battery again. Aggghhh!

A call to the Marshall dealer in Peterborough revealed the car’s electrics might have been zapped by the battery drain. They suggested removing and reattaching the battery lead, forcing a hard reset of the system. Which did the trick. Marvellous. Until a few other electrical gremlins crept in…

As we’ve detailed in print, the driver’s window then refused to lower for managing ed Greg Fountain, the central touch-screen froze for production guru Glen Waddington (disabling most of the car’s creature comforts) and I then discovered that the fuel filler flap stuck shut. Quite tricky that last one; I was stranded on a forecourt on fumes and could hear the catch moving but failing to open. Ever-helpful Marshalls advised a sleight of hand with a credit card – helping to pop the catch.

All seemingly small foibles, but ones that have rather dented our confidence in a £40k exec. Jaguar used to have a poor reputation for reliability but now regularly top JD Power and other owners’ surveys. It’s just a shame that our XF has proved the exception. Jaguar, alarmed by our report in CAR Magazine (May 2009), insisted on taking the car back for further investigation.

Apparently the electrical glitches were caused by a water leak through the boot seal, which had corroded part of the power supply hardware nestling in the trunk. The fuel filler flap release is a know issue and subject to a 'soft recall' (dealers fix it under warranty when you take your car in for a service).

The XF is back now and performing faultlessly. Sadly, as a now-outdated 2.7, it’s being called back. Jaguar no longer sells it now the spangly new – and rather excellent – 3.0-litre diesels are here, so we’re on our last few weeks with our XF.

By Tim Pollard 

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The iPod connection actually works – 28 April 2009

My iPod isn’t your all-singing, all-dancing modern one. It’s five years old and I often find it doesn’t work with car manufacturers’ plug-in adaptors. Every Audi I’ve driven in the past year refuses to acknowledge its existence. It’s hugely frustrating.

So imagine my pleasure to discover our long-term XF works seamlessly with my slightly out-of-date software. Plug the MP3 player into the full iPod connection lead nestling in the centre armrest and you have instant access to more than 5000 songs in my ageing jukebox. Despite its age, my iPod (they’d call it classic today) still works brilliantly and has a more than sufficient 20GB of storage. I hate the modern throwaway culture and don’t intend to replace it until it stops working.

So it’s good news that Jaguar backdated the XF’s software for those in the technological wilderness like me. The iPod is controlled by the Jag’s touchscreen or the rotary scrolling thumbwheels on the steering wheel – and is a cinch to use through the good quality standard stereo. You might have spotted I’m no stereo snob, so elected not to spec the apparently excellent Bowers & Wilkins optional hi-fi.

Just a couple of gripes with the Jag’s iPod connectivity. The multimedia display shows only a handful of characters of the track being played, leaving a rather truncated title of nearly every song I own. Apart from No.1 by the band A. It can cope with that one!

By Tim Pollard

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Jaguar XF 2.7 Diesel: the road test review - 18 March 2009

Somebody pointed out that I haven’t written enough about the Jaguar XF’s on-road dynamics. And now we’ve spent more than 5000 miles getting to know BN58 WXM, we’re well placed to comment on what it’s like to drive. Everyone in the office has had the chance for a decent punt in our 2.7-litre V6 turbodiesel – and, for once, the consensus of opinion is pretty united on the XF.

In a nutshell, Jag has really hit the bullseye. The company mantra of making beautiful fast cars is – mostly – held intact. Is it beautiful? We’ve already written reams in print and online on the subject, and I guess you’ll already have made your mind up. Me? I’m a firm fan, with a few reservations on the lights/grille facial expression.

Is it fast? Er, no. I only have two gripes with the XF’s dynamics and the 2.7-litre turbodiesel’s pace is one of them. To a man, the office staffers agree that the 204bhp/320lb ft 2.7 struggles to deliver the thrust expected at this level. Transient response, when you require a slug of acceleration to pull out of a roundabout or even zip past motorway traffic uphill, are just too sluggish. The diesel XF is hardly outright slow, but the expected standards in this milieu are high when you’re competing against the Audi A6, BMW 5-series, Mercedes E-class and Lexus GS. The 2.7 TD simply doesn’t compare well on acceleration.

But if you’ve read my first drive on the new 3.0-litre turbodiesel going on sale in late March 2009, you’ll know that Jaguar is about to fix this solitary gripe about the performance. The new Diesel S is stonkingly fast where the 2.7 is annoyingly adequate. Plus it’s cleaner (179g/km plays 199g/km) and more fuel efficient (42.0mpg versus 37.6mpg) to boot.

You can’t accuse any of Jag’s V6 diesels of being anything other than creamy smooth. Our 2.7 is uber refined and – as is so often the case with modern derv units – you’ll be blissfully unaware of its diet unless you observe its laid-back, low-revving nature and low-pegged redline. It’s always quiet and even when revved remains impeccable manners.

On the move, the XF really scores highly. You sit in a comfy seat properly engineered for its native right-hand drive. Each limb is correctly positioned for prodding and pulling wheels, levers and pedals – and the steering in particular merits special attention. The XF’s helm is well judged, with decent feedback and a rack set up with a delicious balance between corner-slinging agility and relaxed M-way cruising. There’s none of that false-electro heaviness built in to sully steering feel, either. I love it.

The XF is an equal with the class best for a B-road blast; it responds keenly and quickly to steering inputs and the body remains flat and hunkered down to the tarmac. My rural existence includes plenty of back-road driving and I’ve come to enjoy the (standard) paddle-shift on the steering wheel – the ZF ’box is brilliantly synched to the V6 and you often forget you’re in a diesel when you finger-flick up and down the ratios. It’s just a shame that even in Sport mode it’ll eventually over-ride your gear selection once you home in on the redline.

Back in its more natural habitat, the XF is a great long-distance cruiser. I’ve already mentioned the hushed engine noise and wind roar is well suppressed too. The only fly in the ointment is the busy ride, owing to the chunkier, optional 19-inch Carelia wheels on our car. Yes, yes – we know that vanity has won out over practicality, but the XF is one of those cars that really does look miles better on bigger rims. We aim to try out some XFs on smaller wheels in the coming months to try and find the optimum wheel/comfort balance.

In a nutshell? The XF is a great drive. It suits my executive car wants better than any other rival (although I’ve yet to drive the new E-class myself). Sadly, there have been some reliability glitches in the meantime which we’re about to get sorted. More on that in my next report.

By Tim Pollard

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How our XF has fared in the worst snow for 18 years – 4 February 2009

Had a good chance last night to test the XF in the worst snow Britain’s seen for 18 years. I wrote recently about how the XF has fared in the winter chill – and the heated windscreen, wipers and toasty seats have been a big hit – but this week’s snowfall provided the first white-out test for our exec. [Note to overseas readers: snow is a big issue in the UK and the whole country grinds to a standstill at the first hint of a snowflake!]

It was our first chance to test the Jaguar SelectDrive’s winter setting and I used this to negotiate the wintry roads near CAR’s office last night. It sets the ZF box to pull away in second and generally softens gear selections to avoid any abrupt wheelspin.

It worked well on the unmarked back roads on my commute (I live in the middle of nowhere!) but I still had some slithery, slidey moments on the way home. Braking downhill on a stretch of ungritted – and very white – tarmac brought the back end swinging around, but the XF regained its composure and negotiated the rest of the hill locked in first gear.

By Tim Pollard

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Jaguar XF: the winter test - 23 January 2009

We’re in the middle of one of the coldest winters the temperate British Isles has experienced in recent years, so how’s the Jag XF coping with flurries of snow and regular frosts? (Overseas readers – please bear with us; the UK normally grinds to a halt at the first flake of snow!)

The XF has scored a B+ in its winter workload. In particular, I’m a fan of the heated front windscreen which clears frost in around a minute and proves far quicker in a defrosting twin test with my wife’s similarly equipped Ford Focus. Ice scrapers and frosted fingers are a thing of the past.

Heated front seats are a boon, too – they don’t switch off after a short period like Audis’ rump roasters can – and the wipers do an efficient job of keeping the screen clear. We’ve only had to refill the screenwash once so far at around 3000 miles.

On the downside, the outside temperature gauge is hidden on sub-screens of the central display – annoying when you’re on ice watch. And the headlamps don’t seem as powerful as rival systems I remember on the Merc E-class, for example. Winter muck dims their range surprisingly fast, too.

Needless to say, the midnight metallic black paint is a real chore to keep clean. I’ve had a black car before, so I was prepared for the salty sheen. Bring on the warmer spring climes.

By Tim Pollard

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Meeting a Jaguar S-type - 29 December 2008

Jaguar S-TypeIf you’ve seen the New January 2009 issue of CAR Magazine, you’ll see that we’ve shot our XF side-by-side with an original 1966 S-type. It reminded me how far Jaguars have come in the intervening 42 years: the XF is as modern as the S-type is period, but very much the right design direction for Jaguar v2.0. 

But we’re not talking chalk and cheese here – there are some genetic links between the different generations. Just look at the horizontal brightwork built into the XF’s spoiler, echoing the S-type’s chromed bumpers. And the more I see those headlamps, the more they look redolent of the twin roundels of yore. 

The S-type is for sale – contact owner Charles Atkinson on +44 7971 883083 if you’re interested in buying his tidy example.    

By Tim Pollard 

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Jaguar XF long-term test hello - 3 December 2008

The XF arrived at CAR Towers a few weeks ago now but – magazine print schedules being what they are – we’re only starting to report on Jag’s new exec challenger in print and online. Is our year with the XF 2.7 diesel Premium Luxury going to be a long love affair or a slow slide towards ambivalence/mutual hatred/wished we had a 5-series? We’re about to find out...

Our Midnight metallic black test car arrived with just a few hundred miles on the clock and confirmed everything I thought about the XF’s design: it’s a colossal break with tradition for Jaguar, that most conservative of car makers. Where the backwards S-type traded on its predecessors’ values ad nauseam, the XF turns 180 degrees and talks a whole new design language. This is the culmination of several years of work by styling chief Ian Callum; he has only been able to work on the XK sports cars and small fry such as the X-type Estate until now. The XF embodies everything that’s new about the freshly confident Jaguar.

Do I like the look? Yes I do. Our XF looks epic in its black paintwork, the strong chromed DLO (that’s side window line to you and me) contrasting with the oceanic deep of the bodywork. I admit I rue the dilution of the C-XF’s bolder front end – those lights! – but the XF 90% gels in my eyes. I’m glad we picked the 19in alloys though, as the XF needs big rims to work. I’ve seen some on standard 17s and they look pathetic.

Step inside an XF and the transformation is even more pronounced. This is one very different ambience. Your senses are overloaded by information alien to any previous Jag owner: it’s a clean, modern design, the centre console mercifully uncluttered (XK owners will recognise the touch-screen), and the JaguarDrive gear selector nestles intriguingly hidden flush in the console. Thanks to keyless entry, you merely slide in and the starter button glows red like a beating heart. Sounds naff, but Jag just about pulls it off. At least they didn’t start banging on about ‘Power Beauty Soul’ like Aston Martins.

So you thumb the button and the 2.7-litre V6 twin-turbo diesel whirrs into life with a distant hum. Four dashboard air vents revolve up, like peeling eyelids and the rotary gearlever rises from its hiding cubby. It’s anthropomorphic this XF, I can tell you. Jaguar has walked a tightrope between gimmickry and 21st century cool, but I love the start-up routine. Will I still be so impressed after a year? We’ll soon find out.

But it’s not just fresh design motifs that impress. The sheer quality of the XF has been commented on by several CAR writers. Yes, we expect a car that costs thirty-something grand to have lustrous paint and a solid cabin, but we couldn’t always say that of past Jaguars. Our XF feels utterly hewn from solid. I’ll be surprised if this saloon feels tired after a year’s hard use.

So has our honeymoon all been wonderful? Not quite. Cosmetically, I’m getting used to the new front end design and a delivery driver or colleague managed to kerb the nearside rear alloy before I even drove it. Grrr. Will that black paintwork be a pain to clean? Probably, but I hope a weekly dust is worth it for the way it shows off the XF’s lines. And one other thing: before I even set off, I notice the plastic gear selector paddles on the wheel feel cheap by comparison with the solid metal flaps on the Lexus IS-F. Small details count in this arena.

And then you swivel the JaguarDrive dial to Drive and pull away. But how the XF performs on the road is a story for another day.

By Tim Pollard

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Speccing our long-term Jaguar XF - 16 May 2008

I could have done with a personal shopper when I specced up our long-term test Jaguar XF – to fetch me the endless combinations of colours, toys and sizes from the rail and hold it up by the mirror. As it was, I used Jag’s marvellously simple online configurator. Unlike Mini’s website, this one actually worked well on our Apple Mac computers.

Here’s our train of thought, to give you an insight into how CAR chooses our long-term test cars.

1) Would we like to run a Jaguar XF long-termer?

Hell yes! This is one of the most intriguing Jags since the Mondeo alike X-type, a real departure that’s laden with significance as Jaguar fights the sales slump and tries to reinvent itself as a purveyor of cutting-edge modern luxury cars.

2) Which XF would we like to test?

Four engines are available on the XF at launch (2.7 D, 3.0 V6, 4.2 V8 in naturally aspirated and supercharged form) and this left us with a simple dilemma. Jaguar admits 80 percent of its sales are diesels. In these credit-straitened times, we had to test the derv for this to be a test with any real-world relevance. It helps that the 2.7 D carries exactly the same price tag – £33,900 – as the entry-level petrol 3.0 V6.

3) Trim level?

The XF has a blissfully simple range structure. The two entry-level V6 cars have a choice of Luxury or Premium Luxury trim (the V8s all come in a single, bells-and-whistle spec). We upgraded to the £37,500 Premium Luxury trim. The modest premium brings – take a deep breath – heated, power folding door mirrors, heated windscreen and seats, bigger alloy wheels (including a proper spare instead of a space saver), softer leather, 10-way adjustable electric seats with memory, leather dashtop, burr walnut veneer, keyless entry, auto dimming rear-view mirror and a carpet set. Choosing Premium Luxury turns the XF from well equipped to pretty-much-loaded – and we reckon the extra pampering is worth the £3600 premium.

4) Which options did you add to your XF?

Thus equipped, there’s hardly anything missing from the XF, so we were restrained with the extras. I popped in the digital DAB radio (£250) to save me from the horrors of Peterborough FM, bi-xenon headlamps (£450) to enlighten my rural driving habitat and the upgraded 19in Carelia alloy wheels (£750). I umm’ed and ahh’ed about the latter for some time and sought the advice of our road testers. This is another Jaguar that looks best on big wheels – I remembered design chief Ian Callum telling me a year ago that this car worked best with the 20in rims (unavailable with the diesel, so the 19s were the next best thing). A drive of a diesel with the Carelias at the Millbrook test track confirmed a well judged ride/handling balance – and Jaguar offered to swap the wheels halfway through the year if we desired, as part of our story. We’ll see if we’re dropping fillings left, right and centre later in our year with the car and may downgrade the rims accordingly.

5) And the technicolour dreamcoat bit?

It’s quite colour sensitive, the XF. As you’d expect on an exec, the palette is largely restricted to grown-up silvers, blacks and chromic shades – but some of the hues fail to show off the XF’s edgy lines to maximum effect. Although I’ve experienced the nightmare of keeping black cars clean before, I couldn’t resist the elegant simplicity of the Jaguar in black. We chose the flecked Midnight black metallic, which adds a bit of lift to the sombre Ebony black. I’m no fan of easily stained, pale leather interiors so it was charcoal – more black – inside. It’s thrown into relief by the aluminium trim (there’s plenty of it in the XF’s cabin) and it should suit my conservative tastes down to the ground.

That’s the spec sorted – one of the huge perks of this job. Now we’re just playing the waiting game. I’m counting down the days like an impatient child with an Advent calendar…

Agree with our choice of spec? How would you order your dream XF? Click ‘Add your comment’ and let us know

By Tim Pollard

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