Final report: Jaguar XF long-term test
20 September 2017
|P11D price £35,895|
|As tested £45,685|
|Official consumption 68.9mpg|
Final report - A fond farewell
It's always a bittersweet day at granitekitchen headquarters when we say goodbye to a long-term test car and our most recent departure was one of the saddest to date, as it was time to hand the XF keys back to Jaguar.
Its arrival at the office last year was met with a lot of expectation. It had been one of my predecessor's favourite cars of 2016 and was given a rare 10/10 rating in its first-drive review.
So, after 12 months and over 22,000 miles, do we still rate the XF as highly?
There's a lot to like, that's for sure, and the first area the XF scores well in is the way the car looks. It's arguably the best looking of all the executive saloons, thanks to its striking front end, chunky grille and sleek lines.
You'll certainly notice it coming in your rear view mirror and, like many cars today, the XF is also available in a sports-oriented trim, called R-Sport. This adds features like blackout windows, a slight rear spoiler and special alloy wheels, which we're not particular fans of, as well as a sports suspension - well worth considering if design is near the top of your
The second thing that really impressed is the saloon's whole-life costs. Lightweight aluminium construction and a range of efficient engines help the XF deliver low running costs. Add to that an impressive residual value figure, and the XF in our spec here is actually the cheapest per mile compared with its key rivals, the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
It's not all about figures on paper, though; out on the road, the XF is a great all-round choice too.
Although it lacks the handling prowess of the BMW, most drivers will be more than satisfied with how the XF performs day to day. There's loads of grip on offer and the steering offers plenty of feedback and is expertly weighted when in Dynamic mode. Meanwhile, the car's comfort levels are one of the XF's standout qualities. Our car's 2.0-litre diesel with 163hp and 380Nm of torque offers a good compromise between running costs and performance, with the 0-62mph sprint achieved in a very respectable 8.2 seconds.
Although, like most cars, we've struggled to come close to the official 68.9mpg figure, we've averaged over 50mpg for the year, which is a good performance. And when we've deployed Eco mode, we've seen these figures improve to a mid-50s average, which is very good.
Helping make life easier on the motorway are a range of safety features like blind-spot monitoring, a driver alert function that advises you to take a break if it detects your concentration has slipped, cruise control and a lane-keeping aid, most of which form part of an Active Safety pack costing £840 - well worth the investment.
Although there's no denying the XF's impressive practicality credentials and spaciousness, and the materials used around the cabin are top notch, the infotainment system left us feeling a little frustrated on more than one occasion.
Technology is becoming so important these days, and many of the team found the touchscreen temperamental to operate at times. It sometimes failed to pick up touches and swipes, while some of the areas to press along the bar at the bottom of the screen are too small and distracting to navigate around on the move.
Jaguar's Head-Up Display Pack (£1,245), which provides extra information, including satnav directions so your eyes never leave the road, also felt dated and very expensive.
These are small niggles for what has overall been an excellent car to live with, though, and one we are going to miss a great deal here in the office. The XF's superb comfort levels, sophisticated design and practicality credentials have impressed, and thanks to some excellent whole-life costs, it remains one of the best all-round executive saloons on the market today.
Our average consumption 50.1mpg
19th report - Touchscreen simplicity
The cabin infotainment system has become almost as important as how a car drives these days. Being easy to use, with all the modern connected features, is a key part of judging whether these systems are good or not.
Happily, our XF comes with all the toys to keep today's generation happy. The metaphorical buttons area is so large it's easy to select the various functions, even if you're all thumbs like me. The graphics are excellent too, and I like the fact that multiple functions are on display at the same time; for example, your phone and the sat-nav.
However, it's good that the dual-zone air-con controls and heated seat buttons are housed out of the infotainment system, although you can turn the latter on using the infotainment screen. As much as I like modern infotainment systems, swiping and pressing through various screens just to operate the cabin temperature ? as in many systems ? seems like overkill to me.
In fact, my only real gripe isn't exactly targeted directly at the XF, but touchscreens in general, because they soon become messy with fingerprints and they're not the easiest thing to clean. Cars that include rotary dials are easier to use and stay smudge-free; so much better, in my book.
The Bluetooth is so easy to set up my dad could do it and the sat-nav, which is upgraded in our long-termer, is simple to use too, never failing to help me find my location. When we first took delivery of the car, the absence of Apple CarPlay didn't bother me at all. However, just a year later, I've become so accustomed to the system being included on new cars that I actually miss it in the XF now.
However, included on our long-term XF test car is the InControl Touch Pro Pack at £1,745, which includes an upgraded 38w sound system with 11 speakers and a subwoofer. Choosing this pack also beefs up the touchscreen to ten inches and upgrades the sat-nav system so that it is more intuitive.
If you like your music, then this is an option well worth considering. The sound system offers excellent quality and resolution throughout the car, even staying crisp on a broad range of tracks from power ballads to '90s dance music ? my personal favourite.
There are more technically advanced infotainment systems than the XF's, but its crisp graphics and simplicity to use means it gets the thumbs up from us.
Our average consumption 50.2mpg
18th report - Crunching the numbers
Our custodianship with OW16 OOU will soon be coming to an end and the past 11 months with the XF have shown what an excellent all-rounder the Jaguar really is.
Comfortable and well equipped with a sophisticated interior, the XF also stacks up very well against the competition for whole-life costs too. It's a very competitive arena with its three main rivals being the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6 - all hugely popular and impressive executive saloons.
It may not be a class leader for driveability, interior luxury or advanced tech ? one of its rivals always manages to pip it to the post ? but that's not to say the XF doesn't have all of these qualities in abundance and, on paper, it proves to be the very best of the bunch.
Our car, in mid-spec R-Sport trim, has a P11D of £35,895 and costs less than the entry-level BMW 520d and Mercedes-Benz E220 saloon. Because of this price, and thanks to some competitive running costs figures and SMR costs, the XF is the cheapest of the four cars at 66.0p a mile, compared with the BMW's 70.8p, the Merc's 70.5p and the Audi A6's 71.9p figure.
Residual values are really where the XF shines though, holding 40.9% of its value over three years and 60,000 miles. The comparable E-Class is its closest competitor with 40.6%, while the 5 Series comes in a close third at 39.9%.
We've talked about practicality a lot in previous reports, and the XF stacks up well here against its rivals. Despite being shorter than the model it replaced, there's lots of interior space inside while the boot is also large at 540 litres, bigger than the 5 Series and Audi A6.
The R-Sport trim, as the name suggests, is focused more towards a sportier image and comes with a more aggressive front bumper, a slight spoiler on the boot lid, gloss-black exterior finishes and special 17in alloy wheels as well as a sportier suspension, which happily didn't compromise the ride comfort either. The alloy wheels are my least favourite feature though; they look a little drab and cheap in comparison with the rest of the car's eye-catching features.
Overall, the XF continues to surprise and delight here at granitekitchen headquarters, and we'll be very sad to give up the keys in a few weeks time.
Our average consumption 50.1mpg
17th report - heading to the races
"Can we take Debbie's car?"
That's usually the question I get from most of my friends when we're travelling anywhere that's a fair distance away. However, I'm never too reluctant to play chauffeur, especially with a car that is as renowned for its comfort levels as our long-term Jaguar XF.
Now that my custodianship of the XF is coming to an end, I'm grabbing every available opportunity to get behind the wheel.
This time, we were heading to Doncaster for a day at the races. The 85-mile journey would take around an hour and 40 minutes, with much of that time spent on the A1. granitekitchen has previously commented on the interior roominess of the XF for the driver. However, those in the rear have plenty of leg and headroom too; even adults will find themselves with plenty of space to stretch out.
The large leather seats are comfortable; even the middle seat offers plenty of cushion and support, although three adults over longer distances wouldn't be recommended as it would be a bit of a squeeze. Those in the rear have plenty of storage options, with magazine-holders behind the front seats, practical door pockets, an armrest with cupholders and a cubbie in the door that is ideal for placing your mobile phone - perfect for trips like this one.
There are heated seats for those in the rear as well and air-con vents to help keep everyone warm/cool - the only drawback is that the climate control is only two-zone, so those in the back have to be happy with what the driver and front passenger set for temperature.
The blackened-out windows add a sportier look and more privacy - ideal if any of your friends need to make a quick change before getting to the destination, while ride quality, as previously mentioned, is excellent in the XF. I was so confident of this fact that I recommended my friend paint her nails en route - but it seems even the XF's talents have a limit.
Either way, I'm pretty sure some botched nails will not be enough to prevent my friends from asking me to drive again.
Our average consumption 48.1mpg
16th report - Engaging sport mode
The Jaguar XF has long held a reputation for its comfort levels - however, its sporty credentials often get overlooked. For those seeking real sporty thrills it's the S or racy R models that fit the bill - however, our long-termer has a few tricks up its sleeve to help sate the enthusiasts among us.
Like most cars our XF also comes with different driving modes, which make changes to the throttle, suspension and steering to suit. Choose dynamic (appropriately labelled with a race flag), which you can select via a button just below the auto gearbox, and then Sport mode in the gearbox itself for the best of the car's sporty attributes.
I live out in the countryside so I'm not short of windy lanes or twisty roads, which proved an ideal playground to test our XF. The car's standout quality is its poised ride and handling, helped by the lightweight aluminium construction - like many of the recent cars from Jaguar, a significant amount of weight was taken out of the car in this latest generation and it really shows. Our long-termer feels agile in the corners and quick, despite the engine's modest performance figures, and the 17-inch tyres do a good job of soaking up any lumps or bumps (and many potholes) in the road.
Then there's the steering, which is now electrically power-assisted and feels immediate with feedback offered and well weighted when in Dynamic mode. In the corners the car is sure-footed with loads of grip, and thanks to advanced Torque Vectoring technology, which subtly brakes the wheels through bends, our XF barely gets out of shape, even when entering a corner at high speed.
Like we mentioned already, our 2.0-litre diesel with its 163hp and 380Nm of torque is not the quickest engine in the range, - however apart from when accelerating on hills, you'll never feel short-changed here.
There's plenty of power to accelerate quickly, and officially the 0-62mph sprint is achieved in 8.2 seconds - so fast enough to win the odd drag race.
Our XF is a great motorway cruiser with excellent comfort levels, but for those who crave more driving fun, our car has proven yet again it can wear many hats.
Our average consumption 48.1mpg
15th report - Park life
Can't park? Don't worry, help is at hand, or should that be, out of your hands, with Jaguar's optional Park Assist feature. I tested out its parallel parking technique - with considerable trepidation as I considered how I would explain to the owners of the nearest parked car that it actually wasn't my fault that their car was now sporting a dent.
To initiate the technology, pull up ahead of the space you wish to enter, select the 'Park Assist' symbol on the touchscreen and choose the Parallel Park option. Then follow the instructions in the instrument cluster, bearing in mind that while you don't have to touch the steering wheel, you do have to use your accelerator and brake.
When I tried it, I was instructed to move forward a little, stop and select reverse. And that's when the fun begins, because as you apply a little pressure on the accelerator, the steering wheel can start spinning with a speed that makes you feel like you have a mischievous poltergeist in the cabin for company.
Like any parking manoeuvre, there's a little toing and froing and straightening up to be done before the technology is satisfied it's in the space. The only thing it doesn't do is open the door for you so you can check how close the car is to the kerb.
A Perpendicular Park option is also available for reversing to park side by side with other vehicles, as is Park Exit, which is useful if you don't feel confident getting out of a tight space. You can also bail out of parking automatically - say, to allow another vehicle to pass - by simply holding/turning the steering wheel, or by touching the 'Cancel Park Assist' button on the touch screen.
Our average consumption 48.1mpg
14th report - Motorway maestro
When it comes to comfort there are few cars that nail it as well as the Jaguar XF saloon, and with a humongous 118-mile commute, it's an attribute I rate very highly in the cars that I drive.
Having excellent ride quality, with a suspension that soaks up even the tiniest of bumps in the road, and good sound insulation throughout the cabin is only half the story - our car comes equipped with heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, and cruise control with a speed limiter as standard, which are all essential pieces of kit for the regular motorway traveller.
Place the Jaguar XF in 'normal' mode and the vehicle is a comfortable cruiser, and the long gearing helps to keep fuel economy in check too, which we have seen improve if Eco mode is selected.
For those drivers seeking a few more thrills on their commute, opting for Dynamic and then Sport mode in the automatic gearbox provides you with an entirely different proposition.
Thanks to the lightweight aluminium construction, the car feels agile and poised in the corners, and the steering is direct, with added weight given when Dynamic mode is deployed.
The sportier mode doesn't compromise ride quality too much either, which means even on long journeys your back stays ache-free. Admittedly there are more refined auto gearboxes - Jaguar's eight-speed can feel a little delayed at times when shifting gears, and the 163hp 2.0-litre diesel can be a little noisy at times too.
However, thanks to the 380Nm of torque on offer, the car has plenty of pulling power and is swift when you're on the throttle - ideal when overtaking.
We've passed the halfway point with our time in the XF now and it's proven to be an excellent all-rounder that's risen to every challenge we've thrown at it. The biggest problem is keeping hold of the keys as it's a popular member of the granitekitchen fleet.
Our average consumption 48.1mpg
13th report - Stretch out in style
Despite being shorter than the model it replaced, our Jaguar XF offers significantly more space thanks to a wheelbase that has been extended by 51mm.
Sit in either of the front seats and there's plenty of headroom, and there's more than enough room to stretch out my 5ft 10in frame as much as I like when driving. There's full scope for incremental, electric and manual seat adjustment too, so whoever you are, finding a comfortable driving position won't be a problem.
Meanwhile, in the back there's room for the three kids, whether sat on a booster, in a child seat, or in the middle seat itself. Actually, it's rare for the eldest, who sits in the middle, to moan about discomfort on long journeys. And throughout the cabin there are plenty of places to stash water bottles, keys, change and, much to my annoyance, empty kids' crisp packets.
The boot is also large, measuring 540 litres, and that's bigger than its main saloon rivals in the shape of the BMW 5 Series and the Audi A6, both of which are beaten by 10 litres. The Jaguar also matches the boot space of the Mercedes E-class. It has depth, and fits in all manner of multiple items. However, there is a downside: the rear seats don't come down on our model, so it isn't possible to fit in extra-long items.
Meanwhile, remember when I said I would drive in Eco mode for a while? Well, I have, and without changing my own driving style it has made a difference to the fuel economy by raising the baseline figures by about 3-4mpg, which means the average is creeping up. Plus, while there is a negligible drop-off in terms of performance, you get used to it very quickly and it's worth it when it comes to the improvement in fuel economy.
Our average consumption 48.1mpg
12th report - In a tight spot
People have really started to notice how long the Jag is, and I have to admit that in certain tight parking spaces, it can feel like a pretty big car. For the record, in comparison with its rivals, the car measures in at 4,954mm, which is only a touch longer than the the BMW 5 Series (4,936mm) and the Audi A6s (4,943mm).
However, trying to negotiate my parents' overcrowded road in particular can be a nightmare when visiting when every verge, corner, kerb and legitimate parking bay is usually already taken.
Meanwhile, the same goes for certain, crammed car parks - such as a local theatre on one recent trip - where every millimetre seems to matter when driving in and out. In fact, on a visit to a busy Jaguar dealer, an employee manoeuvred the XF out of a space so narrow I looked on with fear that there would be some very expensive damage done to not one but two cars...
One 30-point(ish) turn later and the car was presented back to me having avoided bumping into anything. It's in situations like these that the car's array of parking systems come in really handy. The multitude of cameras and sensors help stop you bumping into anything, while the Park Assist function will steer you into the tightest spots with millimetric precison. The only issue is getting out of the car again once it's in the space.
Even though the XF feels long in certain situations, with so many cameras, sensors and systems available to help out, every driver should feel confident getting themselves out of, and into, any tight spots.
Our average consumption 48.1
11th report - Extras, extras - read all about them
Our Jaguar XF is full of options that add close to £10k to its £35,895 P11D price.
Working from the outside in, I'm a big fan of the £1,250 adaptive LED headlamps (with daytime running lights), especially the intelligent high-beam system, which switches the lights to low beam when it senses the likes of oncoming traffic or street lights, and then back again when conditions allow.
The Italian Racing Red paintwork provides an extra dollop of sophistication for £690, while if you like the idea of privacy glass (for the rear side and rear screens only) that comes in at £385. For added bling, the chrome side-door treadplates with, in our case, R-Sport script are available for £310, but if you want to go even further, you can put your own "personal motif", although that will cost a staggering £792 instead.
I've touched on some elements of the £2,615 InControl Touch Pro infotainment system with Meridian Sound System before and no doubt will cover aspects of it again in the future. Its screen responds to touch and swipe gestures, and it's the vehicle's hub for the navigation, music, phone, climate and safety systems. I've also covered the camera aspect of the Advanced Parking Assist Pack with Surround Camera (£1,655) in a previous report, although I will definitely be returning to this technology to sample the Park Assist, which, considering I'm wary of trusting even basic cruise control technology, I'm going to be initially very nervous of either allowing the car to parallel or perpendicular park on my behalf.
The Active Safety Pack, worth £840, has seen a great deal of use. It includes Lane Keep Aid and Driver Condition Monitoring, but, as I've written before, it's the Blind Spot Monitor and Closing Vehicle Sensing that I've become most used to.
Finally, Jaguar's Head-Up Display Pack (£1,245) is great for providing extra information, including sat-nav directions, so your eyes never leave the road, while even at the beginning of March the heated seats that are part of the £745 Cold Climate Pack were still seeing plenty of use!
10th report - Go low with Eco
In an attempt to improve the XF's economy figures, which I believe have suffered a little due to it not spending enough time in its natural environment out on the motorway, I've decided it's time to employ all the eco driving tools the Jaguar has at its disposal.
The first and most obvious change to make is to use the car's Eco setting. This is engaged via a switch on the centre console, I've moved away from Normal mode (there's also a Dynamic "high-performance" mode) that the car has spent most of its time in to date.
Eco mode softens the throttle response, while automatic gear changes are "adjusted to encourage an efficient driving style to save fuel". It also turns off the vehicle's heating and ventilation settings, which means I'm sacrificing, some luxuries like the heated seats and steering wheel, which can be tough at this time of year. It's easy to override the system on those particularly frosty mornings though.
Alongside making the switch to Eco, I've started to play with the Eco Data tool. It's found in the infotainment system, and provides the driver with efficiency data and advice. For example, during every trip there's a nice graphic that shows your average fuel and speed information that's updated as you drive. On top of that, each journey is awarded a percentage driver score for efficency.
That's important because when you tap the on-screen 'history' button, you're given a bar chart of recent trips, with the most economical journey awarded a little trophy (pictured, above left). It essentially encouraging you to challenge yourself, and as every business person knows, creating competition is an effective way of driving improvements in efficiency.
Hopefully, the extra effort on my part, in tandem with the change to the car's Eco setting, will have the desired effect on the XF's fuel economy.
9th report - The economy's highs and lows
The official combined fuel consumption for our Jaguar XF 2.0d 163 R-sport auto8 is quoted at 68.9mpg, and over 9,500 miles so far we've averaged 47.9mpg. That works out at around 70% of the official figure - which, given granitekitchen's history with long-termers, ranks as a little disappointing so far, as I would have liked to achieve upwards of 75% of the official consumption stats.
There are several factors that could contribute to that, but running the car over the winter months doesn't seem to be one, as the second-highest individual fill figure of 52.0mpg was achieved on the most recent trip to the fuel station, while the highest (53.0mpg) was recorded following the very first top-up back in late August.
Incidentally, the second- and third-lowest individuals fuel economy figures (44.3mpg and 44.8mpg) were recorded immediately after and immediately before the two aforementioned highs. A low of 42.1mpg was reached back in towards the end of September, which coincided with at least one trip around the top of the M25 and into north London.
With that kind of inconsistency, and with the car not yet being subject to any sustained periods of prolonged motorway driving or heavy urban traffic, I'm blaming an erratic right foot.
Now, there are a variety of onboard tools accessed via the touchscreen at our disposal that will analyse driving performance, and hopefully help me to boost the XF's efficiency, and I'll be putting them to the test in the next report.
Meanwhile, feeding the overall average of 47.9mpg into the granitekitchen costs computer produces an overall cost per mile figure of 69.2p per mile. That compares with an official forecast figure of 67.3ppm.
8th report - Sound dealings
Apparently all that was needed was a three-hour software update, and I can now play CDs, flick between podcasts on my iPod, and listen to DAB - all without the system completely freezing.
I've the Beadles Land Rover service department in Sidcup, Kent, to thank for fi the issue. Not only have they given me the power of music, they were also very professional throughout my interaction with them. Firstly, in confirming beforehand that I was indeed going to turn up for my appointment, given that they weren't the nearest dealer in relation to my home address. It was then, too, that I was told they would try the software update first.
The service desk also treated me courteously at both drop-off and collection, and I was told that I should inform them immediately if any problems with the media system cropped up.
Finally, after I failed to get out of a particularly tight parking space, partly due to my ineptitude, partly due to the fear of damaging somebody else's Jaguar, I was saved by an employee who managed to successfully suppress any hint of mocking my driving skills and manoeuvre the XF out of the space, albeit after several attempts.
To cap it all off, the stereo was covered under the three-year/unlimited mileage warranty, and the car was given a wipe clean both inside and out.
Yes, a few of my settings had been disturbed when I got back to the car that I've gradually been noticing ("Are these headlights on?" "Nope - doesn't look like it." "Oh, nuts! It must have been taken off the auto setting while at the dealers"), but all in all, a very satisfying dealer experience.
In other news, if you need to top up the tyres, as I had to recently when prompted by a warning symbol in the dash (pictured, left), don't bother looking for psi figures inside the doors or the fuel cap, or any other physical place, because they're not there. No, if you want to know how inflated the tyres should be, go to the virtual instrument display, and scroll through the options until you find what you need.
7th report - Mirror signal, but don't manoeuvre
The Jaguar XF comes with blind spot monitoring, but it's the extra associated technology called Closing Vehicle Sensing that I've been most grateful for - although not when I've actually been in motion.
The technology uses radar sensors to monitor a larger area behind the vehicle, and, according to the manual, "is designed to perform best on multi-lane roads with free-flowing traffic", and I have to say, it's useful, particularly when joining motorways from the slip road.
It also, curiously, says it "is operational above 6mph in forward gear". I say "curiously" because the occasion I've been most thankful for it was when I was static.
That was when making an early-morning start for the office in the dark. I was about to get ready to reverse out of the drive when the amber symbol in the passenger side wing mirror began flashing furiously to alert me to oncoming danger - in this case the car didn't pass me, but did follow the curve of the road behind me on its way out of a cul-de-sac.
There was another occasion worth noting. Having just parked up to pick the children up from school, again the light in the passenger side wing mirror began to flash. I had stopped in a residential area by a T-junction, and the other vehicle, as far as I could tell, had just approached the junction, and actually turned to go head in the opposite direction.
Of course, having just come to a stop, the other car didn't present a danger, but had I just been about to pull out instead it's comforting to know the XF's safety systems are looking out for you and that the amber warnings are impossible to ignore.
Naturally, as the manual states "Closing Vehicle Sensing is a supplement to, not a replacement for, a safe driving style and use of the exterior and rear-view mirrors', but on more than one occasional this particular piece of technology has made me aware of other road users I might otherwise have missed relying on more old-fashioned ocular means.
6th report - Musical issues
Back in our second report we mentioned that I was having problems with the sensitivity of the XF's touchscreen (part of the optional InControl Touch Pro Pack, worth £1,745), in that it could take several attempts for it to respond to my touch when selecting, say a DAB station, while on other occasions the choice list would unintentionally scroll by.
Well, for several weeks now I've also been experiencing an issue with the music-playing functions. I first noticed it with that old-school format, a CD, which refused to play after it was a few tracks in, with the only course of action being to revert to DAB.
Then I discovered a fault using an admittedly prehistoric iPod. I could play a podcast, but after a little while the screen wouldn't let me fast-forward, skip tracks or even find other podcasts - it would just continue playing the first podcast I'd chosen before moving on to the next one. At least, as before, I could at least turn to DAB.
I've been meaning to call in at a dealer for a little while to have the problem resolved, but what finally made me take action was when on a recent M25 commute into work the DAB radio just stopped working, leaving me in silence. (Not such a bad thing in this car, as I've written before, but nonetheless, irritating.) And now this new fault has occurred more than once.
In each of the above circumstances the music system always works again after the ignition has been turned off, while for the iPod, when stuck in traffic, I've been able to take the USB connector out of the port that's located in the glove box before slotting it back in again.
I have to say that when it works, the sound system is terrific, and that I haven't noticed any problems with the satnav or any other sytems operated through the screen.
But it needs fi, so local dealer here I come.
5th report - Hardly exhausting work
Our Editor has been on holiday recently, which provided me with the perfect opportunity to get behind the wheel of our XF long-termer. Call it karma or just bad luck, but I'd only driven a couple of miles down the road when a warning light appeared. The last time a yellow warning triangle with the message 'fill diesel exhaust fluid tank' flashed up on a dashboard, I booked the car into the nearest dealer and paid them to add the necessary fluid.
But when I mentioned what I'd done in the office, I was told that topping up with diesel exhaust fluid (DEF, which is also known as AdBlue) is actually a simple task that even an impractical person such as myself can manage.
So rather than go to the expense of visiting a dealer, I decided to have a go myself with the Jaguar XF. That meant a trip to Halfords, where, not wishing to take any chances with quality, I bought the most expensive stuff I could find, which came in at £15 for four litres.
Then I read the manual, and watched the instructional video (http://goo.gl/FET3aq) mentioned in it, and discovered that the process was indeed straightforward, and that I had bought the correct specification (ISO 22241-1).
The reservoir filler cap is located to one side of the XF's boot. Simply unscrew the plastic bottle containing the DEF, attach the nozzle supplied, unscrew the filler cap in the boot, turn the bottle upside down and attach it to the filler cap. Once that's done, push down on the base of the bottle and listen to the fluid flow in. To stop for any reason, simply stop pushing the bottom of the bottle. I emptied the entire contents.
Jaguar says that the rate at which a car consumes DEF depends on how you drive, but it's roughly one litre to 1,000 miles of driving.
As hoped, the warning message disappeared. Result. However, the video says I've only topped up the reservoir and that I need to book the XF into a dealer for "full system refill". I'll leave that one for Debbie.
4th report - Comfy cruising
Wellbeing. It's a word that normally drives me into an emotional state that is precisely the opposite of its definition. That's because I believe it is new-age, meaningless, marketing waffle used by PRs in the hotel industry to describe the feelings an inanimate environment is supposed to engender in an individual, as in 'gives you a sense of.'.
It makes me think of feng shui.
And yet, when I read Jaguar's website for information on the XF's interior, and saw the word on the screen in front of me, all I could think was, 'yes - that's what I have when I'm behind the wheel'.
It's especially the case on motorways, particularly on the concrete surface sections of the western side of the M25. With other long-term test vehicles I've had (admittedly not rivals), on those stretches of that motorway the noise and vibration transmitted into the interior can be unbearable.
The Jag, however, oozes Zen-like tranquillity. The ride is rela (Jag says the "R-Sport comprises stiffer coil springs and progressive sportier dampers") and the interior, featuring "Taurus leather sports seats", comfortable. The car just never seems ruffled.
In fact, I find myself doing the unthinkable and occasionally turning off the babbling stereo just so that I can appreciate the quiet.
If this continues, the XF will be transporting me to a luxury spa retreat before long.
3rd report - An all-round view of the XF
Our XF's got more cameras than a scrum of paparazzi. There's one in the centre of the front lower grille, one in each of the exterior door mirrors, and one that allows you to see what's behind.
You can select a single view, or two views via a split screen, or due to a technological miracle, get a bird's-eye view of the whole car.
The cameras only work at very low speeds, hence I've been using them in 'surround camera system' mode to park. Why do I need this technology for such a simple task?
Allow me to explain: there's just enough room on our driveway for a guest's vehicle as well as the XF and the family car; however, when a guest is expected that means, in the case of the Jaguar, parking as far over to the left as possible so the cars' doors can all open while taking care not to hit the neighbour's low wall with the left-hand side of the nose. With other cars that would mean having to get out at least once to do a visual check.
So I've been spoilt with the bird's-eye view system. The only slight niggle is that when showing off to an eight-year old relative, he pointed out that the car on the screen was a different colour to the real thing.
Jaguar XF 2.0d 163 R-sport auto8
|P11D price £35,895
|Forecast/actual cost per mile 65.9p/67.7p
|Our average consumption 47.1mpg
|Official combined consumption 68.9mpg
2nd report - XF screen: A touch too far
I'm having a few problems using the XF's touchscreen. So far, with the audio and the satnav, I'm finding that the screen doesn't always respond to my first touch, and in some cases it won't react to my second or third efforts either.
Sometimes the button on the screen is highlighted but doesn't react; in other cases, where are there are several options, such as a list of DAB radio stations, pressing the screen with anything less that rock-steady finger results in a scrolling through of those options. It's not a constant issue, but it is a little irritating, especially when I've tried applying varying amounts of pressure to find the right level, but to no avail.
1st report - What's new pussycat?
The newest member of the granitekitchen fleet is one of our editor's favourite cars, so much so it received a rare 10/10 verdict when he drove the latest model for the first time in December last year.
Its excellent running cost figures, elegant design, impressive residual values and classy cabin are just some of the reasons we rate the XF so highly, so to say we're excited about the prospect of running one for the longer term would be a huge understatement.
Before we take our XF for a spin, though, first we must examine the paperwork and find out how this latest addition shapes up on paper.
You can pick the XF in four trims - we've chosen mid-range R-sport because it's more desirable than the entry-level Prestige car, with a more aggressive front bumper design, gloss-black exterior finishes and special 17-inch alloy wheels. It certainly makes an impression and gives the XF a striking look.
Alongside the more distinctive design touches, opting for R-s port also bags you an upgraded sportier suspension and comfy leather seats.
Under the bonnet of our new long-termer is the firm's 2.0-litre diesel, offering 163hp and 380Nm of torque. Likely to be the pick of the range for company car drivers, headline figures for this engine are very good, with a combined fuel economy of 68.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 109g/km meaning a 21% BIK tax band for the current 2016/17 year.
Mated to the engine is Jaguar's excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox, which we significantly prefer to the manual even if there is a small compromise on running costs and a band rise in BIK tax, with the manual achieving an official combined fuel economy of 70.6mpg and emitting 104g/km of CO2.
Also fitted to out latest fleet member is £5335 worth of options.
The most expensive is the InControl Touch Pro Pack at £1745, which includes an upgraded sound system - one feature we are definitely looking forward to putting through its paces over the coming months. Choosing this pack also beefs up the touchscreen to 10 inches.
The Italian Racing Red paintwork, which admittedly wasn't our first choice, is already proving to be popular around the office and costs £690.
One upgrade we would thoroughly recommend is the Cold Climate Pack for £745, which adds heating elements to the washer jets, steering wheel, windscreen, and front and rear seats - all features we will be pleased to have when the winter months approach.
The new XF stacks up well for practicality too - despite being shorter than the model it replaced, this latest-generation car offers significantly more space thanks to a 51mm extended wheelbase. The boot is also large at 540 litres, and bigger than its main rivals the BMW 5-series and Audi A6.
So there you have it, the latest member to join the granitekitchen family. Our editor certainly thinks the XF is worthy of a perfect 10 and I'm looking forward to finding out how it lives up to the hype when we get settled in for the long haul.
Jaguar XF 2.0d 163 R-sport auto8
|Our average consumption
|Model price range
|Service, maintenance and repair
|Vehicle Excise Duty
|CO2 (BIK band)
|BIK 20/40% per month
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