After two weeks with Jaguar's XF V8, I've learned there's more to this car than its party tricks
I barely notice the fact the gear dial rises to my palm as the engine fires, or the air vents swivel out of the dash. That still impresses the heck out of new passengers, but I'm immune.
However its livability grew on me, as did its looks. It's both modern and indubitably a Jaguar, inside and out, with the clean lines and modern-day flourishes cut by classic materials. It's comfy too, everything's within reach and there are plentiful storage spaces for all the bits and bobs that accrue during daily life.
Regularly carrying passengers meant confirming that though rear legroom doesn't looks as generous as expected, only the tallest passengers will complain. We discovered just one accommodation shortcoming. The boot space is generous enough at 500 litres, and it's deep. You virtually need a boat hook to reclaim belongings that slide to the back. But the opening is smaller than expected and some items which should fit, won't slot in. If you regularly carry something awkward - a fact of life if you have small children - check it'll fit before buying the XF.
Other features appreciated everyday included the efficient park control, the rear reversing camera, and the integrated satnav (a touch-screen operation like the climate control and sound system).
It's odd to talk practicalities before performance and dynamics, but after a week or two it's easy to forget the initial thrill in the minutae of day-to-day life. And it's living with a car that introduces the subtleties.
I initially thought this XF's 4.2-litre V8 a little over-muffled, even at start-up. But after a fortnight I had to admit, its tuning probably suits most buyers. A muted growl is pleasant; a full-chested roar could get wearing. This cat sounds keen enough on full acceleration without getting feral.
That could describe the whole drive experience. The suspension is plush, but like all Jags I've driven recently, she firms up and reacts predictably to provocation, with just a hint of oversteer near the limit that's rarely wayward enough to bring the electronic nannies into play.
If the ZF transmission filched from the XKR isn't reacting fast enough for you - or changing from drive to sport via a rotary dial still feels too weird - steering wheel-mounted gear change paddles do the job at a rate that again suits the car's persona. Young(ish), but not wet behind the ears; powerful, but not out-of-control; easy to live with, but not so laid back it's boring.
Even the fuel bill wasn't as bad as expected. I didn't see Jaguar's 11.1l/100km claim, but after two weeks of varied city, hilly rural and highway driving she averaged 12.4l/100km - not as bad as I'd feared.
The only glitch for the duration was a warning light advising I check the pedestrian impact system - which instantly recognizes you've hit a pedestrian, not a fence, triggering an airbag that flips the bonnet forward to cushion body from engine, part of an impressive active and passive safety armoury.