The Brits are fond of what they call "soldiering on," a determined forward motion of stoically trudging ahead.
Our Jaguar XF has also soldiered on despite the horrors inflicted by the Bidrawn Clan. I found no less than seven assorted Happy Meal toys jammed between the soft leather of the back seats. Soccer balls, goalie nets and beach chairs jostled for position in the sizable trunk while multiple iPods filled the center storage bin. Families are tough on luxury cars. Until they devise a tile-covered cabin, most families will opt for plastic-coated minivans.
Like Batman's unshakable butler Alfred, the XF has served us well, pulling both kid duty and date-night detail. Few cars can pull that off. The XF makes it look easy, like it was bred for such stuff. It catches people off guard as you walk up to this sexy car and a bunch of rugrats and their gear pile in.
We should have photographed the Jag cruising through the Costco parking lot or in the BK drive-thru, kids batting at each other in the back seat. In truth, these pictures do not tell the XF's whole story. They were shot on a favorite road far north of our office. Here the XF performed like a champion, deftly cutting through narrow canyons while providing an unmistakable V8 grumble. Although this loop favors smaller, more nimble cars, the XF did well considering its size. The six-speed automatic transmission with Jaguar's Sequential Shift system will hold gears until your ears bleed, allowing you to squeeze the most from its 310 hp. Unlike a domestic V8, this engine likes to rev. It takes 4100 rpm to realize its 310 lb-ft of torque. Once there it feels like the power will never end. That's impressive considering the car tips the scale at two tons. Although that's a lot to haul, the Jag doesn't feel so much heavy as it does solid, sorta like the RAF Avro Vulcan bomber (look it up). There are a few things that could use a bit of tweaking, the first of which is the suspension that appears to be calibrated for maximum comfort. I would also like more feedback in the steering wheel as the XF's is somewhat light. Out of the box, these settings are probably perfect for 90 percent of XF owners. A bit of love in these areas would lend a sportier edge without mucking it up.
At first, we considered the dial-shifted transmission a novelty. It has since become second nature for gear selection, just like walking into a room and reaching for a light switch. Moreover, the dial provides more positive gear selections (no chance of slipping a shift) and features a robust membrane that makes its guts impervious to all kinds of liquids (including Starbucks kiddy coffees).
While the ambiance of the cabin is simply gorgeous, the interface between the nav/audio systems isn't among the best. It's a touchscreen arrangement that proves difficult to navigate while the car is in motion. Less than perfect roads will miss-aim your finger. This results in multiple attempts to find the right channel or direct the HVAC system. Moreover, the menus are not very user friendly, especially the scroll functions for the radio. Audi and BMW both use multi-purpose dials to great effect. Jag might want to consider the same arrangement.
If the car's audio system wasn't so brilliant, I suppose I wouldn't care about the interface. But its 440-watt, 13-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system with Dolby surround sound rocks. It's the reason I stay inside long after the engine is off.
Our Jaguar XF continues to garner more than its share of looks. Some simply want to determine what kind of car it is-an Aston Martin or Lexus IS F are the most common guesses. There's a silver XF just down the street from me. At 9:12 each morning we pass each other and wave. I don't know why. There's something special about the XF that compels such behavior.
The Jaguar XF is damn sexy and it likes kids. It's got a kind of down to earth elegance that's very seductive. It's not the Jag I remember from my younger days, but I believe that's a good thing.
Time to go. I'm late for soccer practice.
At A Glance
+ Hyper comfortable/quiet ride quality, striking looks, fabulous cabin.
-Problematic touchscreen interface, tire pressure sensors senstive to temp changes.
Total mileage: 12,300
Fuel economy: 17.4 mpg