Our cars: Jaguar XF Sportbrake - June
Week ending June 21
Driven this week 275
Read the full Jaguar XF Sportbrake review
A delicate job for the big cat this week: ferrying two small kittens to their new home.
In theory the XF's ideal for the job. The kittens were in Kent, and our home in Surrey, with the M25 separating the two. The Jag is good on motorways, and the roomy interior is more than big enough for four persons and a travel basket.
Added to that, the Jag's primary safety is first class: the roadholding, handling and braking of this car are the cat's whiskers. With it we should be able to avoid all dynamic catastrophes.
And so it proved. The 2.2-litre four-pot diesel purred down the motorway, and so good is the body control and ride (yes, particularly over cat's-eyes) one can press on without incurring a flea in the ear from disturbed passengers.
True, that paws in the eight-speed transmission does rather let the driving experience down, but the kittens didn't comment on it, so it must be only the driver who finds it cataclysmically annoying. Alas the fiddly sat-nav is equally annoying in use, though at least it does without a mouse, unlike the system in a Lexus.
So, mews on this. For this journey the Jag was pretty nearly purrfect. The catalogue of admirable features in the XF Sportbrake makes it one of the best of the executive estates; on this evidence I hope it claws back as many sales as it can from its rivals at Mercedes and BMW.
By Mark Pearson
Week ending June 14
Driven this week 195 miles
Another weekend, another request from me to borrow the Jag. So far the Sportbrake's boot has done a magnificent job of swallowing my family's luggage for a long weekend away in Devon, and this week it accommodated a pair of large trellis.
All of this load-lugging got me thinking about what the average Sportbrake owner carries in their boot. A pair of golden retrievers would seem the obvious choice, but all that hair would soon sully the dark grey carpet of our car – and imagine how stinky things would get after a few walks in the country and swims in the river (the dogs, not me).
Is this the sort of thing a company car driver would choose? With CO2 emissions of just 135g/km, the financial case looks very strong, but its boot lags way behind rivals such as the Audi A6 Avant and BMW 5 Series. So I can't imagine the Sportbrake being at the top of many user-choosers' shortlists.
There is one market I think the Jag would be perfect for: antiques dealers. The powered bootlid can be opened remotely, rear seats fold flat at the tug of a lever, moderately sized pieces of Chippendale can be slid in with ease and the tinted rear windows make sure everything remains hidden from view. Best of all, the Jag has the right sort of ambience for antiques, don't you think?
What do you carry in the back your Sportbrake? Email us below.
Week ending June 7
Driven this week 345 miles
Last week's trip to Cornwall showed our Jag in its best light, cruising with ease and handling the different roads with great panache. It was, on the way there at least, a relatively high-speed affair too.
Before going, I'd checked and reset the Sportbrake's tyre pressures. A couple of weeks before the Cornwall trip, I'd headed down to a car launch in Hampshire, and on the way there discovered that at high speed, down dip and over crest, the car felt a little imprecise. This was surprising, because the XF is normally impressively stable, the chassis always composed and the steering well weighted.
Checking the pressures I found them set at 33psi all round, which is the figure recommended for town use. Now manufacturer's recommended pressures are often on the cautious side, the better to aid fuel economy and tyre wear, but for high speed and heavy load use 40psi can be used. I settled on 36psi all round, and was rewarded with slightly better steering responses, and, on this journey at least, no high-speed wander.
It'd be interesting to try them at 40psi too. However, there being no noticeable increase in road noise or fuel consumption at 36psi, and no degradation in the Jag's well-judged ride quality, for the moment I'm quite happy to keep them at this level.