Our cars: Jaguar XF Sportbrake - October

Article 6 of 12 See all
  • XF's chassis outshines its rivals, but the fuel economy was a constant disappointment

    XF's chassis outshines its rivals, but the fuel economy was a constant disappointment

  • Front and rear parking sensors, plus reversing camera is the best option pack on our XF Sportbrake

    Front and rear parking sensors, plus reversing camera is the best option pack on our XF Sportbrake

  • It takes a minute to kick in, but the XF's heated windscreen is a boon, clearing ice and frost quickly

    It takes a minute to kick in, but the XF's heated windscreen is a boon, clearing ice and frost quickly

  • Our XF Sportbrake is just about big enough to be a picture transporter

    Our XF Sportbrake is just about big enough to be a picture transporter

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Jaguar XF Sportbrake 2.2D Sport Sportbrake LT

Week ending 25 October
Miles this Week: 260
Mileage: 11,100

The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is upon us, and, perhaps more importantly for motorists, so is the season of darker mornings and longer nights.

This particularly matters if you happen to be driving our Sportbrake, the longer nights highlighting the poor performance of our bi-xenon headlights on dipped beam. On a recent journey back from Portsmouth on the unlit A3, I was forced to slow down to a trickle, as at times I couldn’t see which way the road in front of me went.

Oddly, the main beam output seems pretty normal, but the dipped beam performance is beginning to cause comment. Switch on and at night you can see the headlights dancing up, down and around as they settle on a pattern. Unfortunately we’ve only just begun, after a long summer, to notice that the pattern might be the wrong one. It seems these xenons are non-adjustable by the owner, so a quick trip to the dealer might be in order to have them set right.

A shame, as when they’re working properly our lights actually benefit from needing no adjustment when switching from driving on the left side of the road to the right. On top of that, the Sportbrake has the benefit of self-levelling air sprung rear suspension, which helps keep the car on an even keel, even when fully loaded. This last does wonders for many things, one of which is consistency with the headlight beam angle.

By Mark Pearson
mark.pearson@haymarket.com

Week ending October 18
Mileage 11,100
Miles this week 375

Read the full Jaguar XF Sportbrake review

Though some of our road testers have commented that the XF’s interior is beginning to show its age, I rather like it.

Admittedly the speedo and rev counter are on the small side, but they’re clear and easy to read, and their old-fashioned style suits this car. The leather seats look great and are reasonably comfortable, and adjustable electrically. The piano black and aluminium finish gives the interior an air of elegance, and, though the switchgear surrounding the steering wheel is a little fussy, the controls are all logically laid out.

As you climb in the car, the starter button pulsates. Press it and the engine starts, the rotary gear knob rises out of the centre console, and the air vents swivel open as if to say a cheery Hello. The steering wheel lowers into position in front of you.

Passengers really like it too - there’s still a sense of occasion to riding in a Jag. Certainly there’s nothing to upset them: there’s plenty of room in the front and back (with more rear headroom in the Sportbrake than the XF saloon), the ride is firm at low speeds but great higher up, the refinement’s excellent and the back seats are reasonably supportive.

I wish I could be as enthusiastic about the infotainment touch-screen, though. It’s small, fiddly and awkward to use. It’s slow too, so programming an address on the sat-nav seems to take forever. I’ve had many a fight locating a number from my phonebook, and making and finishing a phone call can be a test of patience and temper.

By Mark Pearson
Mark.Pearson@whatcar.com

Week ending October 11
Mileage 10,725
Miles this week 275

This week has found the Sportbrake in its element: long, smooth motorway cruises, followed by some fast work around the twisty lanes of rural Wiltshire.

Here its chassis excels, with its quick and responsive steering, bags of grip and delightful handling. The motorway ride is composed and comfortable, and wind and road noise low. Indeed it’s surprising how quickly one can cover ground in this car, keeping up high averages by never going particularly slowly. The splendid, sunlit and traffic-free journey down on the M3 and A303 was completed at an average speed of just below 70mph, despite the first part of the trip being on clogged-up suburban feeder routes.

The Sportbrake impressed when we arrived too. We were in deepest Wiltshire to photograph two new cars, the latest Range Rover, and an indomitable new Mercedes S-Class. Both these behemoths can deliver quite a quick turn of speed, but in the rush from photo location to photo location the Jag never lost ground, never seemed put out, was the easiest to drive and was more stable in the corners. After a day driving these other two (more expensive) cars, I was glad to step back into the Sportbrake and point it for home.

As it happened, that journey proved to be even quicker, but maybe that’s a tale for another day.

By Mark Pearson

Week ending October 4
Mileage 10,500
Miles this week 225

Read the full Jaguar XF Sportbrake review

At the end of my road is a junction on to what is, particularly in the rush hour, a busy A-road. The chances of getting out to join the traffic are few and far between and, when presented, must be grasped with both hands and a heavy-ish right foot.

With 332lb/ft of torque, the XF usually joins the main road with its rear tyres fighting for grip. There’s a little chirrup from the rear, and a slight scrabble before the electronics sort things out. That huge slug of torque is served up at a lowly 2000rpm, and the car is angled to turn left on to what is often damp Tarmac, so such behaviour is hardly surprising.

It’s not unpleasant, and in fact adds another dimension to the character of this otherwise suave Sportbrake – it’s rather like discovering Nigel Havers can rap.

Joining this road at an angle also means that, being fairly tall and having the seat set back, I have to crane my neck to see oncoming traffic from behind the driver’s thick door pillar (the B-pillar), rather than in front of it. This means I’m actually looking out of the rear side window, which is tinted. To be honest that’s not a great problem (except for my neck), although visibility to the rear of the Jag, through small blacked-out side and rear windows, isn’t that great either.

A good job, maybe, we have those parking sensors front and rear. This is, after all, a long car. It has a deep front air dam, and very handsome alloys - even after six months I still find myself parking about a foot away from any kerb.

By Mark Pearson
Mark.Pearson@whatcar.com

Our cars: Jaguar XF Sportbrake - September

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