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Our cars update: Jaguar XF

  • We miss the winter commute
  • The XF's more homely than home
  • The interior's not perfect, though
Words ByWhat Car? Staff

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We still love the Jag's interior lighting even if the shorter evenings mean we can't see it as much

As I write, it seems that summer has arrived and I can't say I'm sorry. The only good thing about winter, as far as I'm concerned, is Christmas. The rest short days, horizontal rain, pavements strewn with sodden leaves and having to dress like Scott of the Antarctic just to go to the shops you can keep.

As an XF owner, there is one thing I miss about winter, though, and that's commuting in the dark. The XF's cabin is a wonderful place to be at any time, but it's really special when darkness falls and it's bathed in mood lighting in a shade of blue usually seen only in a Seychelles holiday ad. It's like being in a cocktail bar, especially if you have the right background music playing through the brilliant Bowers & Wilkins speakers.

When we made the XF our Car of the Year in 2008, we singled out its interior for special praise. 'Like a piece of theatre' we said of its pulsing starter button, pop-up rotary gear selector and revolving air vents. 'You'd never tire of it.'

Well, nine months on, I haven't. Normally when I get in a car, I do the seatbelt/ignition/gear selection/handbrake thing in a blur, eager to be on my way. Yet in the Jag I find myself pausing for a few seconds, just to take it all in.

I've found myself studying other cars' interiors materials, shapes, colours, illumination in even more-than-usual detail, just to see if there's anything I prefer, but by and large there isn't.

The great thing about the XF from the driver's perspective is that it combines beauty, simplicity and clarity. German and Japanese rivals look either austere or muddled in comparison.

Almost but not quite perfect
Even the XF isn't perfect, though. The rear foglight and remote boot switches are close enough together to demand special care when using them, the rear cupholders in the centre armrest aren't in keeping with the quality of the rest of the car, and the sat-nav instructions aren't duplicated in the instrument panel but this was corrected at the same time as the diesel engine was upgraded.

Still, I can use the remote plipper to open the boot, and I shouldn't need the foglights again before my year with the car is over. Now, what time does it get dark tonight? I might just go and sit in it.

What Car? says
Sometimes it feels more homely than my house.

Roger Stansfield long termer)