Our cars: Hello to Jaguar XF
* Car of the Year winner tested * First instalment with new car * Test for a year...
Car tested: Jaguar XF 2.7D V6 Luxury
List Price: 33,900
Target Price: 32,891
Run By: Roger Stansfield
Tested For: Four days/500 miles
There's nothing quite like picking up a new car, especially a bespoke one you've had to wait for.
There's an emotional element that's missing when you buy anything else. Well, there is for me.
Even moving house isn't the same: at least you know a car will be furnished and decorated just how you want it, whereas a new home is usually the start of months of tedium with brushes and paint.
With a car, deciding which make and model you want is just the beginning.
Playing around with colour and trim choices on the manufacturer's website and juggling the desirability and cost of options is all part of the experience, something to be savoured, as is the wait once you've clicked the order button.
Then comes the call from the dealer to say it's ready, and you get to see all those boxes you ticked made into something more than a figment of your imagination.
There's the smell, too: every make of car has a unique aroma which hits you when you open the door for the first time.
I knew I wanted an XF as soon as I clapped eyes on one last summer, and that it had to be the 2.7-litre V6 diesel to keep the accountants happy.
Luxury spec seemed the obvious choice considering it's the one we made Car of the Year back in January.
I chose botanical green metallic paint (600) because it's dark enough to show off the car's jewellery and it looks modern, but it's also a link to Jaguar's heritage.
Inside, I went for duo-tone champagne and truffle leather, with satin American walnut: it just looks more up-to-date than the glossy stuff.
Our options include the advisable (carpet mats and all-round parking sensors with a rear camera), the desirable (a Bowers & Wilkins hi-fi and 19-inch Carelia wheels in place of the weedy 17-inch rims that are standard) and the flippant (on-board TV).
A digital radio and space-saver spare alloy wheel are compulsory when you upgrade to the B & W stereo and Carelia wheels: grand total 39,530 for a car that started at 33,900.
I collected the car from Stratstone Jaguar at Burnham, Berkshire (01628 668361) where dealer principal James Roberts gave me the red-carpet treatment and made sure I was au fait with all the car's workings before sending me on my way.
If you see someone in a green XF inadvertently impersonating a Cheshire cat, it'll be me.