Our cars: Jaguar XF stereo reviewed

* XF is music to our ears * DAB tested too * Even TV has been through its paces...

Our cars: Jaguar XF stereo reviewed

We're running our overall Car of the Year winner, the Jaguar XF, for a year to find out exactly what the car is like to live with.

There's not much I dislike about this job, but having to use Stansted Airport on a fairly frequent basis comes high up the list.

Why anybody would voluntarily go to a field in Essex to catch a plane is beyond me. Unfortunately, it's something I can't avoid.

Often I end up landing back there in the late afternoon, knowing I'm going to face an 80-mile slog around the M25 to get home.

A journey that can be dispatched in 75 minutes at quiet periods can easily take twice that. Once it took me four-and-a-half hours.

With all this in mind, our decision to spend 1290 on the Bowers & Wilkins stereo option for the XF is looking less and less of an extravagance. I love having music in the car, anyway, but especially when I'm sitting in a four-lane queue of traffic getting nowhere fast. Keeps me calm...

What the experts say
The head unit in the XF comes from Melco. B & W provides only the speakers but, then, there are 13 of them plus a sub-woofer, and boy, do they sound fantastic.

Don't take my word for it, though: here's what an expert has to say.

Andy Kerr is not only the editor of What Hi-fi Sound and Vision User Guides, but also our tame car stereo expert, and he raves about the system in the XF. 'You absolutely must make sure you get your XF with these speakers fitted,' he concluded in a review for whatcar.com.

When you opt for it you get a six-disc in-dash CD changer and a socket that allows you to play an iPod through the system. You're also compelled to spend another 250 on a DAB radio and to have a space-saver spare wheel because the well in the boot contains the sub-woofer, which Kerr describes as 'the size of a small fuel tank'.

The BBC has blown a mint on broadcasting DAB radio and it may yet go the way of eight-track cartridges and Betamax videos, according to some reports.

Reception is patchy and many of the available stations aren't worth bothering with, but when it's working well the sound quality is sensational. Try listening to a football commentary on 5Live and you'll see what I mean.

We also added the 700 digital/analogue TV option. 'Bet you never use it,' said What Car? group editor Steve Fowler when I told him.

Wrong, Steve. The other Sunday morning, sat at Dover docks waiting to board a P & O ferry, I watched the re-run of Match of the Day I'd missed the night before.