With a week in Devon with my parents ahead of me with the wife and kids in tow and some hot weather forecast, it’s not really surprising that what should have been a two-and-a-half hour journey down the M5 in the sunshine turned into a 6+ hour slog that saw us leave the motorway just south of Bristol and take to the A roads.
But if you’re going to have a nightmare journey, I can think of few more pleasant settings than behind the wheel of a Jag XF.
I didn’t expect the level of comfort and refined ride from a rear wheel drive sports saloon with firm suspension and relatively low profile tyres, but in actual fact we all climbed out of the car after the ordeal and swiftly realised that the stiff joints and aching backs that were to be expected, didn’t in fact transpire. So it’s comfortable, which is good.
It’s also incredibly practical. With a two-year old, the accoutrements of a week away are inversely proportional to the size of said child. Buggy: tick. Travel cot: tick. Enough clothes to start a mid-sized chain of shops and enough snacks to supply a mini-bus of half-starved kids: tick. The XF’s boot just swallowed the lot and slowly closed itself at the press of a button. (If you own a Jag, you don’t have to do anything so mundane as pulling the boot-lid down – electronic motors can do that for you!)
So it’s comfortable, practical, and it looks amazing. I was once again finding excuses to drive this whenever I can – much like the Mini Clubman i tested last year – which I take as a very positive sign of a car’s worth.
The gadgetry helping the driver out was also impressive – all the expected add-ons and electrics, but the car also shared some technology I last enjoyed in the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Volvo XC90 – road sign recognition. But the Jag system goes one step further… it’s linked to the speed limiter, so when you select ‘intelligent’ mode for the limiter, instead of setting the speed yourself, the car will monitor road signs and automatically adjust the limit accordingly and play an audible warning until your speed drops below the limit. Granted the Jeep was slightly better with it’s adaptive cruise control as it would actually apply the brakes for you, but I still found this an incredibly useful tool.
This car really did end up getting a thorough test – motorway cruising speeds, motorway crawling speeds, A roads, B roads, grass car-parks, unmarked country roads in Devon and a trip to my god-mother’s farm up an surfaced, pothole-riven track. The Jag took every surface in its stride without hesitation and considering the low-profile tyres and low-slung body, that’s quite an achievement. In all honesty, it coped better than any other car I’ve taken up there including some four wheel drive vehicles.
So a car that is at home pretty much anywhere and can handle pretty much anything while transporting you along in comfort, with a decent engine, workable automatic gearbox and brilliant sound system… what more could you want?
Personally, I’d opt for the 3.0 V6 diesel. The car I tested was perfect for what I used it for, but for those occasions when I was on my own, I’d have liked a little more power under my right foot, and at an extra £5k to go to the V6 I think it’d be worth it as it still does very well on fuel but with a bit more of a roar than a purr.