Tuesday 3rd April 2012

PH Blog: The curiosities of cold-start driving

Harris explores a curious trait of the latest Jaguars and wonders whether there are other cars out there with cold-running foibles

I'm spending a short time in this handsome Jaguar XF Diesel S*. Besides being, to my eyes, one of the best facelifts in living memory, it's a car that promises pretty much everything: speed, space, refinement and efficiency. I'll report back on its many skills later in the week, but for now there's something curious about it that I need to discuss.

In fact it's something particular to the three Jaguars I've run since the back-end of 2010 - they simply don't work for the first 10 minutes of every journey. By 'work', I mean the suspension feels like it has remained asleep. It must be a particular trait of Jag's adaptive damping system, because the XKR did it, as did the very wonderful XJ Supersport I used last year. This morning the XF, for about 15 miles, rode like it was on square wheels. Then suddenly, it was better. Albeit never truly supple, because this car has the full sports suspension package.

The way cars behave over those first few, stone-cold miles is always enlightening. My GT3 RS absolutely hates taking 2nd gear, the 205 XS is flat as a pancake (because you're attempting to use as little of the manual choke as possible) - then the moment it's remotely warm, bang, you have the best throttle response imaginable.

But these Jags must have something going on with their shock absorbers. It's a shame, because you rather dread those first few miles each morning.

Anyone else drive anything that suffers a similar personality disorder when cold?

*Well, not this exact car, but you get the idea...

Author: Chris Harris

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166 comments on this story

Last comment was by Swervin_Mervin
on 28th June 2012