PH Blog: The curiosities of cold-start driving

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...

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  • appletonn 02 Apr 2012

    Cold tyres with stiff sidewalls that take a few miles to warm up and relax a little?

  • mmm-five 02 Apr 2012

    Wonder if it's something as simple as the choice of oil in the dampers (assuming they're not gas-filled), i.e. not flowing freely enough at cooler temps?

    I know my Z4MC is choppier for the first 10 miles or so and the engine/gearbox are not as smooth initially.

  • danielj58 02 Apr 2012

    I've known a few HGVs break various suspension components on the way out of the yard on (admittedly very) cold mornings, but I can't say I've ever had a car ride uncomfortably when cold. With that being said though, I tend to be very forgiving to my cars until they hit 12 o'clock.

    Are Jag not one of these companies that go testing in the arctic circle though? Seems odd that they'd do that and it not be picked up on...

  • goron59 02 Apr 2012

    My B7 RS4 used to be particularly unhappy when cold... it either wanted to be coaxed gently or utterly spanked, until it warmed up then was mostly OK. I generally ignored 1st gear for the first 10 - 15 mins or so.

    With my R8, it's the tyres that feel the need for warmth initially, and the manual 'box is a bit clunky until properly warmed up.

    All adds character, IMO.

  • Ozzie Osmond 02 Apr 2012

    IMO it's a specification of sports suspension and skinny tyres which deliver a consistently lousy ride quality. It's just you get used to it after a few miles.....

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