PH Fleet: Jaguar XF Diesel S

It is hard to get any car manufacturer to accurately state the time and resources they invest on cabin design and the way we as humans interact with the increasing amounts of technology housed therein. In the future, it is a theme that might define the strength or weakness of a brand.

Big cat needs to leap a little further to keep pace
Big cat needs to leap a little further to keep pace
Viewed in these terms, Jaguar is on a rocky road just now. The XF Diesel S continues to be a fine car in many ways, but if your life with it is punctuated by spells with Audis, BMWs, Mercedes and even Volkswagens - as mine is - you quickly realise that its cabin electronics are well below par.

To make sure that it wasn't just me or a brain addled by too much German exec exposure, over the past few months I've lent the car to three people for a two-day period, and then pooled opinion from those who also run Jaguars or have spent prolonged periods of time in them. That's an important distinction- I think many people struggle to understand modern car cabins on brief acquaintance because a human being just has to give its brain enough time to at least understand the logic system behind them. Assuming that there is in fact a logic system (original 7 Series iDrive, take a bow).

Complex systems require simple controls
Complex systems require simple controls
Put it to the floor
Everyone I have spoken to agrees that the Jag cabin isn't just old, it's illogical. The former isn't a crime, but needs rectifying soon. The latter is a problem because the touch-screen solution is at the heart of the problem.

Having so many functions paves the way for the clean fascia design, but it also means that changing tune and then reducing the effects of the bum-warmers takes too much time, concentration and irritation. Why my iPhone won't play a song for more than 90 seconds when the Bluetooth connection with the car's telephone is live I will never be able to explain or rectify. It is supremely annoying.

I've touched on this before, so won't labour the point much further, but in every aspect of its electronic behavior - in each system supposed to stand out on the spec sheet or make occupants' lives a little easier - the Jag feels unfinished.

Charm and style the Jag can still do
Charm and style the Jag can still do
Shoestring budget
Supporters with inside knowledge have sent me notes saying that the company did an amazing job with the XF and this facelift version with scant resources. Be that as it may, if you spend £50K on a saloon car, you expect the iPod thingy to work and the blindspot widget not to direct you into the path of fast moving vehicles. People don't extend sympathy for R&D budgets in the final reckoning.

This is a complicated relationship though, and it's soon to draw to a close. I defend criticism of the XF the way I do barbs aimed at family members - I can be rude as hell about it, but woe betide outsiders who try the same.

I love looking at it, I love the cabin's hearth-like glow at night, adore the ample performance and most of all I like the association of it and me. Funny thing that, but it's a key tenet of any car-human relationship. There are many cars I would love to drive, but just wouldn't feel comfortable doing so. The Jag works.

Simple stuff like this should just work
Simple stuff like this should just work
A thirst for life
Fuel consumption has leveled to the 31mpg mark, which I find pretty unspectacular. A few days spent in a Panamera Diesel driven at similar speeds saw it hit 41mpg.

As for the harsh ride on start-up, I now have clearance to ask some probing questions to the people in charge at Jaguar. Knowing how little the tyres heat up after 10 minutes driving I'm pretty much convinced it's the dampers that need to rouse from slumber, but it'll be interesting to find out. It's such a shame because for me, and I'm sure many people, the first part of a morning drive is the best - with clear, interesting roads. In all cars I've become accustomed to extracting maximum fun from minimal throttle as the engine warms. In the XF you can't rev it and the suspension is closed for business.

So there is much to recommend the XF Diesel S, but the reality is quite harsh: the car is ready for replacement. It is based on the S-Type and it has done a fine job representing Jaguar in a tough sector, but for all its charm, it is now feeling dated.

2012 Jaguar XF Diesel S
Run by: Chris Harris
On fleet since: March 2012
Mileage: 14,200
List price new: £53,670 (base price £49,110 plus £1,275 for Adaptive Cruise Control with Intelligent Emergency Brake and active seat belts, £460 for Blind Spot Monitor, £240 for heated steering wheel, £700 for digital/analogue TV, £300 for DAB, £275 for heated windscreen with timer, £360 for 60/40 split/fold rear seats, £450 for JaguarVoice and £500 for front parking aid with visual indicator and reversing camera)
Last month at a glance: Niggles are getting more niggling and there's no escaping that the XF is feeling a bit left behind

Previous reports:
Harris is charmed by a diesel Jag
Why don't the dampers like the cold?





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Comments (88) Join the discussion on the forum

  • paranoid airbag 18 Sep 2012

    ArosaMike said:
    You'll probably find the main reason for manufacturers installing electronic handbrakes is more to do with interior design than any kind of driver aid. Try and find a space for one in a new 7 series or any other premium car!

    As for the rest....on the whole, I'd agree. I wouldn't say any one system from any one manufacturer is better or worse though. They're all nightmareishly complicated...especially the ones with these ludicrous control wheels or trackpads. There are some things I agree with though.

    1) Bluetooth music and phone. Possibly the best invention ever precisely because it REDUCES the amount of faf. Once set up, you get in, it starts playing your music and you can make and recieve calls without having to faff.

    2) Some kind of winter mode - With all the 'dynamic' throttle pedals these days (read: throttle pedals which fully open the throttle in the first 3mm of pedal travel), something to slow this down a bit in your RWD saloon at least means you stand perhaps a 10% change of making it off the drive in snow as opposed to a 0% chance.

    Everything else can go thanks. I don't want to have to configure 'M' mode on a BMW to choose a suspension setting that doesn't make my teeth fall out.
    My supermini has room for a normal handbrake - what the hell is so important in a premium car that they're compromising its core function as a car in order to fit it? The touchscreen fetish struck me more as form over function - copying iPod aesthetics, which work well in an iPod where YOU DON'T NEED TO BE WATCHING SOMETHING ELSE AT THE TIME.

    Agree with bluetooth, and winter mode IN POWERFUL CARS - in just about any normal-ish car a simple linear throttle is the best solution. But then Mr & Mrs Jones with their new Golf GTD can't tell their neighbours they've got 'one of them fast cars that need different throttle settings' - at least one of which is just, as you say, cramming 90% of the output into 10% of the travel.

    Max Torque is right about the auto lights/wipers bks as well. Really wouldn't mind seeing them banned outright on grounds of only unfit drivers could possibly benefit. If you can't or won't flick a switch in response to rain, what are the odds of you changing the rest of your driving to suit?

  • cslwannabe 14 Aug 2012

    Our October 2009 car was virtually fault free for first 20k miles (apart from the known window issue) but thereafter parking brake faults, glovebox refusing to close, unable to lock car, battery flattening itself in 24hrs, battery control module fault, unable to open one of the doors, headlight bulbs 'blowing' every 3 months (replaced about 14 to date), speakers stopped working, satnav options 'greyed' out rendering it unusable, 2nd set of rear brake pads lasted 6 months yet apparently this had nothing to do with parking brake fault light forever coming on (despite the fact the first set of rear pads lasted 22k miles and the parking brake fault light had never occurred up until this point) plus a few others I've doubtless missed.

    I notice the Which? data on brand new XFs is pretty good but for older examples they were miles behind everything else in that segment for reliability, which is pretty much our experience. Back to BMW for us (number 3) and I will never own another Jaguar product...

  • Stedman 14 Aug 2012

    Elroy Blue said:
    We won't be replacing our fleet of cars. They have (sadly) proved to be too unreliable. The BMWs and Audis seem to take the 24/7 use much better

  • Perik Omo 14 Aug 2012

    My 3.0S is over two years old (April 2010) and has done 35k with no problems apart from a leaking TPMS valve on the winter wheels (replaced FOC by Sturgess in Leicester) which were bought second hand. Has been utterly reliable so far and spends it's life shuttling to and from SW France.

  • Elroy Blue 14 Aug 2012

    We won't be replacing our fleet of cars. They have (sadly) proved to be too unreliable. The BMWs and Audis seem to take the 24/7 use much better

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