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Long-term tests

Jaguar XF: First report

After an epic US road trip, our new Jaguar XF is proving its worth on British roads, too

Jaguar's a marque with a fair history behind it and our new XF diesel has quite a story to tell, too. While I’ve racked up the best part of 1,000 miles in a couple of weeks, that pales into insignificance compared to OE11 UCR’s first 3,000 miles.

Our car was shipped out to the US last November where it travelled from New York to Los Angeles in just eight days, averaging 62.9mpg. That beats the claimed average figure for the new 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel of 52.3mpg, although the XF completed its US trip at a gentle average speed of 53mph. 

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The XF’s arrival in California coincided with the LA Motor Show, where I first met our car – it turned up outside my Hollywood hotel at the end of its mammoth journey, a UK-plated, right-hand-drive model looking a little odd on Sunset Boulevard.

Otherwise, the XF was at home on LA’s streets – last year’s facelift gave it a sleeker look with a sharper front end and some of the sexiest LED front and rear lights you’ll encounter on any car. In its Polaris White paintwork, it’s a real head turner.

Since I took hold of the keys back in the UK, our car’s life has been somewhat more mundane. Its work has consisted of a regular 22-mile commute from my home in South Bucks into central London, and a couple of 400-mile round trips to Merseyside where I’m a regular at Anfield to watch Liverpool play.

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The average mpg is more mundane, too – it’s currently around the 40mpg mark. That’s disappointing given the stop-start seems to be working overtime during my commute – and I rarely get the opportunity to test Jag’s claimed 0-60mph time of eight seconds.

When I do get out of the jams and on to the open road, the 2.2 diesel feels a little sluggish, although the eight-speed auto box does its best to use the muscular 450Nm torque peak for the best response. Once you’re up to speed, though, the XF is a refined cruiser – the cabin’s quiet and the ride generally comfortable.

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The steering provides a decent balance between relaxation and control, too. On twistier roads, the handling comes into its own – body control is superb, the steering responds sharply and there’s plenty of grip. A little more power would be welcome, though.

Niggles? Well, although the ride is generally comfy, it can be a little firm around town. It hasn’t put me off, though. What is more difficult to live with is the rear space – it’s not exactly generous.

As I tend to have my seat right back, there’s not much room to move behind me – even for my kids. And with three of them in the back, one gets the short straw, squashing their feet under the front seats either side of the transmission tunnel.

The boot is okay, though – we got a decent- sized sledge in it recently, but how it will cope when we try to get five people and four suitcases on board for a holiday run to the airport next week remains to be seen.

In a class that also includes the brilliant new BMW 5 Series and award-winning Audi A6, the Jaguar has its work cut out to compete. When it comes to the numbers, the Germans have it licked – it emits much more CO2 than its direct rivals, which makes it less attractive as a company buy.

But if your car-buying decisions are based on more than just the numbers, the Jag makes a sound case for itself: it’s a great-looking car with a stunning interior that’s packed with kit, and it’s superb to drive. It’s not perfect, but it has a unique charm that, so far, I’m really falling for.

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