Nice Kitty? Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury

You only get one chance to make a first impression, so how does ‘our’ XF fare?

All images: Driven to Write

Among the tenets of luxury car motoring is the notion that everything you touch and feel should feel expensive and well engineered; that the manufacturer has gone that extra bit further to make you feel more deserving, more special. Approaching the XF for the first time however, the first thing you grasp is the door handle, only to be greeted by a flimsy-feeling plastic arm that wouldn’t be out of place on a car many times cheaper. As first impressions go, it sets a very disappointing one. Frankly, my 19-year Saab’s similarly configured door handles feel immeasurably more solidly engineered and durable. In fact, they’ll probably outlive the car. So much for progress.

Having gotten over this initial setback, you take your seat. It’s worth pointing out that our XF was specified with black leather and the living horror of privacy glass, so it’s decidedly gloomy in there. In fact, were it not for the aluminium highlights and light stained wood trim, it would be a fairly unremitting place to spend time. In mitigation, the car’s owner was advised to opt for this interior specification. A Jag with a coal-hole black cabin? Misses the point entirely.

IMG_2317Nevertheless, the leather is soft, even if I don’t particularly care for the grain or the pleating. The wood trim is nicely integrated and has a pleasing satin finish – I’ve developed a bit of an allergy to shiny woodwork. I also really like the alloy faced dash. It’s quite redolent of the Series 1 E-Type and feels lovely against the fingertips. All of the switchgear feels nicely damped and operates as expected, although I’ll admit to still being a little befuddled by the automatic wipers, technophobe that I am. I really must dig out the manual. Minor switchgear is rubberised and has nicely judged push-feel, as Toyota engineers might have put it.

Once inside, the starter button pulses expectantly, which creates a little frisson of anticipation. Pressing it prompts a piece of theatre you think you’ll tire of, but never quite do. The synchronised swivelling of air vents, rising gear selector and memory-set steering wheel serve no useful purpose, but I applaud Jaguar for it – after all they didn’t really have to bother.

Which makes the following something I say with something of a heavy heart. The rising rotary gear selector, clearly designed to look like a solid billet of metal feels more like plastic. Worse still, there is just a smidgeon of unnecessary free play as you apply it. For this feature to work as designed, it needs to operate with a feeling of heft, of solidity, but instead it just feels cheap. On balance I think I’d prefer a normal quadrant selector.

IMG_2318The quality of the interior plastics is generally fine, apart from the lower door cards at door-bin level, which is the only really cheap looking and feeling trim on show. The carpet too is a little below expectations. A pity, because again it’s difficult to escape the feeling of pennies being pinched. The headlining is lovely though.

A combination of shallow glazing, black interior trim and rear privacy glass, combined with the XF’s low roofline, seating position and steeply raked rear screen add up to somewhat compromised outward visibility, particularly rearward. But to be fair, this is part of a long Jaguar tradition, I recall an early XJ being poor in this regard; you simply had to guess the extremities. Ditto the XF. Forward, your view is dominated by the prominent bonnet bulge (very Series 1 XJ again) but where the nose ends is anyone’s guess. The standard-fit (and hilariously over-dramatic) JLR-generic parking sensors are a godsend.

IMG_2319Nice touches abound. The leather covered steering wheel rim feels lovely in the hands. The wheel mounted audio and cruise control buttons are usefully placed. There’s a thoughtfully positioned double interior light above the rear compartment where they could probably have got away with just one. There are no ashtrays, but several sizeable cubbyholes on the centre console which could double as ash receptacles should one find oneself caught short. The large central cubby lid however, isn’t damped as you’d expect, slamming with a startling bang. More cost-cutting. Ditto the gearshift paddles, which are cheap pieces of moulded plastic.

The boot is deep, although the aperture is quite shallow. The rear seats do not fold, nor is there as much as a ski hatch, making those trips to IKEA an exercise in futility. Maybe Jaguar assumes its owners don’t buy flat-pack. I have news – they do. The boot carpet traps dirt and detritus, making it an absolute pig to clean. This particular XF doesn’t have a spare wheel either, just a compressor and a container of tyre foam. Yet, the space isn’t given over to additional luggage capacity, which somewhat negates the point if you ask me. Maybe Jag owners find levers and jacks somewhat beneath them. Can’t say I disagree.

IMG_2325Despite these quibbles, the XF is a very pleasant place to spend time. It conveys a sense of occasion every time you climb aboard – immeasurably more so than its BMW 5-series predecessor. None of the above issues actually gets in the way of enjoying the car. I just wish Jaguar had spent a little more money in a few key areas. The forthcoming model needs to be better. To anyone considering an XF, my advice would be to go for a more cheerfully hued interior. Screw the resale, you’ll enjoy it more and will also mitigate the slightly snug interior ambience.

But whatever you do, go easy on those door handles…

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

13 thoughts on “Nice Kitty? Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury”

  1. That wooden panel on the rear passenger door seems very out of place. Isn´t a small boot very much a Jaguar tradition? Rear mounted ashtray as Vicar called them?

    1. To be honest, these photos don’t really do the interior justice. (Personally, I blame the photographer). The wood trim looks really nice when you’re sitting in the car. Unfortunately all that black trim deadens the effect. I can see why you’d suggest Jaguar has a tradition of shallow boots. But if you think about it, this really only relates to the XJ series. Earlier saloons were quite generous in that department. The XJ-S had a decent boot as well, now that I think of it.

      I remember an XJ-owing neighbour packing for a family holiday. That was an art, I can tell you. But then, you don’t buy a Jaguar for practicality. Or at least, you didn’t back then. People are less tolerant of such things now, which goes some way to explaining Jaguar’s somewhat tentitive styling evolution of late perhaps?

    2. I was wondering about the wood too. In the photos, the light, warm timber does look out of place with the dark trim. I share your disinclination towards highly lacquered stuff but, in this case, I feel a shiny dark timber would look better. But I’m just talking from photos and accept that the contrast/colour balance might be misleading. I remember the Mk10 boot as huge – but I was smaller then.

  2. I think the satin finish wood trim goes nicely with the aluminium but agree that it doesn’t work well with the black leather. Interestingly the current UK market XF Luxury (I guess it’s on run-out prior to the new one arriving?) cannot be configured with light wood trim – only glossy ‘rich oak’ or ‘dark oak’, and either black or beige upholstery.
    Eóin, how are you finding the eight-speed automatic? Do you bother using the cheap plastic click-paddles to run up and down the gears or just leave it in D?

    1. I’ve tried both, Mark, but most of my driving has been in suburban conditions which isn’t terribly conducive to playing tunes with the ratios. I will elaborate more when I report on the driving experience.

      It’s a real pity the interior was specified in black. I’ve always associated Jaguars with warm coloured interiors. Black just seems wrong. But from what I’ve seen, the latest models appear even worse in this regard.

  3. Is this car really officially called “Premium Luxury”? Normally, if someone has to use no less than two very similar adjectives to market a thing, chances are it’s neither of both…

    I imagine that I’d quite like this type of wood, as most I’ve seen is too glossy for my taste (my own car included). But it would have to go with a lighter interior colour, that’s for sure.

    1. I’m sorry to say that it is, Simon. And yes, I’d have to agree. Mercifully they don’t badge it as such. But this is the same company that considers F-Pace an appropriate model name. You do have to wonder…

    2. I assume the joke has been made before, but I didn’t get to where I am today (sitting at a cramped, stuffy desk, typing with one finger) by being afraid to be seen as crass and obvious. So, as I was saying, are Jaguar considering a really heavy duty, all-terrain version of the F-Pace called the F-Off?

  4. I’m a bit late to this party – been busy at work. And you know who is slave-driving me to do so Eoin. 🙂

    Anyway you recommend a lighter interior? Hmmm. One thing I hate about lighter interiors is that shadows are in fact dark. Seems silly to say but every panel gap between every light coloured trim panel shows as a dark, near black LINE! Urgh. Whereas on a black on black dash these lines disappear and the true unified shape of the dash is much more pronounced.

    Light coloured seats? Forget about ever wearing jeans again as they stain these blue. Been to a motor show? Seen how blue the light coloured driver’s seats are after just a few days at a motor show? Imagine living with these for a few years.

    No thanks.

    In my book a coal bunker black on black on black interior (in Audi speak that is black top of dash, black lower dash and black seats) is the best. It looks like one big lovely black unified “thing”. Not different bits of light coloured elements with bits of blue dye on them to boot. 🙂 My Yeti has a Black-Black-Black interior but I have the panoramic sunroof which is a must with that colour choice. So it never really feels like coal bunker.

    1. Surely a grown-up man like you shouldn’t be afraid of shadoiws?

    2. Your comment raises a point about how to view the elements of a design object. One way is to view joint lines as intrinsic to the object. They are an unavoidable part of the means of production and the function (loosely meant) of the object. If a dashboard, for example doesn’t succeed in all colours offered it must be judged a failure. I quite like the 3D graphic elements that are the joint lines and often they form a satisfying part of the design in themselves. Only bad management or handling of these should require dark materials to hide them. The same goes for architecture. A single monolithic building would be quite oppressive and lack visual interest. Didn’t the Bauhaus like to talk up honesty and truth to materials (too much, I feel)?

    3. Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with Johann’s view on colour, Jaguars used to be known for their warm interior ambience. It was an intrinsic part of the experience – or was until the 1990’s when it all got a bit mid-Atlantic – which in turn probably led to Callum’s apparent horror of traditional treatments for Jaguar interiors today.

      My initial point stands. I hate to sound like one of those marque-specific zealots pontificating about what is or isn’t ‘correct’ but whether you like the visual consistency of an all-black interior or not, it is – (in my opinion) – simply out of place in a Jaguar.

    4. How about my relativist view that the option should exist for the three main preferences: classical, rational and unorthodox? I’d choose wood and leather in clubby colours or maybe something more “zany” and Johann can have his coal hole. Guess what colour my car’s interior is? It’s utterly black! But it’s second hand. I might not like it but Johann’s preference is supported by a lot of people and a manufacturer would be nuts to ignore that fact.

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