Big Cat Hunting (Part 2)

Chris Ward continues his report on life with a 2009 Jaguar XF-S, experiencing a few bumps in the road.

All images – (c) the author

Two months in and the Jaguar XF-S has settled into the daily grind. As cruel as it may be to hobble a continent crushing beast with stop-start traffic, the Jag proves adept at leaping over life’s bumps and ruts.

Upon those rare occasions when the traffic thins and the roads open out, the big cat is happy to stretch its legs and bare its claws. Suspension float over undulating roads is well contained and the nicely weighted steering, hydraulic in operation, gives confidence through the corners. You are always aware of what the tyres are doing, even if the word on the street is reported in The Telegraph rather than heard first hand. Thankfully this fleet-footedness does not come at the expense of a flinty ride or NVH; indeed, for the most part the XF is cushy and bank vault quiet.

Being an early model, this particular XF-S has six rather than eight speeds, but the automatic shifts smoothly with very little of the hunting or lurch that can effect autos with a greater number of tightly stacked ratios. The 3.0 TDV6 serves up big dollops of torque from low down in the rev range, making fast travel a fleetingly trivial affair; indeed, an increase in wind noise is often the only clue you’re bordering Warp Speed. Unsurprisingly, as with every car I have ever owned, fuel consumption disappoints, averaging 28.5 mpg. Your results may vary, of course, and with a tickle rather than a slap, 55 mpg on the motorway is eminently possible.

Much ink has been expended since the time of launch about the XF’s styling. For me the pre-facelift pop-eyed headlights have dated badly; otherwise the exterior remains handsome, with well-resolved surfacing and neat chromework. It helps that my car sports one of the more suitable colours and with bigger alloys to give the car a planted stance. Paint quality is okay, but deeper lacquer would be welcome.

The X250’s standout feature is its interior. Much has been made of the HVAC vents and podium-like gear selector that roll open and rise to greet the driver, a great piece of theatre. Space is generous, the car’s width allowing for a deep console between the front seats, the broad sweep of wood segmented into a frankly ludicrous number of hidden cubbies.

While the faux mahogany finish of my car has struck some as being a bit old man (blatant ageism if you ask me), the material serves to add richness and warmth against the broad swathe of aluminium across the dashboard. The column stalks feature rotating metal controls that feel both cold and heavy to the touch. Soft and supportive seats are electrically adjustable every which way, while discrete puddle lighting completes the classy ambiance. Until the recent Mercedes E-Class came along, you simply could not buy a better interior for the money.

Only the silver plastic HVAC and centre screen controls jar, which brings us to the chief downside of running an older vehicle: in-car technology. While the XF has a Bluetooth phone preparation, the wireless connection cannot stream music, necessitating the use of an aux cable like a bloody Neanderthal. With a dashboard mounted subwoofer the audio system has oomph, but no amount of adjustment can cure the disappointingly flat sound blighting Ken Bruce’s Popmaster. And of course, being a 2009 car, the sat-nav is hopelessly out of date. These things aside, the touchscreen interface is surprisingly good for a car this age.

As for reliability, I sorry to report the XF-S has already blotted its copybook, and twice over at that. A week into ownership the words WINDSCREEN WASH EMPTY flashed up in orange on the dashboard, a warning no amount of WKD Blue would extinguish. A trip back to the dealer in Burton for a new fluid bottle and sensor necessitated a two day sentence in a Fiat 500, a swap I would not care to make permanent.

More recently the button on the electrically operated glovebox failed, prompting another trip to Burton for a new glovebox assembly (apparently Jaguar do not stock just the button) and, yes, another week in the same Fiat 500. Honestly Jaguar, would a mechanical latch not suffice?

Although annoying, the reassurance of such backup is, of course, why I paid top dollar at a big dealer offering a six month warranty. Thus the only cost to me for both fixes has been diesel for two 66 mile round trips, plus no little inconvenience.

So here we are: two months, done. Although not flawless, the XF continues to charm with its space, pace and feline grace. And not just me either: where usually they seek to avoid me like the plague, neighbours and even passing strangers regularly stop to talk about the car. Clearly the Jaguar brand continues to inspire goodwill, if not outright sales.

Even my seven year old son is delighted by the XF, asking to deploy the rolling vents with a frequency sufficient for me to speculate whether they (or perhaps even I) will be the next thing to break. Clearly my boy’s indoctrination into the Cult of Jaguar has already started. Start ‘em young, that’s what I say. And I should know.

2009 Jaguar XF-S 3.0 TDV6 Premium Luxury
Months owned: 2
Miles: 1500
MPG: 28.5
Costs: £0 (apart from a lot of premium diesel)

Author: chrisward1978

Professional pixel pugilist and word wrangler. Unprofessional pub snug raconteur.

12 thoughts on “Big Cat Hunting (Part 2)”

  1. Good morning Chris and thanks for the update on your XF. The two electrical issues are trivial but annoying, but it’s good that they’ve been sorted out under warranty. I bet the parts weren’t cheap either. At least six months gives you a good opportunity for a proper ‘shakedown’ test of the car.

    Regarding the mahogany, surely it’s not ‘faux’ but real wood? I like mahogany in a Jaguar, where it looks authentic and appropriate. No German premium car can achieve that ambience.

    I think that the theatre of the start-up procedure is great fun and I’m afraid I be just like your boy in wanting to see it repeatedly. If I recall correctly, the current XF excludes the outboard vents from the performance, which rather undermines the effect. My F-Type had a half-hearted attempt at the same thing, with only a rising centre vent.

    Hope the XF keeps performing well and continues to be a rewarding car to own.

    1. For anybody who hasn’t seen the original XF ‘handshake’ on turning on the ignition:

    2. And thank you. I imagine it is wood, but so deeply lawyered it looks like plastic. I’d love to see more open pore wood finishes in cars.

  2. The XF brochure stated that the wood was real: “The exquisitely crafted interior greets you with form hugging supple leathers, classic real wood veneers and crisp contemporary aluminium surfaces”.

  3. A car, or even part of that car that can make you feel like a seven year old is fine by me. We need more smiles in this gloomy world and I think this Jag has a great party piece.
    Enjoy the XF and keep us posted, Chris

    1. You’re quite right, we need more surprise and delight in our lives. Honda are quite good at adding little touches, but unfortunately most cars are bereft of any such features.

  4. Nice update, and I think you’ve got a bargain, there.

    There are bound to be a few things which need fixing and I’m glad you’ve had them seen to quickly – if things are left, a long list tends to develop, which can then lead to things getting out of hand and wider disenchantment.

    Re playing music, it might be worth investigating an adapter like Tune2air, perhaps?

    1. Thank you for saying so. I found a dongle that slots into the power outlet in the between-seat glovebox. It allows you to attach and charge your phone via USB, and facilitates an aux-aux connection. Crucially it doesn’t interfere with the Bluetooth phone preparation.

  5. Thank you for your report.
    I was a bit staggered to hear that it takes a big dealer two days to fix a screen washer bottle and a whole week to fix a glove box. It was exactly this kind of service approach that made me give up driving Alfas.

    1. And thank you. Nobody keeps a whole glovebox assembly (button, door, actuator) in stock, so it took three days for the assembly to arrive from Jaguar.

    2. That’s what I got told while I was still driving Alfas.
      Now I’m astonished to see what parts are stocked by large Audi dealers and how fast they’re able to source everything imaginable even for older cars.

  6. “necessitating the use of an aux cable like a bloody Neanderthal.”
    Oh the humanity… 😉

    I think everyone who saw the electric glove box latch predicted it would break. Fake looking wood seems to be part of getting it to modern automotive durability levels. Imagine what open pore wood will look like in 10-20 years, it’s the same for leather.
    Glad to hear you are enjoying the car.

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