Elegant but finicky Jag

2010-10-22 14:14

The brand name Jaguar conjures up opulence and elegance, and the XF, the brand’s latest creation, has certainly delivered.

The XF is the kind of car that demands attention so its finicky nature came as a disappointment.

While any passer-by would revel at its looks, the shriek of the alarm lock is enough to make you want to duck inside.

Everything looks neat, tidy and in the right place, both in and outside the car. The instrument layout is simple and uncluttered. Starting the car takes a push of a button and the gear lever protrudes from the centre console.

The 3.0 V6 twin-turbo-charged diesel engine doesn’t roar like a wild cat because the XF is a sophisticated machine and therefore its power is refined.

Jaguar refers to its unique gear lever as the “claw”, which is confusing because it looks nothing like a cat’s claw but rather like a big round button that retracts back into the console once the car is switched off.

While everything about the car is fancy, and you simply turn the dial to change gears to park, drive and reverse, I don’t like it. Just the other day my front bumper was nearly “kissed” by a car in front when it started rolling back at the robot. Hitting a normal gear lever would be much quicker in these kind of situations, but in the situation I was in I had to look down at the button to see which way I had to turn the knob first.

Another thing. I had expected to get good mileage out of the 69.5-litre fuel tank, yet only managed less than 400km while driving at relatively average speeds.

The beauty about the XF, however, is that it feels as though you are floating on the road no matter how fast or slow you’re driving, so you need to keep on watching the speedometer.

Because the car is elegant, I often forgot how much power it holds under the bonnet. And I tell you, trying to make a quick dash leaves you looking like a show-off more so when that 600Nm of torque starts to make wheels spin.

The multimedia system with built-in navigation is what annoyed me the most. The touch-screen system is easy to use, but not being able to punch in a destination while the car is in motion was frustrating. Yes it’s a good safety function to make sure the driver is not distracted, but it meant I had to pull over at night to enter an address I was looking for. Not even passengers are able to input anything either until the car comes to a complete stop.

It’s a lovely car and for under R1 million it gives BMW’s 7-Series and Audi’s A8 a good run for their money.

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