You can’t call my job ‘normal’. Driving the very latest cars, presenting videos and flying from country to country means a varied schedule from one week to the next; it’s fair to say it doesn’t involve the usual office hours or meetings, for instance.
However, I’m now getting a taste of what many business buyers might be used to on the road, as I’ve traded the Jaguar XE junior exec saloon we had on fleet for the brand’s larger, full-on executive XF model.
But it’s not because I’ve become a corporate high-flyer overnight. I don’t spend my evenings poring over company car lists, nor do I possess a deep-rooted wish to climb from a middle-management motor to an executive express. Instead, there are some important reasons why I found myself collecting our XF from Lookers Jaguar Land Rover West London this week.
Firstly, it’s do with needs. I clocked up more mileage in my XE than almost anyone else in the office, thanks to a regular 140-mile round trip to our central London base and many long-distance runs to filming locations. A comfortable car that’s preferably diesel powered is ideal for me, then.
Secondly, having already lived with an XE, I would like to think I can accurately analyse whether these two new volume-selling saloons have what it takes to make Jaguar’s future a successful one. Well… that’s what I told my boss anyway. Truth is I’m a massive Jag fan and wanted to see what a customer trading up from XE to XF might find.
It’s the first retailer to show off JLR’s new ‘global Arch’ design – and the word ‘retailer’ is a key one, as this is like no old-fashioned dealership. I was met on the forecourt and directed inside where everyone knew my name, and then I was shown upstairs to a smart coffee bar. On one side, there were around 25 Jaguars, and on the other, 20-odd Land Rovers, arranged like clothes rails in a Knightsbridge department store. The site cost £12m, has ‘Drive In’ service bays (where you drive your car in and a like-for-like courtesy vehicle is waiting for you) and a roof with space for over 100 cars. It’s like no other dealership I’ve ever been to.
It’s here where handover coordinator Anthony Cross reveals the new Auto Express Jag. In contrast to the racy R-Sport XE, the XF is more ‘traditional’. It’s in range-topping Portfolio spec, complete with lashings of chrome and leather seats.
We’ve specified plenty of options, too – full-LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, tinted windows, adaptive dampers, soft-close doors and much more. We’ve also gone for the £2,095 InControl infotainment system with a 10.2-inch widescreen and upgraded 825W Meridian surround sound system. Oh, and for a touch of extra glam, Italian Racing Red paintwork, costing £690.
We’ve stuck with the tried-and-tested – and also best-selling – combination of Jag’s 178bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel with the eight-speed automatic gearbox for the perfect comparison with the XE.
As I was talked round the car and the keys were handed over, I had a sense that running this Jaguar is not going to be a ‘normal’ experience. It’s going to be a special one.
Model: Jaguar XF Portfolio 2.0d 180
Price new: £39,050
Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
Options: Italian Racing Red paint (£690), Adaptive LED lights (£1,250), InControl Touch Pro with Meridian Stereo (£2,095), Active Safety Pack (£840), Advance Parking Assist Pack (£1,655), Adaptive Dynamics (£1,020)
Insurance*: Group: 29, Quote £789