We all do it don’t we? Decide what type of car we want to buy and then start looking. That’s a major part of the fun isn’t it, the thrill of the chase? We start with an idea of how much we want to spend and the make and model we are interested in – obviously it’s a Jaguar (!) – and in my case a pretty close idea of the precise specification, mileage, and even the colours I don’t want, like white (sorry to off end, I know it’s very popular at the moment). I did the usual computer search for the car I wanted which was a top specification XF S Portfolio: a 3.0-litre model with under 40,000 miles and for under £25,000. This brought up about 25 cars to choose from, but then things got difficult as I wanted a sliding sunroof which it seems is quite a rare option chosen for new cars. That requirement dropped the choice to just two cars and by chance there was a 2014 XF Portfolio (not S) available at my local Jaguar dealer in Chichester, so I went to have a look and a drive. It looked very nice in Italian Racing Red with a dark interior but needed a couple of things attending to, which they agreed to do. But unfortunately our negotiations then stalled as they were not too flexible when it came to the cost of changing and it was not the ‘S’ version I really wanted. Oh well, on to the next one!
The next one was a long way away, at a large Jaguar dealership in Cambridgeshire, so I contacted them and arranged a time to view. I did ask that the car be in the dry when I saw it as it was a very rainy day. “No problem” came the reply, so I set off around a clogged M25. Now the good thing about this car was that it was pretty much the exact specification that I would have chosen if I had bought it new at about £50,000 plus.
It was a Portfolio ‘S’ in Black Amethyst with Barley interior, and the advert read, “One owner, full Jag history and two years Jaguar warranty”, and only 28,000 miles. It was also the 2011 facelifted car and the price was fair too, as they said it had just been reduced.
The buying experience
When I turned up the car had been washed and leathered but not valeted recently so it did not look at its best. It had been left out in a very leafy area so there were residue marks on the paint and the engine bay was filled with dead leaves and twigs. And it turned out that the car had actually had two owners and was just past the five year cut-off for a full Jaguar warranty! Not a great start.
Hmm, so what should I do? Well having driven this far I thought I should at least try a test drive and things improved from there as I had a longish drive and the car did actually drive extremely well, and I could find no fault with it. A peppy engine, ultra smooth and silent 8-speed gearchange and secure handling with no suspension clonks.
I had a chat with the sales staff who undertook to repaint the bonnet, do a full valet and machine polish, a full service and provide a two year dealer warranty, which I was assured was pretty much the same as a Jaguar one. They also agreed to include the DPF and the air conditioning condenser within the warranty as these are known problem areas not usually covered on the warranty. They also offered a much better trade in price on my Skoda Superb and would deliver the XF to me down in Sussex. That all sounded good so I signed on the dotted line and the car was due to be delivered the following weekend.
The after sales experience
Nothing too unremarkable so far, but that was when the after sales problems began and I have to say that I was surprised that a very large Jaguar main dealer was not better organised. It took over three months and loads of emails and phone calls from me before everything was sorted out. The silly thing was that none of the items were really important, they just needed dealing with!
They had managed to lose the original service book and it took ages to get a replacement and get the proper service stamps in it. They also managed to send some paper work to the wrong address and that included the V5 document from the DVLA! You couldn’t make it up.
What about the car?
But back to the car, what is it like? Well I am one of those people who is a sucker for attractive bodywork (still talking cars of course!) and the XF S is, to my eyes, a very attractive piece of design with its sloping roof giving it a coupe like back end, and an equally elegant but aggressive front. The ‘S’ has some extra bits of body kit which also add something to the visuals and the very nice 20-inch Hydra alloy wheels complete the look. Personally speaking I think these cars look best in the darker colours and I do like a light leather interior as somehow it makes the car feel more luxurious. Mine also has the walnut dash rather than the aluminium which is also very popular.
I guess I’m just a traditionalist at heart so looks wise it touches all the spots. Now for the driving experience. I am fortunate to own a lovely 2006 XJR and an XK convertible as well so I have something to compare the XF against. The biggest difference is that the XF has a diesel engine (3.0 litre twin turbocharged) so you’d think that might hamper the performance and smoothness a bit, but it doesn’t!
On start up the diesel is a little noisier than the V8 petrol engines but that is hardly noticeable compared with other rattly diesels I have owned. As you pull away the car is silky smooth and you can’t really feel the changes in the 8-speed gearbox. It’s the torques that you really notice as with a bit of right foot it will accelerate rapidly at any time and any point in the rev range, and even more so if you use the Sport setting or the paddle shifters (I do like those).
The car also handles very well, though I don’t really explore it that much, but the 20-inch wheels and thin rubber do mean that bumps and pot holes are felt a bit, but not annoyingly so.
The interior is a pleasure to be in with extremely comfortable heated and cooled seats. But I am really not convinced by all this touch screen stuff to work the bits and pieces as I think it is as distracting as using a mobile phone.
One other niggle though is a few intermittent squeaks and rattles from various bits of trim. One day the car will be silent as the grave, the next they are back again to irritate me. To be honest the build quality is not really as solid as my previous Skoda Superb and that is a bit disappointing.
Six months on when writing this I’ve grown to like this car a lot and have spent time detailing it to make it look as nice as it can. I bought it for every day use so it has a few minor blemishes, mainly on the aluminium window trims (does anybody know how to get minor scratches out?), but for a six year old car it still looks very good. Interestingly, of my three Jaguars it is the XJR that impresses me the most. The interior is just beautiful and seems to be of better quality than the other two cars.
And the performance is just Jekyll and Hyde, limousine or rocket ship, depending on what you want. The XK convertible is definitely the most eye-catching and is also very comfortable for a long drive. I’ve had mine for six years now and don’t see myself getting rid of it anytime soon. But here’s a final thought on buying a secondhand car. There is always a pecking order in who to buy from and at the top of the list you would expect to find the franchised Jaguar dealership where you should be able to buy top quality cars with a proper Jaguar warranty, and probably pay top dollar too.
Next comes the non-franchised specialists many of whom sell beautiful cars and provide excellent sales and after sales service, but it is a mixed field so it may be wise to check things out a bit more carefully. Then there are the private sales which are more hit and miss and more about ‘buyer beware’. But you can get some great deals and it is often about assessing the seller as much as the car. Purchasing from another Club member can often be good too.
But here’s a thing; of my three Jaguars (the XF, the XK convertible and the XJR), two were bought from Jaguar dealerships and the XJR privately. Ironically it is the XJR which was in the best prepared condition and has had the fewest faults cropping up in use, now about three years. These experiences lead me to question whether there is actually any merit in buying from a dealership where you usually pay a bit more but expect top service to go with it. Sadly that was not my recent experience, or maybe I was just unlucky? I’d be interested in what others have to say about this.
Incidentally I have also had the rear steel cross member thoroughly rust proofed as corrosion there is a well known occurrence. So, after an indifferent start I’m now keeping my fingers crossed for a long and satisfying ownership. I’ll let you know how it works out!
Fuse Box Water Ingress
Members are bringing to our attention what appears to be a common problem with many older XFs, to the point that apparently some dealerships are changing up to three fuse boxes a week to rectify the problem. This ongoing problem is brought about by the screen washer water pump seal leaking water. This water then travels by capillary action to the fuse box causing shorts. If the car is not under warranty these fuse boxes can be about £800 to replace (plus fitting). Next month we plan to have an article explaining and illustrating this in more detail.
Jaguar XF Models
Forum co-ordinators: Martin Green & Bob Lunney
Email: [email protected]
Technical Adviser: Matt Quail (Sheffield Prestige)
Email: [email protected]
Bodywork/Paintwork Adviser: Keith Parrington
Email: [email protected]
Sharing the Passion Covering all XF saloons and Sportbrake