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Author Topic: 2015 Jaguar XF - Service loaner test drive . . .  (Read 1836 times)
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« on: November 29, 2015, 10:54:37 PM »

This is quite the "loaner" .  .  .  
November 16, 2015 
If you've read the story of my 2001 Jaguar XK8 convertible from February, you may recall that I've been experiencing a few nagging fuel management issues with the car.  The first crank/no start I encountered happened right after purchase at the gas station two miles from my house requiring a tow.  I had power at the fuel pump, but no pressure at the filter.  A new fuel pump solved the problem, or so I thought.  Crank/no start concern number 2 occurred the following day resulting in tow number two back to my house. 
My years as a tech have taught me that getting bad parts right out of the box does occur, albeit not that often.  It's quite possible that I just got a bad pump.  But my experience with Jaguar electronics was making me believe that there is more going on here than meets the eye.  I listened to my gut this time and put the car on a rollback bound for Hennessy Jaguar in Atlanta.  For those keeping score at home, this would be week of ownership number 2, and tow number 3. 
My gut was right.  Another fuel pump, pickup screen, sending unit, filter, tank wiring harness, and two fuel line check valves later, I was up and running again.  It's hard to say exactly what component failed and took out the others.  Personally, I think one of the check valves came apart and plugged the fuel supply line which killed the pump.  But we'll never know.  The only thing that matters at this point is that my crank/no start troubles have been solved.  And there was much rejoicing in the form of a road trip to Tampa, Florida during which all was well. 
Around that same time, my fuel gauge dropped to empty one summer night as I was leaving work.  That single occurrance that corrected itself almost immediately back then has morphed into a gauge that is not working a majority of the time today.  I've encountered this before with my 1998 XJ8-L.  This is a known issue with Jaguars of this vintage with the sending unit being the culprit most of the time.  A new sending unit was part of the repairs made in March.  If this one turns out to be faulty, it's covered under warranty.  I scheduled the appointment and returned to the dealer on November 16.  Once again, there was much rejoicing because I was able to drive the car to Altanta, (no tow needed !). 
Service Advisor Heidi made arrangements to put me in one of their "Service Loaner" program cars, which was awesome !  Having this available meant I didn't have to worry about bothering someone to make the trip to Altanta twice with me, (once to drop the car off, and another to pick it up).  Heidi made copies of my driver's license and insurance card while I waited for the Service Porter to get the car.  I was expecting "basic transportation," meaning the 200k mile trade-in from the wholesale row.  I didn't know how to react when the Service Porter drove up in this .  .  . 
Heidi handed me the fob, (there is no key), to a 2015 Jaguar XF Sedan.  My initial reaction could best be described as a blank stare of disbelief.  Before me was, literally, a brand new car, having a mere 1,343 miles on the odometer. 
I followed the blank stare with my interpretation of Wayne and Garth's "I'm not worthy."   You're about to put me behind the wheel of a brand new Jaguar with a $60k window sticker.  I'm sure you have customers who expect this class of loaner when dropping their car off for service.  But this is not appropriate in my case.  Are you sure this is right ?  Heidi reassured me that this was, indeed, the correct vehicle, and that the police would not chase me when I leave the dealership to go home.   
The car .  .  .  
New models can be a make-or-break proposition in the automobile industry.  Customers must be able to identify a new model with the brand name and image.  But they also have to view the product as truly "new."  The introduction of the XF for the 2009 model year was a pivotal moment for Jaguar for two reasons.  It had to be a proper replacement for the S-Type sedan.  This wasn't anticipated to be that difficult considering the S-Type never really did anything for the senses.  It was a good car, especially the supercharged R version, but it wasn't a great car.  Of greater importance was the fact that the very capable yet unloved X-Type was being discontinued after 2009.  This meant the new XF was going to pull double duty serving not only as Jaguar's new and improved mid-sized sedan, but also as the brand's de facto entry-level car.  It had to the brand sales leader by retaining existing customers in one segment and attracting new customers in another.  This task with the new XF was made that much more challenging because not only was the car an all new model, it also introduced the new styling direction for its future products.  An error in judgment here could have been detrimental. 

Jaguar got this one right.  The enthusiast magazines showered the new model with praise.  Car & Driver magazine editor John Phillips called the XF Jaguar's "best sedan ever."   Editor Tony Sway referred to their long-term test car as "the best new Jag sedan in my memory," adding that his memory went back a long way.  Motor Trend Magazine editors praised their long-term test car's styling, power and performance abilities, and overall charisma.  But more importantly, consumers found a lot to love about the XF and responded by buying them en masse, more than 26,000 of them in 2009, a number far greater than in any S-Type model year. 
For 2015, the XF is available in 8 different variations.  The base sedan features a 240 hp 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine.  The "Sport" sedan and "Portfolio" sedan are both available in RWD or AWD and feature a 340 hp supercharged V6.  Customers wanting even more punch can choose from three models powered by a supercharged 5.0L V8 that makes 470 hp ("Supercharged sedan"), 510 hp ("XFR"), or 550 hp ("XFR-S" which will rocket 0 - 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and run the quarter mile in 12.3 seconds !).  All XF models feature Jaguar's 8-speed shiftable automatic transmission.  This car is a RWD Portfolio version finished in British Racing Green. 
It's loaded to the hilt as expected .  .  . 

Mechanical:   ~  340 hp Supercharged 3.0L V6  ~  8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters on the steering wheel  ~  19 inch wheels  ~  4-wheel disc brakes with ABS and Emergency Braking Assist  ~  Traction control  ~  Stability control. 

Comfort & Convenience:   ~  Premium leather power seats (10-way driver, 8-way passenger)  ~  Heated and cooled front seats  ~  Dual zone climate control with vents for the rear seats  ~  Backup camera  ~  Front and rear parking aid sensors  ~  Power moonroof. 

Safety:   ~  Airbags everywhere  ~  Blind spot monitoring  ~  Adaptive self-leveling HID headlamps  ~  Heated windshield  ~  Rain sensing windshield wipers. 

Gadgets:   ~  Start/Stop button in center console, (i.e. no "ignition key," only a fob)  ~  AM/FM/CD/Sat radio with bluetooth, USB port, and 17 speakers  ~  Navigation system  ~  "ECO" engine management system, (i.e. shuts engine off at signal lights)  ~  Hide-away dash vents  ~  Electric glove box release.
Jaguar's new design direction introduced in 2009 still looks quite handsome in 2015. 

The round headlamps that have adorned Jaguars for decades have been replaced with contemporary aero units.  The headlamps themselves are self-leveling Xenon HID lamps.  An adaptive feature is included that allows for the headlamps to follow the steering under certain conditions.

I spent several minutes adjusting the seat and getting used to the controls.  Time to hit the road before Heidi changes her mind .  .  . 
The drive .  .  .  
Seating seems to have become the priority issue for me as I continue to age.  The XF received a lot of praise for the design of its front seats, and the overall level of comfort.  I wholeheartedly agree.  The 10-way power driver's seat is absolutely superb and offers lots of support in all the right places.  What it lacks in soft feel is made up for by how well it "fits."  A great driving position was easy to find.

Instinctively, I reached for the ignition key to put it into the lock cylinder and remembered that this car is equipped with neither.  The multi-function remote fob takes the place of both.  When sensors detect the fob nearby, the start button in the center console is enabled.  In other words, after unlocking the doors, put the fob in your pocket, climb in, push the brake pedal, and push the "Start" button.  At this point, the circular knob rises from the center console.  This is the 21st century version of a shift lever.  The pattern is the same - P R N D S.  The "S" stands for "Sport," and enables the paddle shifters on the back of the steering wheel. 
Switching the climate control system on allows the dash vents to do their thing.   
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I'm not sure how I feel about this feature.  Part of me likes the clean look of the dash with the system off.  Another part sees this as an unnecessarily motorized component that could be expensive to fix if it breaks.

The supercharged 3.0L V6 comes to life in an uneventful manner.  This engine is quiet and extremely smooth.  The starter, itself, is very quiet in its operation.  I was surprised by the 1,500 rpm high idle on initial startup, which seemed unusually high by today's standards.  High idle doesn't last very long, and all was normal again after a few seconds.  I twisted the shift knob and hit the road.

The "ECO" mode made its presence known at the first signal light I encountered.  The engine will shut off once the car comes to a complete stop and the brake pedal remains depressed.  The green "ECO" lamp can be seen by the tachometer in the photo below.

In this system, any movement in the brake pedal causes the engine to restart.  Brake pedal inputs to the computer in years past have always been in the form of "on" or "off."  This system appears to actually track the movement of the brake pedal.  Sitting at a signal light with the brake pedal depressed engages ECO mode and kills the engine.  I found that slight upward movement of the pedal with the brakes still applied and the car not moving will cause the engine to restart.  In normal traffic, the ECO system performed its tasks seamlessly with only a very slight vibration being felt from the starter engaging.

The first thing I noticed was how responsive the V6 was.  There is no lag of any kind with a supercharger.  Power delivery was instant and abundant.  With 340 hp available, 0 to 60 mph is reported to take less than 6 seconds in spite of the car's 3,900 pound curb weight.  A few short bursts of acceleration made this claim very believable.  This is also due in part to the car's 8 forward gears.  Even with a rather tall 2.56 rear axle ratio, the gearing in the transmission allows peak power to be available at a wide range of speeds. 

Those 2.56 highway gears also allow for greatly reduced engine rpm while cruising.  This is what you see while cruising at 70 mph.

At 70 mph, the engine is turning 1,500 rpm !  If passing power is needed, the transmission downshifts and brings the engine into the power band and off you go.  At 60 mph .  .  .

.  .  . the engine is turning a mere 1,300 rpm.  The same passing principle applies here as well.  The power band is always a gear or two away depending on your right foot. 

This worked really well on my journey back to Athens.  I suspect it would also work fine in Florida, Kansas, and anywhere else where the terrain is relatively flat.  But I can't help but wonder how it would work in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Colorado, or anywhere in the mountains.  I would think the transmission would want to shift a lot !   There is probably something programmed into the transmission calibration that adjusts for this, be it through active learning, or through some kind of sensor input.  Not sure really.  Everything worked very well in northern Georgia.

My trip back to Athens was quite pleasant, if uneventful.  The driver's seat was wonderful.  The interior noise level was minimal.  Ride quality did not suffer at the hands of the 19 inch wheels and 40-series tires.  The short sidewall made surface imperfections and expansion joints noticeable, but not offensive. 

The verdict .  .  .
I found a lot to like about this car.  The styling is both contemporary and quite good looking while retaining styling cues from Jaguar's past, (like the mesh grille).  The interior remains elegant in appearance and assembled like a proper Jaguar.  Improvements needed in previous Jaguar models, (like the size and placement of the nav screen), have been addressed.  Powertrain options all provide plenty of power, yet will still allow for 28-30 mpg on the highway.  Drivers of all shapes and sizes should be able to find a good driving position and be exceptionally comfortable.  Rear seat passengers appear to have plenty of room.  And the trunk is quite large.

Yet I don't see myself owning one.  I've said before that I don't shop for "a car," but rather for "an experience."   The XF did everything very well, but just didn't speak to me.  The car seems too automated.  There is a gadget and whirligig for everything.  Some are great, like the driver's seat functions.  Others, (like the hide-away dash vents), seem like adding technology simply for the sake of adding technology.  It serves no purpose other than making the car more expensive to fix.  But this is what the consumer demands in 2015.  I am the minority here, and prefer to be more involved in the driving experience rather than isolated from it.

Don't get me wrong.  I think the XF is a great car.  But it just may not be a great car for me .  .  .

~  Beautiful to look at on the inside and outside.
~  Abundant power available at any speed.
~  Fabulous road manners.
~  Wonderful driver's seat.
~  Has the best headlamps of any car I have driven.
~  Jaguar is number 3 on J. D. Power's Initial Quality list for 2015.
~  Feels like a bank vault on wheels - solid, secure, and capable.

~  Feels like a bank vault on wheels - too refined, automated, and isolated from the driving experience.
~  Jaguar still hasn't quite separated itself from the concept of "glitches" it has become famous for, (the XF model ranks below average in initial quality).
~  Abundance of technology may be expensive to fix down the road.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2015, 11:25:33 PM by Oldcarsarecool » Logged

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