One to enjoy – and keep – here... - Veterinary Practice
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One to enjoy – and keep – here…

ROBBIE TIFFIN finds the Jaguar XF S to be a very impressive car indeed

WHOEVER it was who described the two nations of Great Britain and the United States as being divided by a common language really didn’t know the half of it.

Take manners, for instance. I think our cousins across the water have a very different view from us of what is proper behaviour. It all started right at the beginning of the “special relationship” when, having invited us to their tea party in Boston, that nice Mr Revere had to ride half way across Massachusetts to tell everyone we were coming and to drum up a bit of support.

Why couldn’t they just RSVP like anyone else? Also, there’s LA Galaxy making a fuss about giving us our ball back. Just because David realised a bit late that he wouldn’t be able to play for England, that Europe was a very nice place after all and, of course, that people over there didn’t rate Spouse Spice any more highly than the Madrilenos, you’d think they’d be happy to tear up his contract.

The thing is, people should stick to their own specialist subject and not wander off making up a new set of rules. People like to know where they are – unless you’re in Philadelphia where, in my experience, it’s probably better not to know where you are.

A few years ago, I was on a flight to San Francisco and the charming American sitting next to me cautioned me that, if I really did have to visit the US, I’d be far better off sticking around the edge and to resist any temptation to venture into the middle. Given that he was from over there and much preferred being over here, I have often wondered if that might have been a flash of divine intervention!

Not surprising then to read that visitors to the US are to be asked to pay $10 (which is around six of our quaint pounds) entry fee under new rules approved recently by the Senate. While this entry fee is billed to be part of the new Travel Promotion Act, with delicious irony the scheme will generate cash to be used to promote the US as a “Premier” travel destination.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of a promotion as much as the next man but doesn’t that usually mean that they make it easier or cheaper rather than charging you extra? I am beginning to suspect that the nice man from San Francisco may be trying to protect us from making the mistake of getting past the outside edge.

Thankfully, it appears that the EU has taken this up with our friends from Washington and is now considering charging Americans to come to Europe. So that’ll be all right then.

Sometimes things seem better from a distance (Philadelphia again) but sometimes it’s only when you get up close that you begin to see how excellent something is. To be fair, that’s quite a rare event but, when it happens, it can be truly exciting.

The Jaguar XF S is one such example. I was fortunate to grow up with Jaguars and the family has had several XJ6 and a couple of S Types as well as a venerable V12 XJS, but something has definitely changed. Whereas those Jaguars of the past were largely huge but with remarkably little room inside, and had an interior similar to the wing chairs and walnut of the Garrick Club, the new XF is anything but.

It’s far smaller in terms of outside dimensions but has much more usable space for all five passengers and a deep and capacious boot too. If I were to be picky, I’d say that the boot opening could be a tad wider but I managed to get my golf clubs and enough luggage for a trip to the US in it with no problems.

Moreover, the interior design has had a youthful makeover and is now, instead of being designed by Wagner – dark and foreboding – it appears to have been created from brushed aluminium and figured ebony. More Bang & Olufsen than Gleneagles, if you get my drift.

Glorious detail abounds. Put the keyless ignition fob in your pocket and walk up to the car, it will recognise the key fob and unlock the door for you. Sit in the deep, leather-clad sports seats and put your foot on the brake, push the start button and, hey presto, the circular, milled stainless steel gear sector knob rises out of the centre console and the previously closed air vents rotate to an open position.

It’s probably pointless but I adored it and, accordingly, did it at least 20 times before I got bored and tried out the other toys. The blind spot monitor in the wing mirrors operates a bright yellow image of an overtaking car if one is situated in your blind spot and, although it’s an optional extra, I’d pay £440 in a heartbeat, it’s that good.

Simple but effective

Like so many modern designs, it is difficult to see the front or the rear of the car when you’re in the driving seat but this XF not only boasted parking sensors but also a rear view camera with distance calibration and guide lines to show the direction of the car as you reverse. Simple but effective and a really worthwhile extra.

The inside is simply great. Full stop … or “period” as our American friends might say.

The outside is redolent of an Aston Martin around the rear quarter as well as in the area around the wrap-around rear lights but the whole car is imposing on the road and certainly looks the part more than its predecessor ever did.

The real gem, however, is in the mechanicals. With a 3-litre diesel engine, you wouldn’t expect a 0-60mph time of 5.9 seconds, speed limited to 155mph or 36mpg in normal use but, impressive as that is, it’s just part of the story.

The car is set up beautifully with a soft and cushioning ride but superb poise and handling and with brakes that inspire huge confidence with a complete absence of drama. As you would expect from such a new generation Jaguar, the near silence is disturbed only by a very un-diesel like throaty, but muted, roar when things get more interesting.

With a six-speed sequential shift to complement the automatic transmission, you can make things more interesting quickly and with no more effort than a flex of your fingers but it is the little button on the centre console with the chequered flag on it that really starts to generate some fun.

Press that and the gearbox stops thinking for you and allows you to take its 275 PS up to the red line and keep it there for as long as you have enough road and courage ahead of you.

For a car that weighs in at almost 2,400kg, this is hugely impressive but utterly and completely addictive. So much so that one wonders how they can improve its poise, refinement and absolute excitement with a “mere” 3.0 diesel engine.

If we go back to our American friends for a moment, it seems that Jaguar’s hugely impressive use of the latest technology to bring different images to either the driver or front-seat passenger on its new split screen navigation/entertainment system in the brand new XJS may be illegal in the US. Despite the fact that the driver cannot see the DVD or TV playing in front of the passenger, jobsworths in the US may ban this feature so I have come up with an idea. Let’s not send them any more of our fine new Jaguars!

After all, the last time they enjoyed a Jaguar this much they changed its name to XKE without asking. So this time, let’s keep them all to ourselves and charge them $10 just to sit in one.

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