MORE God-fearing men than myself may be well-advised to follow the ninth commandment; the one that decrees thou shall not covet thy neighbour’s wife. But what about coveting the interior of thy car’s cousin? Surely that’s not off limits?
See, I recently fell under the spell of the stunning, game-changing interior of the Land Rover Velar, with its dual-screen lushness and high-end touch points. As I sat there making lame little cooing sounds, it brought into sharp relief the generational gap between it and the perfectly adequate, but rather less-stunning interior of my XF. I admit to a few improper thoughts, Lord; those of the lustful kind.
Yes, different brands, and models from different eras. The reality is that interior design and in-cabin technology is one area of the automotive world that’s been on a sharp upswing in recent years, so it’s inevitable that design and features considered seductive and cutting edge in 2015 may appear a little passé as 2019 looms.
Specifics? The pop-up rotary gear selector in the XF – which actually debuted in the first-gen XF (X240) from 2007 – never feels as intuitive nor as satisfying to use as a conventional lever. And the air vents that rotate into the open position as the ignition is switched on – another carry-over from the X240 – now feel a little gimmicky.
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But I’ve been diligently noting more practical shortfalls, such as the front door bins that aren’t designed to take a water bottle, or the fact that there’s nowhere to store the key if the cupholders are in use. Then there’s the USB ports mounted high in the rear of the lidded centre console, meaning that the cables’ plugs block you from either placing or retrieving anything from within the box.
But I’ll stop my first-world whinging right there because while the XF stumbles on a few details, it nails the fundamentals comprehensively. The front seats strike a sweet balance between pliant comfort and essential support, the electric column adjustment allows the wheel to glide into an ideal position, and I’m not missing an SUV’s ‘command’ driving position at all.
But what is delivering the most day-to day satisfaction is the dynamic polish. The steering is slick, ideally weighted, and has real nuance either side of centre without ever feeling over-reactive. On this measure alone, the Jag easily beats the multi-mode rack fitted to BMW’s 5 Series. Likewise the ride, which is mostly calm and absorbent, thanks in part to the rear air-springs and adaptive dampers. It’s not what you’d call plush – it’s too disciplined for that – but it dispatches Sydney’s battle-scarred bitumen with just a muted thudding from the 19-inch Goodyears that rarely jars.
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Then there’s its enthusiasm for corners, which is constantly leading me into temptation, especially in the eyes of the law, if not the Lord.