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Having been loaned an XF over the weekend I thought I would make a few comments by way of comparison with my present vehicle - Lexus GS450h. Apologies in advance if this all appears to ramble on at too greater a length, and am certainly not professing to be any kind of motoring correspondent, but just thought it may be interesting see my views on what turn out to be two surprisingly closely matched cars.

Exterior- The car loaned was in Grey, and this not one of my favourite colours. That aside in profile its very similar to the Lexus, however where the Lexus shape is very pleasing having changed very little since its UK launch in '05, the Jaguar is a much more striking shape, with even the headlights which have been critisized, being cleverly designed to form part of the curve of the front of the car blending neatly into the bonnet. And the slope of the C pillar (which I am told is at the same angle as the XK) coupled with the Aston Martin like rear lights give the car a real coupe appearance.

Interior- I was expecting big things for the cabin, given my experience of Jaguars has always been very good in this respect. My last Jaguar, an XJ (X350), lived up to the company’s reputation for some of the best wood trim this side of a Rolls Royce, but call me old fashioned, I was no fan of the Oak veneer in the Portfolio much preferring the traditional Walnut. The graining of the wood in a jaguar always had a subtlety, this Oak looked both odd fake and over the top. I never thought I would say this, but the Burr Maple in my Lexus looks considerably better. Also I was less than convinced by some of the plastics used particularly on the doors, with the silver grey trim looking exactly what it was - silver grey plastic. Also whilst I am moaning I have to say I felt a little disappointed by the way the cup holder covers, and centre armrest lid felt when opening and closing. Your probably thinking I am being overly fussy, but I never had any concerns in any of the four Jaguars’ I have owned over a ten year period, and in my Lexus (apart from the rear ashtray, which looks and feels distinctly cheap) everything opens and closes with a beautifully damped action, and I understand all at the same speed! On the positive the Suede look headlining looked and felt fantastic, and the leather trimmed dashboard and door tops with contrast stitching certainly helps to give the car a Luxury feel.
The instruments on my Lexus are faced in turned aluminum and to prevent the resulting problems with reflections the covers electronically adjust to the amount of light they let through, all typically clever Japanese technology, by contrast the Jaguars dials are quite simple but very clear and neatly styled, but why no temperature gauge? In terms of other controls and equipment the operation of the Media screen could do with improved functionality, taking too many key presses to get from one function to the next, although it may be possible through studying the handbook to find short cuts. The Portfolio has more seat adjustments than my Lexus with the four way lumbar adjustment being useful.
IPod connection and functionality is in a different league to the basic dealer fit system I have on my car. Sound quality from the Bowes and Wilkins system was off course very good but similar to the quality of the Mark Levinsen system Lexus put in the GS, albeit I don’t have DAB radio, but strangely do have cassette player in my car! I thought the rotary gear selector was brilliant and very easy to use, to my mind that feature is a real step forward for Jaguar over the competition, and I particularly like the way you can switch the car off and it automatically put itself into Park. In terms of other equipment both cars are very closely matched with the rear camera and keyless entry being a little more efficient in operation on the Jaguar.

Driving- When I press the start button on the Lexus usually all you hear is a beep from the dash and the word 'READY' appears on the display. Because it’s a hybrid provided the car is warmed up usually the petrol engine doesn’t need to start so there is no engine noise at all, so it was a bit different when I first started the Jaguar to hear the diesel clatter, but as has been said so many times in the motoring press, you can barely tell it’s a diesel, and on the move its quieter than most petrol engines, in fact the 3.0 engine is generally superb, delivering the same economy as my Lexus (low 30mpg), and whilst my Lexus always feels fast I have to say the XF feels just as quick, in fact the 0-60 times are the same for both cars.
In true Lexus fashion you barely hear any engine noise, and if running on electric motor alone is absolutely silent. Although despite being a diesel the Jaguar is not that far behind. The Jaguar even produces less co2!
A lot of reviews have criticized the ride on the 20 inch wheels, and I think it’s certainly firmer than an XF I tried briefly last year on standard wheels, although it’s not a lot different to my firm riding GS which runs on only 18 inch wheels. In terms of overall refinement the Lexus produces more road noise on coarse surfaces, but as already said the drive train is quieter. Wind noise on the motorway is about the same on both cars. The steering on the XF felt a little more positive than on the Lexus, and whilst I would be the first to say I am no expert the handling felt about the same on both.

Fit finish and build quality- When I open the bonnet on my Lexus or look around the boot opening or look in the fuel filler area and indeed anywhere else on the car, the finish and attention to detail is absolutely first rate and amongst the best I have seen on any car. Lexus really do excel in this area. I have owned my car for three years this October and apart from a barely visible faint ripple on the leading edge of the bonnet, which my dealers body shop said is caused in the pressing process of the metal, and said only somebody putting it politely as fastidious as me would notice, the car has not a single blemish or nib anywhere on the bodywork, with all the panels fitting to millimeter perfection. The only issue being, with my cars non metallic black paint finish which shows every single slight surface abrasion which would remain invisible on light colour cars. I use a product call Zymol to maintain the cars finish, but even though its professionally valeted twice a year with what is meant to be one of the top waxes on the market, it’s impossible to prevent marks appearing. Also the front of the car, despite leaving a large gap form the car in front on the motorway, is susceptible to small stone chips particularly on the bumper.
In the cabin things like carpeting of a thickness of weave you would be happy to have in your home all reinforce the Lexus reputation for quality. Regrettably the XF just can’t match the Lexus in this respect as there is just not the same attention to detail, and on the car I tried the front passenger door trim wasn’t clipped on properly causing it to creak - at least a hefty shove clipped into place sorting the problem out, but the driver’s seatbelt buckle also creaked when the sun warmed the cabin, and under the bonnet the coolant expansion tank seemed to have a small leak, and whilst by the end of the weekend I seemed to have got the hang of it, the glove box touch control switch was a hit and miss affair. However despite these criticisms’ the dashboard and cabin design on the Jaguar is still better than that of the Lexus with clever use of materials and features like the blue cabin light and revolving air vents. What lets the Lexus down, and it’s all the more surprising given the quality of the materials elsewhere, is the dash moulding which seems to be some sort of vinyl with embossed graining. Lexus have certainly improved this on newer models such as the IS and LS.

To sum up, my Lexus is the GS450h with Sunroof and Adaptive Cruise Control, has a list price is about £49,000. An XF Portfolio S the way I would have it specked with ACC, Parking Camera, BLIS, Jaguar Voice, and Walnut Veneer, would be cheaper, but dealer discounts could see that change. If I had to replace my car now I would almost certainly go with the Jaguar, but as things stand the two cars are so closely matched with both cars advantages and disadvantages out weighing those of the other car that I could see no real benefit to switch. Also not least as my Lexus hasn't even covered 6,000 miles!

However whilst not a fair comparison, and not so applicable to this site, if we were talking about the new XJ which I saw at a customer clinic in 2006, and lucky enough to see at the launch in Chelsea recently, then things would be very different. I would have the XJ in a blink of the eye.

As I said way back in the beginning, I hope I don’t appear like I am trying to be some sort of journalist, and if you haven’t already got bored and given up reading by this point, please forgive me as I was just keen to share my experience of my few days with the XF. By the way I hope I haven't won the award for longest post!

Regards

Keith
 

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Thanks for the write up Keith, very kind of you to spend the time to write that lot.

Having never actually owned a "luxury" car, and this being my first move into having one of our cars in that bracket it is very useful to read of other peoples opinions.

You can read magazines and internet "road tests" as much as you like, but I feel that actual real world reviews from actual owners provide much more of an insight.

It is owners that will pick up on the details that magazines may well gloss over. And of course most owners dont make their money from advertising revenue, so I can trust them not to be quite as biassed.... :lol:

I have to admit that I did not check the lexus when conducting the survey on what car to purchase, we did the usual Audi, BMW, Mercedes and of course Jaguar. For some reason that escapes me we missed off lexus. Though looking at the cars, I cant for the life of me think why we would have missed them out! Perhaps in a couple of years I will have more awareness of the luxury market and will include them next time round.


Thanks again.
 

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My problem with Lexus cars is not so much design - that is all about personal opinion - but they seem very clinical. Good, but clinical.

They don't seem to have any character or soul.

Is it me? :?
 

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twosheds said:
Is it me? :?
It might be, but in that case it is me too.

I also chose the XF over Audi and BMW for the soul (for lack of a better word, perhaps a Jag swear box would be in order?) of it.
I kind of expected to have to trade some quality in exchange but, knock on wood, I don't think I have. Yet.
Perhaps there is such a thing as a free lunch?

BTW, MB and Lexus were not in contention. Not me at all.
 
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