This had to be a first! I got my hands on the keys to our long-terming Jaguar XF, within a month of its arrival and more unusually, it was squeaky clean. If you follow this section in the magazine then you will doubtless be aware that it’s sort of a wheels tradition to pass on a long-term car to someone only when it’s filthy and running on fumes, so yes this was definitely a first. Well, almost. The moment I started the engine I was greeted by the dreaded gong telling me that I had a driving range of exactly zero kilometres. Or about two kays less than the nearest petrol station. Haven’t lost the touch boys!

I flicked to Eco and nursed the XF to its watering hole, and after a lavish Dh25 worth of 98 Octane treatment, I noticed that the fuel indicator had actually not budged from the depths of its petrolless chasm. It only revealed the glorious three bars of fuel when the engine was restarted. Not exactly the best first acquaintance.

The XF does look good though. I agree with Amit, that it is a sophisticated-looking thing and the design, which has hardly changed from the first-generation car, is still fresh and contemporary. More importantly however, the new car is about 190kg lighter than the one it replaces and at 1,595kg it is one of the lightest in its class. This means that even though our tester has the smaller four-cylinder engine 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, its 238 horsepower and 340Nm of torque are sufficient to make the XF move in a hurry.

What’s also noteworthy is the superb balance between ride and handling. It’s comfortable without being too wallowy, in fact it is quite brisk and pointy on the move. The reduced weight is clearly evident in the way the XF changes direction.

The cabin, is pretty neat too, with great attention being paid to the quality of materials and finish. All in all it’s more refined than its predecessor in every way.

Complaints? I feel the throttle and the brake pedal sit too close to each other, which is extremely annoying. But then I’m probably nitpicking here.

I’ll hand over the key to Amit next week and I promise to uphold the wheels long-term tester tradition.

The progress

Week 1 wheels Arabic editor Fadi is not impressed with the XF’s styling; he thinks it doesn’t stand out enough. But then he’s impossibly shallow when it comes to his choice of cars sometimes. He likes the cabin, though, and finds the ride quality superb.

Highs Good to drive, ride, cabin.

Lows Bland exterior styling.

Week 2 Editor Amit disagrees with Fadi on the subject of the XF’s exterior aesthetics. He doesn’t quite like the cheesy graphics on the infotainment display, though, or the engine’s lack of enthusiasm in Eco mode.

Highs Self-assuredly handsome.

Lows Cringe-worthy graphics on the central infotainment system display.