When it comes to in-car entertainment Jaguar has really pushed the boat out. Jag has joined forces with legendary speaker manufacturer Bowers & Wilkins and created the best factory fitted audio system that I have ever heard. I’ve never been one to tick the box when it comes to premium in-car sound systems, but Jaguar has gone some way to change my point of view on this matter.
With 440W of power on tap, you can pretty much pump your music as loud as you like with no fear of distortion creeping into proceedings. But don’t go thinking that all that power means that you have to listen to all your music at ear bleeding volume levels, it also means that it can drive the plethora of speakers in the cabin with superb levels of clarity, without compromising the bass.
You can set the soundstage to standard two channel stereo, three channel or Dolby Pro Logic II. The latter is by far the best option and really fills the cabin with sound that feels as if it’s coming from directly in front of the car, regardless of seating position.
The cabin in the XF is also incredibly well insulated from road and engine noise, so even though I had masses of music power at my disposal, I never felt the need to push the volume that high. Unusually, the Bowers & Wilkins system also managed to turn its hand to any and every type of music with equal dexterity – whether that be a delicate acoustic rendition, an R&B anthem with thumping bass or Dave Grohl screaming.
The XF comes with an impressive array of source options to make the most of that superb sound quality. The basics include AM and FM radio reception, with DAB digital radio thrown in for good measure. There’s also a six disc, in-dash CD changer and an analogue AUX input. But the most important source options are the USB and iPod connections. Located in the centre console storage bin, you’ll find a USB port, and an iPod cable.
I had no problem hooking up my iPhone to the XF, as well as various iPods. You get complete control of your iPod from the in-car system, although as always, the best option is to create a selection of playlists, since navigating a large music library while driving is never the best idea. If you don’t have an iPod, you can just plug in a USB key full of music, and considering that you can pick up 16GB USB keys for around £20 these days, it might be the best option.
Your source options don’t stop with audio either, since you can also watch TV. The XF comes with both analogue and digital TV tuners and the 7in LCD screen gives a good account of itself when watching your favourite show. Viewing angles are good, but obviously you can’t watch TV when the car is moving – you’ll need the new XJ for that with its dual-view screen for that. The XF did a good job of locking onto stations, especially via the DVB-T tuner, even in the TrustedReviews car park, which is notoriously bad for TV reception.
Considering the plethora of source options on offer, it’s somewhat surprising that the system in the XF doesn’t offer DVD playback. Not that I would be too bothered by its absence, but I guess if you were stuck waiting in the car for a while and there was nothing good on TV, you might miss it.