Lucky as I am, being a motoring journalist does not simply consist of driving around in flashy cars. 6.00am check-ins, long days of travelling and trying to write a considered road test while squeezed into seat 26E on a BA flight keep your feet on the ground. Metaphorically, at least.
However, there are times when it all comes together: a fabulous car on fabulous roads in fabulous weather. And time to enjoy it. I had one of those days earlier this week. The Jaguar XF launch saw us picking up cars from Munich airport (the XF press conference was held by Terminal 1, just a few metres away from the Audi centre) and driving south. We wound out through the immaculately farmed flat lands south of the city and then headed up into the mountains.
It was the express intention of Jaguar’s PR department to launch the car on the same roads used by the German carmakers. It was a small, and very gentle, British invasion of Bavaria. The first day was spent in the XF 2.2, on a three-hour drive towards the Austrian border. It’s a fine car, well balanced and highly polished. More importantly, it has much more enthusiasm for the open road than BMW’s new (and remarkably, stolid) 5-series.
However, day two was the real treat. Blue skies, blistering heat and an XFR. Now I know that the conditions couldn’t have been better, but this is a superb car. It may be extremely powerful, but it goes about its business with incredible poise. The ride was beautifully damped, the handling crisp and the engine unobtrusive until I wanted to pass one of the numerous bumbling Bavarian tractors. I say pass. I meant virtually overfly.
Compared to, say AMG’s Merc CLS, which is permanently on edge, the XFR is the model of discretion. Until it is is provoked. Then this car will reveal that it has huge teeth. Huge but all very highly polished.
The second car of the morning was the spicy version of the V6 diesel, almost as quick as the XFR, but with almost double the real-world economy. More refined than Autocar’s similarly-engined XJ, this type of car - sensibly-sized and hugely quick - has to be the pattern for the suburban supercar of the near future.
As Jaguar bosses pointed out on the day, last year the market for XF-size diesel cars was split 45 percent in favour of six-cylinder engines. So far this year, 75 percent of sales are four-cylinder engines.
Which is why, on the first day of the launch, Jaguar drove an XF 2.2 diesel from Coventry to Munich airport and returned a real-world 57mpg. This is the way of the future. The fact that four-cylinder Jaguars will become the norm made driving the XFR even more of a special event.