2009 JAGUAR XF First Steer & Review
I’m not sure why it has taken so long for this British stalwart to start building “beautiful, fast cars” again.
The incredibly 'cool' E-Type series, produced from 1961 through to 1974, still sits on pole position, as one of the best looking cars of all time.
And before that, it was Jaguar’s Mark 11 saloon, which preceded the beautiful XJ6 Series 1. Both were stunning automobiles, with a huge following throughout the world.
In fact, it was these three Jaguars’ of the past, which most inspired chief designer Ian Callum and his team, to attempt to return the company to one, which creates “beautiful, fast cars”.
The XF is definitely better looking in the metal, than any digital SLR rendition we shot of the car, at the Australian launch this week.
You can clearly see both XK and Aston Martin DNA have contributed to the overall stying of the XF, and as far as inspiration donors go, you could do a whole lot worse.
That initial push triggers what someone called a “thrilling piece of mechanical ballet” which I have not seen from any other carmaker.
Rising up out of the console is the JaguarDrive Selector, a cylindrical alloy shifter if you like, which you simply rotate to select your desired transmission mode. Some might protest gimmick, but let me assure you, it is both practical and fast, not to mention the sheer visual theatre of the performance.
And then there are the air-conditioning vents, which when in their inert position, are disguised with more of that patterned aluminium. As the transmission controller rises, these vents simultaneously rotate around to their open position. It’s quite impressive and utterly silent.
If you like a decent sound and who doesn’t, while in those depressing peak hour crawls, then I implore you to tick the option box for the Bowers & Wilkins 440W surround sound system.
We cranked up the volume on some fairly serious “house” number, and not a hint of distortion or base blow out but with outstanding clarity. It’s just a pity that the 4.2 V8 at 5000rpm sounded better!
If you can’t get comfortable in what I will say now, are some of the best sports/luxury seats in the business, then I have the name of a very good chiropractor.
And while pictures of the leather covered steering wheel were not that impressive, it’s a different story behind the wheel. Although the finish is relatively smooth, grip and feel is superb.
Initial turn in is sports car sharp, and the gearing and weight of the speed sensitive power steering is spot on.
If I’m using a few too many superlatives in the piece, then please give me a firm slap on the wrist because I need to use a few more, when it comes to describing the remarkable job Mick Mohan and co, have done with the calibration of the six-speed ZF transmission in the car.
Whilst we are anxious to drive the 4.2 litre V8 Supercharged XF, my pick of powertrain will need some qualification. If someone else is picking up the fuel bills, then go the 4.2 V8. If not, both the diesel and the V6 offer excellent driveability with a surprisingly frugal taste for fuel.
2009 JAGUAR XF First Steer & Review - Part 2
Let’s not be confused this new car is not perfect, but as a first step down a new path for a company that has been moribundly locked in its past for far to long, it is very good.
From the moment you drop into the luxuriously leather clad seats of the XF this car sets its own style, the Start/Stop button pulses with a red light – meant to simulate a heart beat, and then the radical new round gearshift controller rises out of the centre console and the air vents motor open in the dashboard.
Jaguar Australia General Manager, Dorian Lapthorne, assured us it was something every owner would want to show their neighbour.
To a large degree that’s what this new Jaguar is about, discarding the old image and moving the brand down the age profile, already new XF enquiries are coming from much younger buyers.
Hit that start button and in the 4.2-litre natural aspirated V8, it pumps out a reasonable 219kW and 411Nm, that we started out in there’s a satisfying growl from the twin exhaust pipes.
Inside the Jaguar, as you would expect is all leather, with discreet touches of traditional wood and aluminium, but what interesting is the way the designers, lead by Ian Callum, have used the materials, it’s all very new age, and then there’s the blue lighting of the instruments and the similarly blue discreet lighting on the doors.
The smooth freeways soon gave way to the more broken edged B roads of the Yarra Valley as we made our way towards the alpine resort of Mount Buller.
It was on the way there that the Jaguar showed some of its form and a few foibles.
A criticism would be the lack of feeling in the steering, while it is light initially it then seems to loose its way a bit and doesn’t tell the driver a lot about what is happening under the front wheels.
That said the car always feels well controlled and the ride is very smooth, even though our V8 was riding on 19-inch alloy rims. Mohan told us that the 20 inch wheels that are fitted standard to the Supercharged V8 will be offered across the range, while they might be a good look the ride quality will probably deteriorate markedly.
On the run back down the mountain to Melbourne we had a 3.0-litre V6 and while its 175kW of power and 293Nm of torque, was more than up for the job of hauling the slightly lighter 1679kg car along, it just didn’t have the zing of the V8.
Colleague Anthony Crawford drove the 2.7-litre diesel and you will have to read his impressions of that car but I’d say it is a better prospect that the petrol V6.
He says the new Jaguar is all about style, presence and luxury and he wanted the latter to be right in the cars, not the price.
Blackhall believes that if Jaguar can deliver a new experience to luxury car buyers then they will turn away from the German and Japanese rivals.
Time will tell if he is right, but he certainly has a good prospect on his hands, in the Jaguar XF, with which to start.