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12-13-2007, 09:18 PM

Purr-fect ... new Jag drives as well as it looks

NEVER has one car been so important to a car firm than the new XF is to Jaguar. It’s like a gambler putting all his chips on one set of cards.

And having just had a world exclusive drive of the XF, I can tell you they have the winning hand - this is a motoring full house.

The XF is the cornerstone to reviving the famous firm’s fortunes by attracting a new generation of younger businessmen buyers whilst keeping their traditional customers.

Its dynamic coupé profile signals a new beginning for Jaguar. After years of conservative retro styling, this is a Jag that won’t suffer the “old man’s car” tag. This is very much Cool Britannia.

Design boss Ian Callum has produced a car brimming with attitude, a thoroughly modern Jaguar with flowing curves and lots of character.

It is a very distinctive car - its expressive new face features a big mesh grille and staring headlights that sparkle like jewellery. And its dramatically sloping roof gives it a powerful stance like a big cat about to pounce.

It’s all perfectly finished off by a beautifully sculptured rear end that has clearly been inspired by the firm’s stunning XK Coupé, and features long, curving rear lights that are linked by a band of chrome that wraps around the boot like a belt.

Ian has a burning belief that he has designed the right car at the right time to once again make Jaguar one of the most desirable brands in motoring. I think he’s spot on.

But Jaguar knew that the XF has to drive as well as it looks - sexy looks alone are not enough to beat BMW, Mercedes and Audi.

And have they delivered. The XF is a dream drive, a saloon that handles like a sports car, especially if you’re in the top-of-the-range 4.2litre V8 supercharged version.

This car does everything with an effortless style. Like a classic thoroughbred, it can switch from gliding gracefully through city traffic to high-speed motoring on demanding roads - and all with the same immaculate poise. This is a car without a weakness.


The steering is pin sharp and precise and makes an average driver feel like a budding Lewis Hamilton. It devours bends in a way that makes you forget it’s a big saloon capable of transporting four adults in five-star luxury.

Even the engine note of the mighty supercharged V8 is a super smooth velvety growl of intent that opens out into a full symphony of sound that stirs the soul.

Floor the accelerator and 0-60 mph flashes past in 5.1 seconds all the way to a limited 155mph. Drive it sensibly and you can get around 22mpg. Enjoy the engine to the max and it drops to around 15mpg.

But the XF also gets Jaguar’s excellent 2.7litre diesel capable of just under 40mpg and a 3litre petrol for the more economically minded, as well as straight 4.2litre V8.

Changing gear is pure joy, courtesy of a quick and silky smooth six-speed gearbox operated by two F1-style paddles on the steering column, or by simply clicking the rotary gear selector into drive. You also get various driving modes from standard to sport and a winter mode.

The rotary gear selector is one of many gems inside the XF that make the cabin one of the nicest places to travel in outside a Rolls-Royce.

When you push the pulsating red starter button, the selector rises out of the high centre console and at the same time the air vents on the dashboard rotate from closed into view in a striking piece of motoring theatre.

The cabin is a wonderfully rich blend of hand-stitched soft leather, wood and aluminium, but done in a very modern and contemporary way that adds a real sense of drama.

And the seats front and back are supremely comfortable to leave you feeling fresh after a 300-mile drive.

At night the Jaguar is lit like the intimate corner of a high-class nightclub with subdued moody phosphor-blue lighting.

A premium Bowers & Wilkins music system completes an interior package that will leave drivers and passengers among the most pampered on the road. For the practically minded, the boot is a class-leading 500litres.

The XF is the outstanding saloon car Jaguar fans have been waiting for, but more importantly it will lure buyers from other brands simply because its that good.

And with prices starting at £33,900 and going up to £54,900 for the 4.2litre supercharged, it’s keenly priced to make it a must test drive for any executive with a pulse.

But most of all the XF makes a statement of fact that Jaguar is back and once again producing some of the best cars in the world.

12-13-2007, 09:21 PM

12-14-2007, 02:11 PM
Damn, you beat me. I wanted to get the first one in. Motor Trend just did one too. They gushed like little girls at a Backstreet Boys concert (or whatever little girls gush at these days)

They loved it. This is just the begining of the XF's rise, smashing the competion, rightfully taking the highest honors in future comparisons.

12-14-2007, 10:21 PM
Autocar review.

Test date 14 December 2007 Price when new £54,900

Supercharged V8 is smooth, quiet, yet seriously powerful too
What is it?
It’s Jaguar’s new design hero – the S-type is dead, long live the XF. But does it drive like it looks?
The XF’s all-new shape has successfully jumped a couple of design generations to re-establish modernity as a core value at Jaguar for the first time since Sir William Lyons was in charge.
And the first question I had was answered before we left the car park: this car is as fine to behold in the real world as it was on the motor show stand. Better looking even. As our test car stood in the parking area of Jaguar’s Paradise Valley test base in Arizona, where we were provided with our first drive in the car, the delicacy of its graceful shape made the cars around it look coarse and ordinary.
The ante, then, had been upped before we’d even set out. Can the XF’s behind-the-wheel experience match its incredible fusion of beauty, grace and visual endeavour?
What’s it like?
"Drive", they said. So I did. In the 4.2-litre, 420bhp, supercharged V8 version of the Jaguar XF — called SV8 — with the 0-60 mph time of 5.1 seconds and governed top speed of 155 mph. It’s due on sale in March at the competitive starting price of £54,900, and orders are already building.
The length and confidence of the long lines that define its coupe-like body (the front and rear screen rake angles are almost identical to the XK coupe’s) make the car seem low, but it isn’t. You slip as easily behind the wheel as you do in any other modern car.
The driver’s bucket seat looks a little meagre and uninviting, but luckily it’s the only unprepossessing feature of the entire interior. In any case, it’s quite comfortable in a class-average sort of way. Cabin space turns out to be class average, too. I can sit comfortably behind a driver's seat set for myself, but it’s a snug fit for four full-sized adults.
Press the SV8’s starter button and two things happen. The engine fires and settles to a smoothly distant V8 beat, and the transmission’s rotary switch, until now flush with the console top, grows upward. Twist it to D, and the car creeps off the mark like any big-engined auto. If all you want is a smooth power delivery, that is all you need ever do.
But if you’re a keen driver, the SV8’s transmission offers plenty of options. One is to twist the transmission to “Drive-Sport”, which holds gears longer and provides better engine braking. Beyond that, you can start using the paddle-shifts manually. Work them at any time, either to hold gears, or just to hear the F1-style automated engine blip.
On top of that, the SV8 has a Dynamic Mode which reconfigures the transmission for quicker shifts and yet sportier use of the engine. The DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) is also altered to a special Track setting that allows you to play the hero by allowing a whiff of on-limit sliding in corners before intervening.
The mighty V8 is the car’s focal point, of course, providing copious amounts of smooth thrust almost in silence at low revs, but with a satisfying rumble when bigger demands are made.
Our test route was dogged by the threat of motorcycle cops, but it was still fun to soar along sinuous, smooth-surfaced canyon roads with the engine turning between 3500rpm and the 6250 redline, millimetre movements of the fingertips dictating which gear you’d use. This will prove, we believe, to be one of the XF’s defining features.
Handling? The supercharged XF feels just like an XK8, which is no wonder because it has the same suspension components, maybe re-rated for saloon duty, but just as good as the sports car.
It drives like a powerful and wide-tracked rear-drive car, with fundamentally neutral handling that graduates to a small amount of stabilising understeer in the fastest corners. The SV8 will tail-slide in a stable and predictable way under full power in 50-60 mph corners, but only on deliberate command. There’s a precision and a faithfulness about this car’s controls that belies its size and weight, and makes it feel as agile as a small car.
The steering, especially, is brilliant, weighted nicely with a delicious helping of feel just beside the straight-ahead. It flatters your judgement by cornering perfectly on the line you chose going in. Predictability can be an unflattering term, but applied to the XF it’s a synonym for precision.
So it handles, but what about the ride? Jaguar meant to build a sports saloon in the spirit of the Mk2, and has followed through. What is impressive is the way the car stays flat, how it absorbs ripples, how its primary ride preserves body control, and how it never allows ruts to get through to the occupants, despite its firmness.
Should I buy one?
On first acquaintance, the XF comes across as a remarkably good car. It comes in a well-priced, simple-to-understand echelon of models — four engines, three trim levels — with a luxurious entry spec and a deep inventory of gadgets to suit every taste.
Of course, the XF still has much to prove. It will meet a German rival for a bit of preliminary sparring in the 2 January issue of Autocar, and pretty soon we’ll drive it on home turf. Then we’ll really know if it’s a title contender.
What of the “drives like it looks” claim? On evidence so far gathered I’d offer a slogan of my own. Looks great, drives even better.
Steve Cropley

12-15-2007, 08:48 PM
UK CAR magazine just posted the review as well. This one has a short video.

12-15-2007, 09:50 PM
Sunday Times reivew with Jay Leno testing it.

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