Cool cat shows its claws
Grange Brentwood offers Adrian Foster a preview of the exciting new Jaguar XF luxury saloon
WHAT may turn out to be the most important Jaguar model ever, the new XF luxury saloon, goes on sale this month with the aim of taking the British marque in a new design direction and attracting new customers to its showrooms. Despite the dramatic lines, unconventional thrust-forward radiator intake and sleek coupé profile, the new XF incorporates Jaguar's traditional values of performance, luxury and style alongside 21st century aesthetics and technology, including ultra-rapid Formula 1-style paddle-shift gear changing. The replacement for the S-Type, this is certainly not another 'retro-Jaguar', although there is something of the original XJ6 in its big radiator grille and the undulations of its bonnet which still linger as tentative links to the past. What has changed, and beyond all recognition, is the car's appearance - the XF is modern to the point of being avant-garde. So sleek is its shape that front and rear screens have exactly the same angle of rake as those on the XK, leading to four-door coupé styling similar in concept, if not execution, to that of the Aston Martin DB9. From the front wheels backwards, it all works beautifully. The four-door XF has the visual excitement of a coupé but has sufficient room inside for five adults to enjoy an interior wholly contemporary in style yet uniquely Jaguar. As well as space, the XF's interior ambience is enriched by crafted, luxurious materials, sophisticated instruments and calm interior mood lighting. Luxury comes as standard on the XF. Front seats are electrically adjustable, with a minimum of eight-way seat adjustment for the driver and front passenger. The new XF also introduces the option of active heated and cooled ventilated front seats. Four power units are offered from launch: a 2.7-litre, 210bhp turbodiesel V6, a 3.0-litre 240bhp petrol V6, a 4.2-litre, 300bhp petrol V8 and a 4.2-litre, 420bhp supercharged V8. There are no surprises under the bonnet of either the normally aspirated or supercharged V8 XFs. The less powerful engine produces the same power as it does in the XK, which Jaguar says will push it to 60mph in 6.2sec. The engine with forced induction has 416bhp and a 0-60mph time of 5.1sec.