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Editor/Photographer : Mark Charles

 

December 14 2007

XF - First impressions

The adoration bestowed on Fiat's new 500 proves that retro design can work, but it hasn't done any favours for Jaguar in recent years as the sales figures will testify. But expect that to change because the XF appears to have more in common with the XK coupe than the S-Type. Out goes the retro styling, in comes a very modern take on a Jaguar saloon from Ian Callum, the man behind the Jaguar XK and Aston DB7. But the Jaguar cues are still there. There are echoes of the original 1968 XJ in the grille and of the current XK around the headlights.

In fact it does share its suspension and paddle-shift operated automatic gearbox with the XK and the more powerful versions share engines too. There are three trim levels available: Luxury, Premium Luxury and SV8 and as before there's a choice of petrol and diesel engines. Prices stretch from £33,900 to £54,900 making the XF more expensive than the S-Type but it is far better equipped. As with the S-Type, only one body style is available: a four-door saloon. Although estate versions of BMW's 5-Series and Mercedes' E-Class are popular in Europe they don't sell well in the US where most XFs are bound.

Performance
The are three petrol engines to choose from: a 3.0 V6 with 235bhp, a 4.2 V8 with 294bhp and a supercharged version of that V8 developing 410bhp which used to power the old S-Type R but now simply carries an SV8 badge. That's because when an XF-R does appear it will be packing more like 500bhp to match AMG and BMW M rivals. The S-Type's meek 2.5 V6 doesn't appear, neither does a manual gearbox; take-up of both was small and Jaguar wants to push the XF further upmarket. So the six-speed automatic becomes the only transmission, driving to the rear wheels only, as before.

Unfortunately Jaguar chose not to bring either the 3.0 petrol or 2.7D to the launch in Arizona. Unfortunate because while they might not be relevant in the US, they're likely to form 95% of UK sales. Of the two V8s, the supercharged car is massively quickly as you would expect, powering to 62mph in 5.4sec, compared with 6.2sec for the naturally aspirated model. It also has that distinctive supercharger whine that you either love or hate although neither car sounds as meaty as a BMW 550i. And such is the powertrain's refinement, even the SV8 often doesn't feel as fast as it really is.

Ride and handling
Whatever you thought of the S-Type's retro-styling there was nothing wrong with the way it drove. So it comes as little surprise to discover the XF is just as accomplished. Both V8 and SV8 treat occupants to that traditional Jaguar sensation of floating along the road's surface, the V8 on its smaller wheels actually smoother. But crank up the pace and the XF adapts, offering responsive, well weighted steering and fine body control that on the SV8 can be tightened further by pressing the CATS button that controls the adaptive damping. Even with 298bhp the V8 has more grip than power but the SV8 can be persuaded to slide with the DSC off.

Interior
If the exterior design has transformed your expectations of how a Jaguar should look, just have a peek inside. Forget your wooded dashboard nightmares, this is a thoroughly contemporary cabin with smart metal finishes, aggressively swept back A-pillars and cool blue lighting. Step into the car and the red starter button begins to pulse; press it and the covers folding the climate control vents retract into the dash and the cylindrical gear selector rises from the transmission tunnel into your hand. There are paddles on the wheel this time too, giving you proper manual control of the gearbox.

Leather is standard on UK cars, as is DVD-based full-screen navigation that, like the XK's, is accessed by a touch screen that also houses the controls for the hi-fi and air conditioning system. That might sound impressive and declutters the cabin but it can be fiddly to use. Perhaps Jaguar is hoping that with all this free you won't notice the modest rear seat space. One area where the S-Type fell down was cabin room and while the XF's wheelbase is identical, there's now more headroom and legroom, the latter helped by thinner but still comfortable front seats. The boot is significantly bigger too and now holds 540 litres, a 140-litre improvement.

Economy and safety
If fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are a concern there's only one engine in the running, the 2.7D. Capable of 37.6mpg, it's also the only model whose emissions sneak below 199g/km. But don't expect to get more than 22mpg from the SV8 even on a motorway journey and the 299g/km emissions will cripple company car drivers. The XF hasn't yet been subjected to an NCAP test but it will likely score five stars. Electronic stability control and brake assist are standard and adaptive cruise control is available, while a pop up bonnet makes it more pedestrian friendly than rivals.

The MSN Cars verdict: 5/5
The old S-Type was a great BMW rival scuppered by styling that repelled younger buyers attracted to Audi and BMW. With both failings addressed and packaging improved, its replacement can't possibly fail. The XF breathes life into the executive saloon market and also Jaguar at a crucial time for the company. Modern yet restrained styling, a superb cabin and a driving experience that satisfies those who want to be cosseted as much as those looking for B-road fun, it's a genuine triumph. All it needs is a more powerful diesel engine, and that's on the way.

Ratings out of five: Jaguar XF
Performance ****
Ride & handling *****
Interior *****
Safety ****
Price ****
Practicality ****
Fuel economy ***
MSN Cars verdict *****

Need to know
Petrol engines 3.0, 4.2, 4.2 supercharged
Diesel engines 2.7
Power (bhp) 204 - 410
Torque (lb/ft) 216 - 413
0-62 (secs) 8.3 - 5.4
Top speed (mph) 143 - 155
Combined mpg 22.4 - 37.6
CO2/tax

Headlines

XF - First impressions

Jaguar reveals the new generation X-type

Jaguar/Land Rover bidders need more time

Spied: Jaguar XF-R

'Jaguar' badge for the chop - designer

Revealed - The all-new 2009 Jaguar XF

O’Driscoll replaces Boerio as Jaguar MD

Jaguar collects customer service plaudits

Jaguar take sthe number one position in the 2007 J.D. Power study

Ford readies Jaguar and Ford for sale

Roger Putnam receives CBE

2007 Jaguar XK wins Autonerve magazine "Best Convertible" award

Jaguar X-typenamed top aspirational luxury car

Jaguar XKR convertible tops 2007 best road trip car list

Jaguar XJ named one of the safest cars

Robert Motors celebrates 25 years of success

The all-new Jaguar C-XF

The all-new Jaguar C-XF revealed

2006 Headlines

S type revised

Top Gear crowns Jaguar XK 'Car of the year 2006

Jaguar cars announces the new Jaguar XF

Jaguar Canada announces all-new-2007 XKR coupe and convertible pricing and option packges

Jaguar USA announces 2007 XKR coupe and convertible pricing and option packages

Jaguar supports home show with global debut of supercharged XKR

Jaguar announces its new advanced vehicle entertainment technology

Callum brothers win 2006 Jim Clark memorial award

Jaguar XJ voted best large executive car at the Auto Express Used Car Honours 2006

Jaguar Land Rover North America announces new vice president of customer service

Jaguar sells off Browns Lane site

AAA names the Jaguar XJ8L as top car pick for 2006

Ford says of Jaguar - safe in our hands

The new Jaguar XK winner of "What Car?" award

Jaguar announces all-new 2007 XK coupe and convertible pricing

2005 Headlines

Jaguar reveals all-new XK convertible

All-new Jaguar XK premieres world-first deployable bonnet system

All-new Jaguar XK is unveiled atFrankfurt show

Jaguar unveils all-new XK sports car

Jaguar announces new vice president

Tne new XJ 2.7 diesel and 2006MY XJ range

Jaguar brings tpgether emerging artists

Daimler returns with an all-new model, the Super Eight.

Geoff Polites is appointed CEO of Jaguar

June sales

New XJ 2.7 Diesel and 2006MY XJ range

Jaguar announces mobility program

Jaguar XJ wins best luxury car in the 2005 fleet world honours

Jaguar cars for Jaguar cats

April Newsletter

Ford's newest atShanghai

Jaguar revises prices for 2005 S-type and XJ models

Jaguar appoints new global Advertising Agency

February newsletter

Jaguar XJ6 wins award

Jaguar X-type diesel even more tax efficient

Tim Watson appointed new communications chief

Jaguar's best ever year in Europe

Jaguar advanced lightweight coupe makes world debut

Limited edition Jaguar XK 'VICTORY'

Jaguar Canada sales reports

2004 Headlines

More job losses likely say unions

Bonspeed X type at SEMA, Las Vegas

Jaguar scoopsScottish luxury and diesel categoryawards

Japanese Grand Prix - Preview

Jaguar Canada reports September sales

Chinese Grand Prix – Race

Chinese Grand Prix – Saturday Qualifying

Chinese Grand Prix – Friday Practice Sessions

Jaguar workers stalk Ford in Paris

Jaguar workers back call for industrial action ballot

Jaguar to drop British Racing Green

Jaguar leaps forwardin 2004 in
J.D. Power study

Jaguar North America expands conservation trust

Jaguar question to be put to Commons

Jaguar production to end at Browns Lane

Jaguar cuts production due to poor US sales

Belgian Grand Prix - Race

Belgian Grand Prix - Qualifying

Belgian Grand Prix - Practice

Belgian Grand Prix - preview

Jaguar factory capacity cut announcement "weeks away"

Jaguar fears on factory closure

Jaguar North America dedicates its archives

Job cuts "unlikely" at Jaguar

Jaguar team to be come Ford?

Jaguar exhibits the iconic E-type at the design museum

Plans to cut Jaguar production

Jaguar "People Solutions" in the frame for prestigious award

European Grand Prix - Qualifying

European Grand Prix - Practice

European Grand Prix - Preview

Jaguar at design festival

Steinmetz& Jaguar Racing

Monaco Grand Prix - race

Monaco Grand Prix - qualifying

Monaco Grand Prix - practice

Monaco Grand Prix - preview

‘The movies’ meets Jaguar

Jaguars invade Normandy

Spanish Grand Prix - race

Spanish Grand Prix - qualifying

Spanish Grand Prix - practice

Spanish Grand Prix - preview

Jaguar U.S.announce executive appoinments

April 2004 U.S. sales

2003 Headlines

"Browns Lane plant to close" rumour

Jaguar select edition captures award

Jaguar racing engine makes successful debut

Japan Grand Prix

X-type estate makes its debut at Frankfurt

Jaguar R-D6 concept unveiled at Frankfurt

Hungarian Grand Prix

The New Jaguar X-Type Estate

Jaguar opens new test centre at the Nürburgring

TWR history goes under the hammer

French Grand Prix - Saturday Qualifying

The new X-type 2.0D.

Canadian grand prix - preview

Jaguar to premiere new V6 diesel engine

New Jaguar sports car sets the pace

Jaguar boss announces retirement

Lap record eases heat on Jaguar

TWR is placed in receivership

Canadian debut of the 2004 XJ sedan

Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust at Techno Classica Essen

XKSS sells for $1.1 million

Jaguar to temporarily suspend X-type production

New XJ prices released

Jaguar R4 unveiled

F1 car launch

2002 Headlines

XKSS for sale at auction

Driver change at F1 team

Indianapolis X type

Jaguar from latest Bond film at British Motor Show

New XJ released

Revised XK released

Jaguars at Monterey

Changes in management line-up

F type on hold

New XJ8 for 2003

Morse Mark 2 sells at auction

Jaguar announces expanded 2002 Trans-Am Series Contingency Award Program

Jaguar Heritage on display at Techno Classica Essen

400 bhp S type R launched

Jaguar Racing unveiled its 2002 challenger, the Jaguar R3

2001 Headlines

XJ13 not for sale

Bike ace signs for Jaguar

New 2 litre X type

Jaguar Racing and ChevronTexaco to end their technical relationship

Frank Sinatra's XJ40 sold at auction

New MD for Jaguar Racing

Changes at the top

Jaguar presents the R Coupe concept

Two new special editions

New organization for North America

New XJ6 test vehicle

F-TYPE roadster production to go-ahead

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