Jaguar pounces with the XF

JUNE 2010

A PRISTINE gun metal grey Mark I0 Jaguar once stalked the roadside near the Bonville workshop where its owner Bill Paulger repaired and built diesel pumps and engineered all things made of metal.

As kids we would clamber inside and marvel at the shine of the wood grain dash, legs burning on the leather seats that had baked in the midday weekend sun. That strong scented cow hide epitomised an early association with motoring opulence.

In fact up until recently it had been my clearest association with the British car manufacturer. Whenever anyone mentioned Jaguar, the scent of the Mark 10 would motor back into the frontal lobe and bring with it a sentimental flush of nostalgia.

That memory has now been tainted by a new experience. The cause of this newfound affiliation? The prowling XF V8 Jaguar. Combining the two desirables in automotive technology – luxury and power, the XF is an ambivalent brute.

Aerodynamic with slick curves, the car was designed by former Aston Martin guru Ian Callum – the man responsible for the Aston Martin Vanquish, the V12-powered DB7 Vantage and Aston Martin’s Project Vantage concept car. He can also lay claim for a wide range of design programs including Volvo, Mazda and HSV.

Replacing the less desirable S Type, the XF burst onto the scene with plenty of fanfare – most of which it lives up to.

Equipped with a bootable 283 kW and a top speed of 250 km/h, the power is delivered to ground via a smooth 6-speed automatic. Switch to sports mode and changes are a synch with steering wheel paddles to shift through the gears. Power and grace mesh to create a motor car that both evokes curiosity and commands respect.

According to those affable Pommy petrol heads at Top Gear, the XF is a superb sedan which incorporates all the grace and warmth that Jaguar talks about but hasn’t always delivered. Not as fast as a BMW, but better in many ways.

Forget the 3.0 V6 petrol – it doesn’t suit the car. There’s a normally-aspirated 4.2-litre V8 that’s got 219kW, gets the XF to 100km/h in 6.2 seconds and on to 250km/h and that’s lovely.

The supercharged version, offering 306kW and 100km/h in 5.1 seconds is probably overkill. The best engine is the diesel: 0-100km/h in 7.7 seconds, 230km/h top end and 152kW.

James Riswick, the automotive editor at Edmund, shoots from the hip.

“For 30 some odd years, Jags have seemingly been designed to cater to what people think a Jag should be: Specifically, some quaint motor car that, inside and out, looks exactly like a car that came before it.

“They were built for the people who think of England as a nation filled with cardigan-wearing grannies sipping tea in their Nottingham cottage while spinning yarns about the war. The 2009 Jaguar XF Supercharged tells those people to bugger off. “

While it may lack the old school scent of the Mark 10, the XF has been designed to ignite a new market. It has altered how people think about Jaguar and that can
only better position the brand for the future. The V8 will set you back around $167,000.

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