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Jaguar takes the Australian market very seriously, and not just because our country is a former British colony. Australia is one of the most complex and hardest-fought automotive arenas in the world. So what works here can often be transferred to many other areas of the world.
As an example of Jaguar's thinking, a reveal of the yet-to-be-launched Jaguar XF was carried out in Sydney only weeks after the world launch at the Frankfurt Motor Show last year. And chief designer Ian Callum flew to Australia for the occasion to talk over his newly hatched baby.
Callum has managed the difficult task of designing a car that looks ultra-modern, yet which still carries cues to the fact that it’s very much a Jaguar. With all that means in the way of a big radiator grille, round headlights that are faired into the bonnet, swooping lines and a rear end that looks for all the world like a big cat crouching ready to leap. The car is aimed at the sports saloon buyer so has a coupe-like roofline sloping down to the rear.
Then there's an interior that’s bang up to date. No it’s not just up to date, it’s a long way ahead of its time, with many instances of clever lateral thinking that seem sure to be copied by others in years to come.
Step into the car and you will see an elegantly simple dashboard that appears to have no ventilation outlets whatsoever. Nor is there a slot for an ignition key. Look down at the centre console and there's no sign of a gear selector or handbrake.
Then you push the stop/start button, which has sensed you have the key close by, there's no need to put it into a slot, and it all unveils before your startled eyes. Smooth blanking panels on the dash swivel around to reveal ventilation slots and a round knob rises from the centre console. The latter is a gear selector unlike anything you have ever seen before. More like a computer mouse than a gear lever, it can be turned to select the correct gears. There is a handbrake, but it’s a tiny lever in the console that’s not immediately obvious.
Just as fascinating is what happens when you push the start/stop button to turn off the engine. The dash vents revolve in the opposite direction to hide themselves, the gear selector sinks silently back into the console. And as the selector pulls itself down it automatically selects Park, and the car puts on the handbrake.
It could be called gimmickry, but it all works beautifully, and we reiterate that this may well be the way of the future in car interior design.
However, if you turn off the air conditioning, which is a popular option in the clear, cool air of our home area on the Gold Coast at this time of the year, the ventilation slots automatically put themselves away. The only way to override this and have non-conditioned air coming into the car is to have them permanently open. Which doesn’t make sense to us.
Other than these interesting new design features the interior of the XF is relatively conservative, reflecting early 21st century design themes in a neat mixture of the old and the new, and being very Jaguar in its use of quality leather and timber.
Interior room is OK for four adults but those in the rear may find themselves a little short of kneeroom if the front occupants need their seats a fair way back. Keep in mind that Jaguars have traditionally been low, sporting saloons and this is a continuation of that tradition.
Jaguar XF comes with a full range of engines; 3.0-litre petrol V6, 4.2-litre petrol V8, 4.2-litre petrol V8 with supercharger, and 2.7-litre turbo-diesel.
Our test car came with the brilliant six-cylinder twin-turbo diesel. So good is this engine that we defy passengers to pick it as being a diesel and not a petrol from inside the car. It’s smooth, quiet and oh-so refined. Only from the outside is there a hint that this is a compression-ignition engine.
This diesel uses so little fuel it’s almost scary. We had no trouble at getting the consumption under six litres per hundred kilometres in sensible motorway cruising at around 110 to 120 km/h. When driving around town this rose to a still low eight to ten litres per hundred and only an attack of the revheads will see it much over 11 litres per hundred kilometres.
We doubt whether a tiny Morris Minor sedan could be driven as economically as that in its heyday 50 years ago… and the big Jag has considerably more space, grace, pace, safety and sheer exhilaration of performance than that once-favourite British ‘economy’ car.
Handling of the Jaguar XF is biased to the comfort side, as suits its main market of the USA, but it still hangs onto the road with plenty of determination if you put a bit of Aussie verve into your motoring. Similarly, the steering is lighter than we like, but does provide a decent amount of feedback.
Cruise quietly at high speed and this big Jaguar is right in its element and a sheer delight to drive, or simply to sit, cossetted, in one of the passenger seats.
XF 2.7D Luxury 2.7-litre turbo-diesel four-door sedan: $108,350
XF 3.0 V6 Luxury 3.0-litre petrol four-door sedan: $108,350
XF 4.2 V8 Premier Luxury 4.2-litre petrol four-door sedan: $134,830
XF SV8 4.2-litre supercharged petrol four-door sedan: $173,170
Priced from $108,350 the Jaguar XF provides excellent value in this elevated market segment and those keen to get away from the predictability of buying an upmarket German car should certainly have this stylish Brit sitting high on their short list.
|2.7D Luxury||2.7L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$13,489 – 19,999||2008 Jaguar XF 2008 2.7D Luxury Pricing and Specs|
|3.0 V6 Luxury||3.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$16,830 – 21,560||2008 Jaguar XF 2008 3.0 V6 Luxury Pricing and Specs|
|4.2 SV8 Supercharged||4.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$34,950 – 38,990||2008 Jaguar XF 2008 4.2 SV8 Supercharged Pricing and Specs|
|4.2 V8 Luxury||4.2L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$21,230 – 26,840||2008 Jaguar XF 2008 4.2 V8 Luxury Pricing and Specs|