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Jaguar XF V6 and V8 2008 review

The XF appeals to a younger age group outside the established Jaguar faithfuls.

Excitement around the recent launch of the sporty XK range was palpable. With the new XF saloon it has notched up to sweaty-palms, hand-wringingly tense level.

With XK it was pretty much a case of preaching to the converted.

The car, as beautiful and competent as it is, appeals to the established Jaguar faithful.

The XF is a whole new ball game. This is the car that has to bring fresh blood to the marque; the car that must redress an ageing owner base carried over from an earlier era.

“A group of customers fell in love with us in the 1960s and '70s and they are very loyal customers,” Jaguar Australia general manager Dorian Lapthorne said at the XF launch last week. “However, new customers didn't fall in love with us.

“Our current customer base has an average age of 57 — about 10 to 15 years older than the likes of BMW, Audi or Lexus, or just about anybody else. That wouldn't be a problem in itself, if every time somebody turned 57 they thought; 'I'm old enough now to buy a Jaguar'.”

That, according to Lapthorne, isn't happening and Jaguar's ageing owner base keeps on ageing.

Enter XF and, according to Lapthorne, there's already strong evidence that the tide is turning.

“With first deliveries due on June 1 we've already sold 60 per cent of our allocation (400 cars) for this year ... and the good news is that 77 per cent of XF customers don't currently own a Jaguar,” he said.

“That's good news for us. And the median age we're seeing is not 57, it's 44 — more than 10 years younger than the overall brand.”

Jaguar is also making no excuses for presenting the XF as a premium product. There's no “entry level” model to take the fight to BMW or Mercedes-Benz.

Jaguar describes the car as a premium niche product and those who want it will pay the premium.

The 3.0-litre V6 and the bi-turbo 2.7-litre V6 diesel offer a twin entry point at $105,500 with the 4.2-litre V8 at $130,500. The current hero model, the SV8 4.2-litre supercharged, is $166,700 but look to that to be supplanted as the apex model by a XF-R version of the car within the next 12 months.

“There's no 2.5-litre XF; there is no sub-$100,000 XF — because that doesn't fit the profile of building beautiful fast cars,” Lapthorne said.

“Does that mean we don't compete head-on with the Germans? Yes, it does.

“We don't have an $80,000 car to compete with the (entry-level) 5 Series or the A6. We are a premium niche business.”

The biggest thing in favour of the XF is the XF. While the external styling may be a little challenging for some tastes — the front is unapologetically aggressive, with a grille harking back to the gaping square gap that fronted the XJ Series 1 and the rear is a classic; Ian Callum (director of styling) power play with cues to the designer's gorgeous Aston Martin and XK styling.

The coupe-like lines of the XF are accentuated by the matching rake angles of the windscreen and rear glass.

However, it's inside the car that the XF takes Jaguar to an entirely new level. In its own British men's club way, the marque has always used wood and leather to distinction.

It still uses fine wood and plush leather but in a more modern fashion.

It would be a little unfair to call the interiors Scandinavian, yet the subtle use of metal, sweeping lines and blue phosphor lighting could make you think they were.

There are some really nice design touches that, while unlikely to shake the world of car interiors, gives the XF points of difference and a new warmth.

The gear shifter is now an integrated dial, which rises out of the centre console to fit comfortably in your hand when the car is started by a push on the pulsing start button.

At the same time the air vents reveal themselves in the fascia by swinging open.

Interior lighting is controlled by touch-sensitive coverings and the glovebox opens only to the direct touch on an embedded brass rondel — little practical purpose but cute as a button.

The design target for the cabin was to emphasise sporting character.

The dash has been lowered to improve the horizon vision and the glasshouse sits high enough to push the line that the driver sits in, rather than on, the seats.

On the road, it's a lesson in how varied a character can be drawn from a basic chassis by variation in engine and gearbox.

There were no supercharged cars available for the launch drive, due by the on-sale date of June 1, but the differences between the petrol pair and the diesel were significant.

The 3.0-litre V6 (175kW and 293Nm), coupled to the six-speed ZF shared by all models, is a pleasant enough experience but begs the question as to why some 50 per cent of forward orders are for this car.

There's nothing wrong with the combination per se but, for the same price and with the same high specification level, the diesel, with 152kW and a thumping 435Nm, makes so much more sense.

It's marginally quicker — 8.2 seconds 0-100km/h against 8.3 — considerably more fuel-efficient and a less stressful drive with bags of torque available from just over 1000rpm.

It's also every bit as quiet and refined as the petrol V6.

The V8 is a proven engine doing service in both the XJ and the XK.

The 219kW and 411Nm unit means there's adequate urge under the right foot but it's not as happy a marriage with the gearbox as the diesel.

Obviously tuned for launch feel, first and second gears are eaten up in a huge rush but there's too large a step up to third gear to make punching through varied speed corners a comfortable experience.

Pricing Guides

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Range and Specs

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
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Lowest price, based on 13 car listings in the last 6 months

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