The new XF puts a tiger in my tank
PERHAPS this week’s cover story has left you, the South African motorist, more than just a little despondent. I feel your pain. I’ve just given back to its real owners the Jaguar XF 4.2l V8 Supercharged. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but I know now that my regular ride won’t fetch enough on trade-in to cover the 20-inch low profiles on the XF.
The 58 of you who bought an XF in June can stop reading now, get back in your cars, take a sniff of that new car smell, dock your MP3-player and be on your merry, merry way. (Jealousy makes you nasty.) As I write this I don’t know how many lucky bastards picked one up in July, but it could be above 60. Word gets around.
When I review a vehicle, I usually begin with what I call from-the-mouth-of-babestest. Approach a babe with zero knowledge and even less interest in cars and ask her opinion. For some reason, and I really
should further investigate what’s behind this (I’m certain it could help me in other departments), women can pick out a Jaguar in a parking lot even if they usually mistake an Alfa for an A-Class.
The XF’s styling has little in common with previous generation Jags – and all the better for it. But the instant recognition and attraction also applies to the new cat from Coventry. (Tata may own the marque now, but Rattan and family wisely kept design and production in Britain.) Is there too much oestrogen in the water in old Blighty? Do they know something that Freud could never figure out? Is it a cat lover versus a dog lover thing?
Being called Jaguar isn’t enough; I’ve not heard of anyone lusting after a Ford Puma, and Poland’s Leopard company makes god-awful looking cars (they look a bit like the old Jags in fact, the still beautiful E-Type excluded, of course). Tiger Wheel & Tyre? There’s nothing sexy about getting your wheels aligned. But then again a Pirelli calendar gets my rubber burning.
Maybe it’s decades of subtle advertising. The online brochure (www.jaguar. co.za) has a nifty search function. When you click on the search button it suggests you search for “+woman +shirt”. I did that and no results were returned. Good suggestion, though. Next time I’m in an XF I’ll try to find “+woman -shirt”.
The designer of the first of Jag’s new generation cars – the XK, with which the XF shares many styling cues – said he was thinking of the actress Kate Winslet, his ideal woman, while designing the coupe. The inspiration for the XF hasn’t been revealed, but whoever it was, she’d go so well with the buttery leather upholstery, the hard, almost purple wood … ( OK. Enough, Els. How about something about the car itself? – Ed.)
The Jaguar XF SV8 retails for R783 850. For that dosh you get mechanically driven supercharging delivering 306KW of power and up to 560Nm of torque. However, the manufacturers have managed to tame all that grunt and growl, and acceleration is surprisingly smooth, almost linear, even in sport mode. The ride is supple, without ever being too soft, and the handling superb. The interior is the best in its class. If the car’s Teutonic rival’s cabins sometimes look as if they could’ve been designed by dungeon master Josef Fritzl, the Jag’s more Philippe Starck.
The local radio advert for Jaguar takes a sideswipe at its German competitors in its segment. There’s something in the ad about them having to take more sleeping tablets since April. I’d think those diamond-shaped blue pills are what’s really needed.