Saloon – such an old-fashioned word, as applied to bars as to cars. It’s certainly too genteel to describe the Jaguar XF, especially the latest, top of the range 3.0 TDV6 RWD model, yours for £55,000.
Stealth would be more apt. From the outside, the XF can seem rather anonymous.
Driven slowly, this could pass for a ho-hummish family car, with its impressive petrol economy, capacious boot, safety features and excess legroom; although shorter and lower than the original XF of 2007, the XF is considerably roomier inside.
A Minimalistic Masterpiece
But inside and underneath is another story. Stripped back, de-cluttered, minimalistic – in the XF’s cocoon of black leather and trendily exposed carbon fibre, it’s more Batmobile.
There’s even a button on the roof console marked ‘SOS’. It’s covered by a protective flap, like those nuclear launch controls in the movies. There’s that blue ambient lighting too – for when action stations are called and everyone goes to DEFCON 4.
Certainly, like its predecessor, the new Jaguar XF won many a gong, not least Germany’s prestigious Golden Steering Wheel award – the kind of thing Saudi princes possibly have for real – and the Saloon of the Year as awarded by the troubled Top Gear.
Style Without Arrogance
You can see why they might like it – without being obviously beefy, it is, like the Jaguar brand, a vehicle that’s very blokey. It’s the kind of car that, like the Jaguar MkII of old, would be an excellent candidate for a new archetypal getaway car for TV villains planning an audacious bank job.
But if this obvious leaning towards the Boy’s Own sounds like a criticism, it’s not meant to be. If too many cars wear their prowess somewhat too openly – festooning the dashboard with buttons at the expense of clarity and, in a car, arguably safety – the XF hides its lights under the proverbial bushel, even if that bushel is made of some or other high tech material.
As any designer will tell you, knowing what to leave out is a harder lesson to learn than knowing what to put in. Even the side air vents want to hide, automatically closing – in a nice bit of in-car theatre – when the engine is switched off, leaving the fascia with lovely, seamless lines you only get to fully enjoy if going nowhere.
Jaguar XF s Reasonably Priced
The whole structure is stripped back, in fact, even on the more approachable £32,000 entry-level model.
Built with what Jaguar is calling an “aluminium-intensive” construction, some variants of the XR are 80kgs lighter than rival cars, which certainly helps with the fuel bill.
Electric power assisted steering also gives a two percent cut in fuel expenditure. OK, so that doesn’t sound much, but the fact that Jaguar even wants to mention it perhaps suggests just where this car’s emphasis lies: in considered engineering.
It’s hard to make that sexy. But pay attention to the details, and it surely is.
BEST BIT: You know that marketing tagline ‘affordable luxury’. This is it on four wheels.
WORST BIT: It’s a bit like that guy in sunglasses and the leather jacket – not as cool as it thinks it is.
HEAD TURNING QUOTIENT: It’s not a Lamborghini, put it that way. You may have the coolest car in the office car park, but you’re not going to draw a crowd.
DRIVING EXPERIENCE: Nippy on occasion, steady at other times, remarkably efficient all the time. ML