When I was a child I loved Jaguars. There was something quite beautiful about the curved lines and the super long bonnet of models like the Mark II (driven by Inspector Morse) and of course the E-Type. In the early 1970s, a businessman friend of my Dad’s once took me out in his sleek silver E-Type around the Black Country where everyone it seemed drove a Ford Escort. I was hooked. It seemed so, so glamorous in comparison with other cars from the era.
Later in the 1980s it was the white Jaguar XJS, driven by The Saint, Simon Templar, with the personalised registration plate ST1. What could be any more glamorous (apart from James Bond in his Aston Martin DB7 I guess). But after that it seemed that Jaguar and I parted company, my head turned by up and coming German models which may not have been so beautiful but lured me in with the promise of both power and ruthless efficiency.
Of course a lot has changed in the last 30 years as I found out when attending the launch of a new range of Jaguars at the the Olde Bell Inn in Hurley, near Maidenhead. Design-wise there are still echoes of older models, particularly with the shape of the front grille, but apart from that the current models seem virtually unrecognisable from their forbears. Nevertheless there is definitely still some cachet around the brand, particularly in the US where ‘Jag-wahs’ as they pronounce are luxury items up there with Rolex watches and Range Rovers (also part of the same stable as Jaguar).
Nor is it just the outside of the cars that’s changed. In the past, the biggest interior design consideration seemed to be where to put the ashtray. These days high-end vehicles are stuffed to the gills with technology more akin to an aircraft cockpit (perhaps fittingly the original designer of the E-Type Malcolm Sayer began his career as an aircraft designer). And the all new Jaguar XF S, which I got to drive around The Cotswolds for a few hours, is certainly no exception.
As with all executive cars these days having a large screen in the middle of the dashboard seems compulsory. In the new XF it’s a bright 8 inch touch screen called the InControl Touch Pro. Unlike other high end cars we’ve looked at recently (including the new Audi A4) all of the functionality has been built into the display, rather than relying on buttons either side of the screen. I think this makes it much easier to use especially for passengers. There are also additional non-touch screens in the back to entertain the kids plus a high end Meridian Sound System, complete with 17 speakers and offering 825 Watts of power (sound is extremely good as well as powerful!)
Like a smartphone, the home screen of the touch screen display can be customised with your own wallpaper and widgets set to provide shortcuts to your favourite features, much like apps on your phone’s screen. Included as standard is in-car navigation, plus touch screen options for other functions such as the music you are playing and the smartphone you’ve paired with the car (Bluetooth is of course included as standard).
In addition to the touch screen panel there’s also the option of a £1200 laser head-up display so you can view your speed, gear shift indication and navigation instructions which are projected directly in front of your eyes. This means you don’t have to look down and take your eyes off the road to take in all the important information needed when driving.
As with most cars these days, there’s no shortage of inputs including an Aux input and single USB socket for hooking up a smart phone. There is also a whole host of safety features (lane departure warning, pedestrian contact sensing and autonomous emergency braking) designed to help prevent accidents. Ironically I tend to switch most of these off when I get in a car because I find them extremely distracting and more likely to cause accidents.
More useful, though quite expensive, is the £1600 advanced parking assist. Using an array of cameras around the vehicle in conjunction with the large centre panel display you can see the space you are reversing into complete with red lines indicating the width of the vehicle you are reversing .
You can see our gallery of the Jaguar XF S below. Open the thumbnail to view full size
However for me the most exciting feature is the built in massage facility which really does give your back a good pummeling – certainly beats those old fashioned beads you used to get for the back of your seat. Another great optional extra is Cabin Pre-heat which comes with a timer and remote and will heat your car and de-ice the windscreens for you at the desired time using a little fuel fired heater (the engine doesn’t need to be on so there isn’t any security risk).
It’s a lovely optional extra feature, but will set you back nearly £1000 so is really probably only worth investing in if you live somewhere very cold and remote and have to make a lot of early starts in the winter.
For my test drive I took out a sporty 3 litre Jaguar XF 3.0 V6 in Italian Racing Red (a very similar white model is pictured above). In terms of looks, it’s everything you expect an executive car to be like. There are maybe some echoes of the past in the grille design, but if I’m being honest it’s virtually unrecognisable from the classic Jaguars of the 1960s and 1970s. There’s also little to distinguish this model from other executive cars. If it wasn’t for the Jaguar marque you might well think it’s an Audi, but that’s maybe no bad thing these days.
Price wise the XF starts at a fairly reasonable £32,300. However the Jaguar XF S that I drove had a base price of £49,945 and with all the optional extras on board (including head up display, cabin pre-heat, adaptive LED headlamps) it’s a hefty £60,805.00. Certainly not cheap. Inside the Jag the leather interior feels very luxurious and exceedingly comfortable. Nor is it just the driver who is comfortable. Jaguar claims the row-two occupants have gained 15mm more legroom, 24mm more kneeroom and 27mm more headroom too.
But what was it like to drive I hear you ask? Well not bad. Driving around the edge of the Cotswolds along winding country roads in wet and muddy conditions and on the M40 Motorway, the Jaguar handled very well. An eight speed automatic, it certainly doesn’t lack in power either, reaching 0-60 in a little over 5 seconds and with a top speed of 155 miles per hour – not as if I got anywhere near that speed of course. But somehow it didn’t excite me. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the XF – as executive cars go it does its job very well. It’s just that I felt myself longing to drive something a little more challenging like an old E-Type. Sadly I think those days are long gone.
Technical information: XF3.0 V6
Engine: 3.0 litre V6 S/C
Engine capacity: 2995cc
Cylinders/valves per cylinders: 6/24
Maximum power – EEC PS (kW): 380 (280)
Maximum torque – EEC Nm: 450
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Acceleration 0-60mph: 5.1 seconds
Maximum speed: 155 miles per hour
Urban MPG: 44.8
Combined MPG: 34.0
Carbon Dioxide emissions – g/km: 198
You can see our YouTube video on the Jaguar XF’s touch screen features below: