2009 Jaguar XF Review; Tata; Opinions - Letter From Europe
2009 Jaguar XF Review
by Andrew Frankl
European Bureau Chief
No, I am not bragging but I was the only person, and that includes the people from Jaguar, who have had a chance to meet with Ratan Tata, the new Jaguar boss. The new boss? Yes, in case you’ve been in space shuttle for the past few weeks the revered British car maker is now part of the Indian industrial giant Tata.
It was at the Geneva show back in 2007 that we had a chat which we followed up with another one this year.
We had a chance to test Jaguar’s latest offering in Southern California and were not disappointed. The two cars, one normally aspirated and the other supercharged V8s both provide more than adequate power for all bar those insisting on a V12 Lamborghini or the 599 Ferrari.
In fact I think most people will find the normally aspirated and somewhat less expensive just fine. We did. With 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft torque the Jag gets from 0-60 in 6.2 seconds and yes, we did see the electronically limited top speed of 121 miles per hour. And no, I am not telling you where! There was of course more wind noise at over 100 miles per hour but we were too busy having a good time.
The 420hp version with the supercharger does fly (0-60 in 5.1 seconds) and knowing Chief Engineer Mike Cross I am sure there is an even quicker “R” version in the wings. Mike is probably the World’s best engineer when it comes to dynamic qualities and it comes from being an exceptional driver as well as being an engineer. As Jackie Stewart mentioned in his most recent-and excellent-book, some of Ford’s engineers may have been good behind the computers but were absolutely useless on a race track. If you’ve never been on the limit how you do design it into a car? You don’t and Ford’s current demise in America is proof of it.
The interior is different and very exciting, especially if you are young or young at heart. If you are in your 50s or 60s you may find some of the stuff somewhat intimidating just as you would with BMW’s dreaded iDrive. For the young, rich kids at Google and Yahoo the Jaguar XF will be a piece of cake.
There are some truly beautiful touches in this Jag. One that impressed me very much was the twin-stitched dashboard top pad. It was straight out of Maranello, home of Ferrari. This might seem like a detail but a terrific one at that especially if you’ve been lucky enough to have driven supercars.
The much heralded rising JaguarDrive selector is a clever gizmo, it rises once you press the start button. As in all modern cars there is no key as such. Once the gizmo is up you simply turn it from P to R and so on. Once in D you can use the pedal shifts just like in a Maserati. On the back roads near Julian, the apple pie capital of America we had huge fun using all the gears.
Well, as far as the car is concerned none from the dynamic point of view. Looks , as I’ve mentioned are a personal thing, the three quarter rear is visually the best part of the car for me The interior will need more time for an oldie like me to figure it out completely but the main thing is I could drive the XF without understanding all of it.
The proximity sound drove us insane; it was about as subtle as Rambo. Needs urgent attention. Far too unpleasant and is not modulated properly.
What is more relevant however is the lack of diesel. I am fully aware of the problems-historical and otherwise-but it would be great to have it available sooner than later. It is already available in Europe and is a huge success.
All in all a great car which deserves to succeed. I hope Mr. Tata has patience and the money to keep it going. He has the backing of the British trade unions, a vital component.
The alternative- an offer from former failed Ford boss Nasser-would have been too horrible to contemplate.
Prices? From about 55 thousand upwards depending on specification.