Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Jaguar XF - great car but too few choices?

This is the new XF, the successor to the old S-Type. If the photos and initial reports are anything to go by, this is going to be a great car. Jaguar seems to have finally shaken off its obsession with retro and produced something stunning - dare I say it even looks a bit like a four-door Aston?

But I still have one or two concerns. In the initial line-up, there's no room for the brilliant 3.6 litre V8 diesel that is used to such magnificent effect in the big Land Rovers. In fact, this hasn't made it into any Jaguar model so far. The XF makes do with the admittedly very agreeable 2.7 litre V6 diesel but could do with the extra firepower in order to compete more effectively with the Germans. Come on, Jag, get cracking. This is urgent stuff.

It's lower down the range, though, that I see the biggest problem. Mercedes and BMW sell far more units of the E Class and 5 Series than Jag does of the S-Type. IMHO, that's not because the Jag is inferior but has much more to do with the fact that Jaguar only competes with the top end of the 5 Series and E Class ranges. The lower-end BMW 523i and 520d, and Mercedes E220CDI are convincing products to which the S-Type range had no response, a mistake - for that is what I think it is - repeated with the initial XF line-up. There was a 2.5 litre petrol version of the S-Type for a bit, but this always seemed to be the poor relation of the range.

Really, there are no bad Jags. Rather, I think the problem has always been that the company tends to produce good cars that slightly miss the mark in market terms (too small, say, or too big or too retro) - unlike Land Rover, its sister company, which hits the bull's eye every time. But I'd love Jaguar to prove me wrong with the XF - and I can't wait to get the chance to drive it.

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