The sun breaks through trees and plays off the long bonnet. As I loaf along the arrow-straight road, I absorb the soundtrack: the baritone exhaust note of the big-bore, long-stroke, inline-six. Ahead, I spot that sign that makes every true driver shut down the internal dialog in their brain and focus on the here and now: Winding Road. Amazing what a sign can do to lift one’s spirit. In a Jaguar E-Type, elevation quickly becomes ecstasy.
Last week, the Americans sold Jaguar to the Indians. After losing billions on the English marque, Ford finally unloaded their perennial loss maker on Tata Motors. Amidst varying reports on the Indian conglomerate’s plans for the brand, the new XF sedan continues to roll down the assembly line. We’ve already driven the base model of the car that is (for now) Tata’s greatest hope for immediate profit. Now we turn to the Supercharged model. Stateside, acquiring the XF Supercharged requires an extra ten grand (and the rest) above than the base car’s base price. Is it worth it?
2009 Jaguar XF Supercharged Review Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
Last month, U.S. Jag dealers sold just over a thousand new cars, despite cut-rate financing. While the entire U.S. car market is going South, Jaguar's stuffy image is sending the venerable marque Hades-wise in a supersonic hand basket. The new XF midrange sedan is supposed to reverse these declining fortunes by burying memories of the bulbous, fusty, pudenda-fronted S-Type (not to mention the execrable X-Type). I grabbed an XF fresh off the transporter to see if Jag’s lobbing snowballs in Hell.
2009 Jaguar XF Review Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
Jaguar is a dead brand walking. Analysts blame stagnant styling for its sales somnambulism. To rectify the aesthetic deficit, the man behind the universally beloved Aston Martin range penned the universally beliked Jaguar XK (that looks like an Aston Martin) and the upcoming XF (that looks like a Volvo). While Jag fans hope the recently released XF will revive the brand’s fortunes, the model it replaces soldiers on for another year. I got cozy with the doomed 2008 4.2 liter V8 S-Type to see what no one– or everyone– seems to be missing.
Jaguar S-Type Review Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars
As far as I’m concerned, Jaguar died the day the suits killed the F-Type. Jag’s prototype Boxster beater had it all: sexy looks, the promise of phenomenal performance and a decent chance of hitting the right price point. But oh no, the American owned company decided to spend its time and money building… diesels. And a badge engineered Ford Mondeo called the X-Type. And estates— sorry, “sportwagons.” So, seven years later, I found myself behind the wheel of Jaguar’s perfect storm: a diesel X-Type Sportwagon. Or, as the Brits say, the dog’s breakfast.
Let’s get this out of the way: the Jaguar XK8 is a grill-challenged automobile. It's as if Ford sent all their leftover Taurus grills to the UK and then leaned on Jaguar engineers to find them a home. Or maybe the XK8’s grill was intended as a comeuppance; a punishment to the brand’s designers for daring to create a “new” car that borrows so heavily from their up-market British cousin’s two-door. Or maybe the wide mouth bass grill is all about brand differentiation; a stylistic non-flourish designed to ensure that no potential buyer confuses the Jaguar XK8 and the Aston Martin DB9. Now if someone had grafted the front end of a BMW 650i to the XK, we might have had something…
The Jaguar XJR is an iconic car. No wait. I mean, it's an ironic car: an automobile with a huge gap between expectation and reality. For example, you expect a leather-lined British luxury sedan to literally reek of class. The XJR smells of… nothing. You expect the torch bearer for Jaguar's performance heritage to handle corners with cat-like reflexes. It doesn't. And yet, the XJR perfectly embodies the Jaguar creed of "pace and grace". Truth be told, the XJR is both more and less than it seems.
On the more side, the XJR will pleasantly disappoint anyone expecting dodgy electrics, rusting panels and faulty mechanicals. While JD Power's Initial Quality Survey is more about customer satisfaction than build quality, the brand's ascension to the second place slot is a reasonable reflection of the XJR's reliability. No part of the sports sedan seemed predisposed to rot, break, fall off or fail. It's a thoroughly modern machine.
You're a braver man than I, Jeremy Clarkson. There I was, sitting behind the wheel of your 'Car of the Century', shitting myself. Henry Pearman, the man responsible for the Eagle E-Type Sport, was urging me on. 'I've seen this car beat a Porsche 'round a race track,' he hinted. Yes Henry, but I know how to drive a Porsche. I challenge an average driver to cane this E-Type. Even below the legal limit, the car was all over the place. I felt like a novice skier barrelling down a black run. Towards a tree. Without airbags. Or a crumple zone. Sorry, Henry. Sorry, Jeremy. I guess I'm not man enough for your machine.
It's a shame. The E-Type is the most visually stunning car ever made. Allegedly. Forty-one years after its Geneva debut, the nose-heavy styling still stirs debate. Some consider the Series One E-Type Roadster a timeless classic, blending feminine curves with sporting intent. Others see it as the original 'sports car as phallic symbol', embodying the embarrassing hyper-sexuality of a severe mid-life crisis. Love it or mock it, you can't ignore it. Jaguar's first E-Type still has enormous presence, and perfectly judged detailing. From wire wheels to aircraft style toggle switches to the clearly labelled 'cigar' lighter, you wouldn't want to change a thing.
The Jaguar XK8 is a classic. Six years after its debut, the design is still fresh, bold and dramatic. It's one of those cars that somehow looks fast standing still. Okay, viewed from the side, the boot is about two feet too long- thanks to US regulations requiring all expensive cars to accommodate two golf bags. Even so, the Jag rules. Freshened Porsches, Mercs, Beemers and Lexi still can't compete with the XK's svelte aggression. Slinking into the club's parking lot, the Jag proclaims, 'Look out boys, this cat has claws!'
Except it doesn't. Yes, the XK is fast. The standard 4.0 litre car zooms from zero to sixty in 6.6 seconds. The supercharged XKR makes the same dash in 5.1. But anyone who loves life (or hates insurance forms) shouldn't try to carry that speed into a corner. The heavyweight XK8 is a cleverly disguised boulevard cruiser. Ask it to change directions quickly and, well, hippo-type wallowing ensues. It doesn't matter if you try to counter the XK's 'hard-a-starboard' body roll with brakes, acceleration, opposite lock or prayer. Bad things happen. Owners quickly learn to restrict their fun to straight-line blasts or slow motion posing.