In 2007 Jaguar started the most intensive make-over in the brand’s history with the redesigned XK. While the look was drop-dead gorgeous, the interior was more evolution than revolution when you consider the direction the XF and new XJ have taken. Now that the world has managed to catch its breath after the shock of the XF and XJ’s ultra-chic modern styling, Jaguar decided to give the XK a thorough refresh in 2010.
Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi are all parts of huge organizations with vast resources. When developing a new flagship sedan, they can finesse every last detail. (Whether they actually do so is another matter.) Though previously owned by Ford and now owned by Indian conglomerate Tata, Jaguar has had to make do with so much less that it’s almost a miracle it can field a contemporary large luxury sedan at all. And yet we have the new XJ.
Why did we have an eleven-year-old, scratch-and-dent, no-maintenance-records, twelve-cylinder Jaguar on our lot? Blame our naive sales manager, who always paid top dollar for trades. In his haste to revolutionize the way people bought and sold luxury cars in Dublin, Ohio, “Steve” tended to ignore the established car-sales playbook. At the time, I thought he was bold; I now realize he was stupid.
It’s famously said that the SCCA road-racing rulebook is “written in blood”. Every rule in the book is a lesson learned from a tragic occurrence. By the same token, every rule in the car-sales biz is written, not in blood, but in red ink. There’s one rule in particular that is written in so much ink that it’s bled through the page, and that is: Don’t take used cars to customer homes for test drives. If you look closely, you will see an asterisk to that rule, added by me, and at the bottom of the metaphorical page, I’ve written: * this goes double for Jags.
A wise old man once told me: “you can’t just own a Jaguar, you have to have a love affair with one.” The reasons for this were several, the sexy rooflines hampered head room and visibility, trunk space was non-existent, and then there are those reliability woes. Although my 2000 XJ8 has (no kidding) been the definition of a reliable car for the past 120,000 miles, the mantra applied. When Jaguar came out with a new S-Type, the restrained classic styling screamed “this is your father’s Jaguar.” When Jaguar created performance models like the XJR and S-Type R, they were just fast fat cats, not really holding their own against the Germans. But that wasn’t their goal at the time, the goal was to propel an English gentleman’s club on wheels with “swift progress” to quote the XFR’s owners guide. Jaguar styling was the definition of restrained classic elegance. Everyone who saw a Jaguar would gush about how gorgeous they looked in the parking lot. Consumers loved the look in someone else’s parking lot, but put a BMW in their driveway. Like the box of abandoned kittens at the PetCo front door, nobody really wanted to take the kitty home, and that’s a pity.
I could bore you all with the long story of how I ended up in the check-cashing business — it involved an attack with a broomstick and a coffee mug — but instead we will simply join the action in medias res some time in 1996. I am standing on the used-car lot outside Welsh Enterprises choosing my XJ6. Bill Welsh, the owner, had just treated me to lunch at “Jaggin’ Around”, the restaurant he owned in Steubenville, Ohio. A millionaire several times over from his intelligent decision to purchase some sixty-odd E-Types for pennies on the dollar in the Seventies and resell them at top whack in the Eighties, he was cheerfully burning his afternoon as I drifted among no fewer than six solid-condition Series III Jags, none priced above $4995. Clearly, this was more about amusement than money.
If there’s a counterpoint in this test to the GS350′s robotic rationality, it’s the Jaguar XF. If the Lexus makes perfect sense to the kind of people who see car buying as an equation to be solved, the XFR is the only choice for right-brained aesthetes. It screams sex appeal like nothing has since Sofia Loren could steal your virginity with once glance from the silver screen. And yet, as with most beautiful things, a hard look past the exterior reveals things you might wish you didn’t know. Love at first sight can be a blessing and a curse.
“I don’t think this is what Sir William had in mind.” The sleek and sensuous British Racing Green Jaguar XK 120 roared along the gravel road on the floor of a remote valley in the middle of Nevada. I doubt William Lyons could have imagined the scene fifty-some years before. The XK 120′s speedometer needle waggled vaguely, yet constantly between 60 and 90 MPH—indicating that we had reached ‘ludicrous speed” (given the conditions). A plume of dust streamed out behind the car, the parched solid matter equivalent-yet-antithesis of the liquid rooster-tail following a hydroplane. My co-driver laughed at either my comment or the sheer joy of the moment, it was impossible to tell.
Review: 1954 Jaguar XK120 Roadster Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
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.