First Drive: New Jaguar XF

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They say that you should never meet your heroes, but that mattered little when Ian Callum, Design Director at Jaguar brought his passion for the brand, and for cars generally, to the launch of his latest creation, the Jaguar XF in Pamplona, Spain recently.

A challenger to the BMW 5-Series, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the Audi A6, there is something quite different about it compared to those and others. It is a unique model in the prestige segment and ready to fight for its share of a market where luxury and smoothness take centre stage for the wealthy and business customer.

Compared to the outgoing model that first appeared in 2008, this new car is lighter, more powerful and more aerodynamic. It will also be available with the latest technology and features that we have never seen in a car of this type before. Add the luxury for which Jaguar is renowned, plus new, more efficient engines with lower consumption and lower CO2 emissions, and you have a car that will surely rattle a few cages in the big German car makers’ headquarters.

Jaguar took us to the Formula 1 standard Navara Racing Circuit to demonstrate that a car of its size can still be nimble and have the power to set impressive lap times. That confidence was rewarded by the sheer agility of the XF and the pace of the car at full tilt. The electric power steering and the suspension set-up of the car were both highlights around the track. Added to that was the performance of the car on the open roads around the Spanish hills, marking it down as another victory for Ian Callum and his team.

The XF sits at the very heart of Jaguar; the original XF was the car that re-ignited the brand back in 2008 when selling cars of this size was both difficult and frowned upon in some quarters. That was at the depth of the recession but now that things are looking up the timing of the launch of the new version could not be better. It will arrive in Irish showrooms in mid October, and while the price has yet to be announced, we expect that it will have a price tag similar to the outgoing model; somewhere around €44,000 for the basic model with a two-litre engine.

In Ireland there will be S, SE, XF Prestige, XF R-Sport and XF Portfolio specifications with 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesels rated at 163PS/380Nm and 180PS/430Nm respectively, both available with six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic transmissions.

Gerry Murphy

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