Ten years on from the XF launch the car that many say saved Jaguar is still winning awards
The Jaguar XF has just picked one of the most coveted, which was not voted for by experts, but by the most important people of all – owners
When the XF business sector saloon was designed, Jaguar was still struggling with the slightly underwhelming Ford Mondeo-based X-Type and the retro-styled S-Type and had fallen way behind the German marques
At the time the company was still owned by Ford and the engineers and stylists involved in creating the XF had two crucial briefs to meet. The first was to create a car that would beat the Germans, the second to make a car good enough to let Ford hang its hat on, so it could back out of the loss-making partnership and sell the company.
The team more than rose to the challenge and when the XF arrived in 2007 it was met by widespread acclaim. Designed by a man widely regarded as a leader in his field, Scottish-born, Ian Callum, the XF looked graceful and modern, had decent engines, a reasonable interior but there was one area in which it was the clear and undisputed leader – the way it covered the road thanks to a chassis, suspension and rear wheel drive package which made it a real driver’s car.
Sales followed and Jaguar’s brand image and appeal began to revive as word spread that its new car was a match for anything from Audi, BMW or Mercedes.
Over the following years the XF became the most awarded Jaguar ever, picking up a remarkable 190 trophies, of which. just the latest is the New Car of the Year voted for by 10,000 readers of Auto Express magazine.
In 2015 and now able to tap into the colossal investment by its current owners, Tata, the car was utterly transformed with what was not so much a facelift as complete re-engineering from the wheels upwards. Jaguar ditched the heavy old steel chassis it had from its Ford days and instead built the XF around a new, aluminium structure that was much stiffer than its predecessor but crucially, also much lighter to the tune of almost 200 kgs. Both these made huge differences to the ride and the handling and at the same time the all-new and advanced range of Ingenium engines arrived under the bonnet. Subtle styling tweaks and a big advance in the driving environment with better trim materials and a much improved infotainment/connectivity centre made a very good car into a brilliant one.
The XF is available as either the saloon or the just-revealed new Sportbrake estate. This too has a class-leading chassis and driving dynamics. but what catches the eye. are some of the advanced comfort and convenience features. For example, the panoramic sunroof can be opened with just a gesture of your hand as can the huge boot if your hands are full of shopping. If you are the athletic or outdoors type, there is no need to worry about making sure the key is in your pockets because Jaguar has come up with an `activity key’ you wear like a Fitbit or wrist watch.
Caravaners will approve of its all wheel grip and two tonne towing capability and the XF has an impeccable pedigree in this sector. In fact, it has just won its weight category in the Caravan Club’s Towcar of the Year awards for the second year running.
Going into its tenth year the XF has already had a remarkable career but the 2015 improvements in engineering, infotainment, styling and cabin features have kept it fresh, relevant and still a class leader.
This latest award won’t be its last.
John Swift writes:
I’ve always thought of Jaguar as being cars with emotion in them.
They have the history, the styling and at their best they could lead the world. Sadly, and for many years much was promised but very little delivered. Time and again I would go to a press launch, drive the new Jaguar and come home thinking
Why can’t they build them like they used to?
And then I drove the first XF and it was nothing short of a revelation. The car not only looked the part; it drove as I believed a Jaguar saloon should. I tested them on the road and at Silverstone race track and was absolutely delighted that the Big Cat was back. Finally, the Germans had a genuine rival and it was clear that with proper investment the engineering talent, that was always there, could get the job done right.
Every car since then has been an unqualified success and the company is going from strength to strength but I believe it was the XF which started it on the road to recovery.
It’s misleading to describe the 2015 revision as a facelift or upgrade, it’s much more than that and what you find in today’s showrooms is essentially a new car just wearing the same badge as before.
Remember Jaguar founder, Sir Williams Lyons’ command that his cars should have
Grace, pace and space
Test drive a Jaguar XF and you will soon see his legacy is alive and well.