Jeremy Clarkson - Jaguar XF

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Feb 16, 2008.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    The rubbish, brilliant saviour of Jaguar

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    Jeremy Clarkson
    February 10, 2008

    There are so many questions about the new Jaguar XF. How much is it? Who will own the company tomorrow? And how did Tony Blair manage to get one before it goes on sale? But the biggest question of the lot is this: how in the name of all that’s holy is Jaguar still with us?

    The problems began in the mid1970s, when Jaguar was part of the Communist party. Back then, everyone at British Leyland was so enamoured of the Soviets, they came within an ace of renaming it the Large Car Division. I’m surprised they didn’t settle on Zil.

    Eventually Jaguar was sold off to Ford, which never really understood what Jaguar was all about. The people at Ford managed Aston Martin well, and Land Rover too, but Jaguar stumped them. They couldn’t even say it properly.

    And so, in the past few years, we got the new XJ, which looks like a fatter version of the old XJ. We got the X-type, which was an expensive way of buying a Mondeo, and we got the S-type. Which was a Lincoln dressed in Mallory’s tweed suit. And fitted with Danniella Westbrook’s idiotic nose.

    Of course we also got the new XK, which is a brilliant car. However, buying one is the same as standing on top of a very tall building with a megaphone, telling everyone that you can’t afford an Aston Martin.

    Then of course Ford lost all its money. And then it lost all of everyone else’s money, and so, while the boffins and the stylists were beavering away on the new XF, Jaguar was put up for sale. “Wanted: someone to buy a car company that no one understands. Has made little or no profit for 20 years or more. Offers in excess of £1 billion. Willing to p/ex Land Rover as well.”

    Weirdly, it seems an Indian company called Tata, which makes horrid cars for people who are fed up with falling off their motor scooters, is said to be interested. God, I bet Gandhi is laughing his socks off. And I bet you’re very sad that this once great British manufacturer has been allowed to sink to such depths. The thing is, though: should you be sad? Was Jaguar ever really that great?

    Oh I’m sure people in chunky jumpers will be choking on their pipes at this outrageous proposition. They’ll point out that in 1948 the XK120 was the fastest production car in the world and that the D-type married monocoque thinking with aeronautical design. And that with Lofty England at the helm it won Le Mans in 1876.

    This is all true. But claiming that Jaguar is great today because of something it did in the 1950s is like claiming Egypt is a world power because of the pharaohs. The fact is that in my lifetime Jaguar’s forages into the realm of brilliance have been few and far between.

    Oh sure, people go all dewy-eyed about the Mk 2, but as we know from the historical document that is The Sweeney, if it were ever chased by a Granada Ghia, it would immediately crash into a pile of cardboard boxes.

    Then along came Arthur Daley, whose comic genius overshadowed anything achieved at Le Mans by Lofty England. As a result, Jaguars became vodka-and-tonic cars for the sheepskin classes. A car you drove when your taxi was at the menders.

    There was an attempt to get back on track with the XJ220 but that all went horribly wrong. Customers put down a deposit on what they’d been told was a four-wheel-drive V12 supercar and were understandably miffed when they found the actual car was two-wheel drive and had the engine from a Metro. Some resorted to the law to try to get their money back.

    Then there was the XJR-15, which crashed a lot, and the much publicised foray into Formula One, which blew up, didn’t start or cruised around quite slowly at the back.

    We like to think, then, that Jaguar’s history is as rich and as lustrous as a maharajah’s bathrobe, but the truth is, it’s a mishmash of strikes, unreliability, sheepskin, failure, vodka, tonic and public humiliation. In fact I would venture to suggest that the company’s reputation among the vast majority these days hangs solely on one car: the E-type – Jaguar’s 1966.

    That’s why we care where Jags are made. That’s why we care about who owns them. That’s why we care about the new XF. So here goes . . .

    First, there’s the styling. Jaguar says it looks like the stunning concept car we saw a couple of years ago but I’m not so sure. Some of the exquisite detailing on the concept – the guardsman-sharp creases on the bonnet and razor-thin headlamps – have not made it onto the production car.

    And I’m sorry but arguing that the two have the same proportions and stance is like saying I have the same proportions and stance as Brad Pitt. I do. But I’m never asked for his autograph.

    Had there been no concept car, I would never have known how good the XF could look. But there was, so I’m sorry but as a styling exercise the finished product just doesn’t float my boat.

    In fact when I came home to find it sitting in my drive I thought it was a Mondeo and ignored it for two days. When I finally took it for a drive the disappointments kept on coming. The dipped headlamps are not bright enough, the light switch is on the indicator stalk – a hallmark of cost-cutting – the cruise control wasn’t working, the throttle felt slack, the sat nav screen was unreadable thanks to too many reflections, and the windows don’t work when the ignition is off.

    Then there’s the starting procedure. To earn extra points from the Euro NCAP safety people, Jag, like everyone else, has replaced the traditional ignition key, which can damage your kneecap in a frontal crash, with a starter button. But unlike in everyone else’s cars sometimes the starter button doesn’t actually start the engine. I don’t know why.

    But I do know that by the time I’d got out, remembered the window was down, got back in and spent God knows how long trying to coax some life back into the ignition system, I was purple with righteous indignation.

    And then there’s the gearbox. It’s a normal auto but you can override it with paddles behind the wheel. Lovely. But if you change down into, say fourth, it won’t, after a while, go back into drive. Not unless you put the circular lever into “Sport” and then back into “D” again. This is wearisome and indicates that the whole car was built on a bit of a shoestring. There isn’t that much rear legroom either.

    Strangely, however, despite all of this, I enjoyed my time with the XF enormously. I’d have one over an equivalent BMW, Audi or Lexus any day. First of all, the interior is such a joyous place to sit. The high centre console makes you feel hemmed in, cocooned, safe. The materials used are modern, such as you would find at Zurich airport. The leather is hand-stitched with contrasting cotton and the blue lighting is brilliant. It doesn’t feel remotely like a Jag in there. And is that a bad thing?

    It doesn’t feel like a Jag to drive either. It’s quite noisy, for a kick-off, and it rides with a firmness that would shake the pile out of Arthur Daley’s car coat. The firmness is never uncomfortable, as it is in an Audi. It’s not a jiggliness that annoys. It’s a feeling that the suspension is sorted and that if you put your foot down, all will be well.

    It is. It may have the same engine as Noah used in his ark but as a car for covering ground, on A-roads, my God. You can forget your BMWs. This is fanbleedingtastic. Balanced. Meaty. Pretty soon you’ll not give a damn that the light switch is on the indicator stalk and you won’t worry about the poor dipped-beam lighting either. The beam from your smile will illuminate the road ahead well enough.

    This, then, is a car that’s flawed and fantastic, irritating and rewarding, mad and bad. But when all is said and done – and this is the nonsensical joy of cars – I liked it. I looked forward to driving it. I’m sad it’s not here any more.

    Because of this I have a sneaking suspicion that Jag, after 40 years of misery, is about to have the most delightful Indian summer.

    Vital statistics

    Model Jaguar XF SV8

    Engine 4196cc, eight cylinders

    Power 416bhp @ 6250rpm

    Torque 413 lb ft @ 3500rpm

    Transmission Six-speed auto with paddle shift

    Fuel 22.4mpg (combined cycle)

    CO2 299g/km

    Acceleration 0-60 in 5.1sec

    Top speed 155mph (limited)

    Road tax band G (£300 a year)

    Price £54,900

    On sale Now

    Rating [​IMG]

    Verdict Superbad

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  2. 04JETTA

    04JETTA OT Supporter

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    so its cool and it sucks at the same time? :ugh:
     
  3. zmiller91

    zmiller91 New Member

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    haha its pretty much every one of clarcksons reviews. he rarely finds a car hell fall in love with.
     
  4. Mr3GTP

    Mr3GTP OT Supporter

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    O motherfucking HI-O
    Jaguar hasn't been much to brag about for decades. I do love the look of the XJ-220, but the performance was never on par with others in it's class.

    The best way to experience frustration is to buy an '80s XJ-anything and try to "daily-drive" it. One benefit; if you do your own work, you'll get pretty good at troubleshooting. :cool:
     
  5. 04JETTA

    04JETTA OT Supporter

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    prolly XJ220 was the last good car
     
  6. torchC5

    torchC5 New Member

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    :ugh: You do know the XJ220 was briefly the fastest production car in the world(early nineties) until it was overthrown by the mighty Mclaren F1. It was also quite quick around the 'ring' despite it's poor brakes and hefty weight.
     
  7. art_VW_shark

    art_VW_shark OT Supporter

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    nice formula
    9/10 history
    1/10 driving dynamics
    sounds like a failtini
     

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