Friday, 24 August 2007

XF - Jaguar's saviour or downfall?

I've seen spy shots of the forthcoming Jaguar XF (launched next Tuesday) and I'm not sure what to make of it. Whilst not in any way a traditional Jaguar, it still is undeniably an attractive car.

It strongly resembles a 4dr version of the XK coupe, with a slightly remodelled nose featuring a version of the grill seen on the 1968 XJ6. This is good. Jaguar saloons of the 1960s, such as the S-type and MK2, looked not dissimilar to 4dr versions of the XK150 coupe that preceded the E-type. But where I feel the XF will test those who may have considered one is the interior.
I've only seen one photograph of this, and I have to say I'm surprised. It does not look like a Jaguar interior at all, more the interior of something more low-rent like a 5-series. There are acres of black plastic, and only the thinnest sliver of wood demonstrates that this car is more expensive and prestigious than a VW Passat.

How could they have got it so wrong? Yes, they are losing money and need to appeal to younger buyers, but the XK has shown that Jaguar are capable of designing modern and contemporary interiors that still appeal to the lovers of the XJ and previous S-Type. The XK interior is an example of a truly epic interior: It can be trimmed in black leather and fitted with carbon fibre trim if the owner so desires, but still works well with the traditional cream leather and walnut that Jag fans like myself appreciate. The XF could have been like that, but instead they have chosen to take the German route. To quote an employee of Jaguar, stated on a spyshots forum, they have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

I am gutted. Rover went to the wall for being overly retro. Yet Jaguar, whose very appeal lies in being that, have abandoned it completely.

And it's not as if it's going to work. Young buyers will be put off by the continued 'old man' image of both XJ and X-Tripe, and the more mature fans will look upon the catastrophic interior of the car, turn on their heel, and leave the showroom. Jaguar are at risk of losing existing clientele without attracting anyone to replace them.

I hope that the shots I have seen are not of the interior that will be unveiled with the rest of the car next week. If they are, Jaguar is taking a huge gamble, and I for one don't believe it will pay off.

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