Thursday, 2 July 2009

The next big thing from the big cat

In just a few days' time, Jaguar will unveil the new XJ. We've seen the teaser pics, we've seen the photoshops, and within a week we'll have seen the finished article. And some aren't looking forward to it.

The general consensus is that it looks like an XF that's been scaled up, and this is the root of the problem. Many do not like Jaguar's 'new and bland' design direction. I beg to differ, and would argue that the current cars are the most Jaguar-like since the XJ40. I'm not saying they're perfect - XF, the clearest vision of Jaguar's future, is flawed. The grille should have been a cross-hatch grille like the first XJs. But that's really beside the point.

Jaguar have spent the last twenty years perfecting a 'retro' design theme which, many would argue, is the raison d'etre of such cars. But if you take a trip down memory lane, examining the MK2, the E-Type, the XJ-S, the original XJ, you find a stream of contemporary designs completely at odds with how we see Jag today. The XF, and new XJ, are no different. To satisfy those who crave nostalgia, the new cars even take design hints from these revered brethren. That hump over the lights on the XF? MK2. The general four-door sportscar lines? MK2. The face - a square grille with 4 round lights? Take a look at a Series 1 XJ. The hump in the bonnet? XJ-S. And the wide shoulders - remind you of something?

Will it be a success? To answer that, I think we should look again at the XF. You see several - certainly here in South Yorkshire I see as many as I do S-Types. It's been a big hit - capturing a new market for Jaguar and managing to retain a large proportion of their old customers. And I'm confident XJ can do that for the class above.

Ultimately, I suppose we shall have to wait and see. XF looks like a modern MK2, XJ is predicted as a modern Mark 10. That failed because it was too big for Sixties Britain. It's possible that in the recession-stricken 'Tens' which are to follow, the new XJ may well suffer the same fate.

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