A few years ago, Jaguar was in trouble. It had a brand positioning problem. The company had been taken over by General Motors, who wanted to make Jaguar accessible to a…less affluent audience, while maintaining its premium marque pedigree and increasing the customer base.
The trouble is, Jaguar’s brand didn’t, and still doesn’t allow for this to happen. There are ways and means to increase your customer base without cannibalising your brand values and in turn your products.
BMW did this quite successfully for a number of years with the Compact 3-Series and it’s doing it again with the 1-Series. Mercedes did it with the A-Class, which, despite being a dreadful car to begin with, actually turned out OK several versions later, and the latest concept is quite a looker.
Unfortunately for Jaguar, they began launching cars that were in essence just posh Ford Mondeos. This might be slightly unfair because both the X and S-Type drove very well and the engines were good, especially the V8. Unfortunately the rest of the car had been put together with Pritt Stick, glitter glue and pieces of string, so everyone who owned one, ultimately hated it.
Thankfully GM sold Jaguar to an Indian company, who seem to have realised that when it comes to design, it’s best to leave it to the British.
As a result, the new Jaguar range has got Mercedes and BMW shuffling rather awkwardly in their perforated leather seats. Even Audi must start loosening their ties when they see the new XF, because it is stunning.
So the new Jaguar XF is pretty, but the old cars weren’t ugly. The XF is extremely well put together. Fit and finish rivals anything with a German badge and performance reviews seem to indicate that the XF is superior. The interior is superb and there are some subtle touches to remind you that this is a ‘proper’ Jaguar.
Don’t think we're trying to fool you into thinking that the XF is going to handle like a BMW, because it won’t; although you should be glad of that because it's a more sophisticated drive. A 5 Series has a sportier feel, but you will need your spine examining by a medical practitioner after a long journey. The suspension in the XF balances the car extremely well and the range of engines means that the XF can easily keep up with its rivals; getting yourself a mid-sized diesel engine will balance performance and comfort perfectly.
So the new XF is a true return to form for Jaguar, but this car risks becoming a victim of its own success. At under £30k the Jaguar XF is company car territory, which means there will be loads of the damn things. This beautiful car could and probably will become the norm, and I can see why you might be worried about that.
We’re not worried. If you are getting a company car, fine, the XF is an excellent choice. At least you can be safe in the knowledge that a few years down the line, you aren’t going to pull up at the traffic lights, only to find an unscrupulous youth, with a baseball cap at a jaunty angle, driving a second-hand XF. You do run that risk if you buy a BMW. For that reason alone, we would buy the Jaguar.
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