Design review: New Jaguar XF

Jaguar was in the process of reinvention when design director Ian Callum sketched his first XF in 2007. It was to be an entry-level car, attracting new customers and debuting the marque’s new design.

The sporty coupé body was an unusual proposition for premium business car at the time, as was the bold interior design. It grabbed our attention and succeeded in presenting a new, confident Jaguar brand. Now, and with a small XE in production and a family of cars that include the F-Type sports car and F-Pace crossover in the horizon, it was time for a new XF.

The base of this second-generation model is Jaguar’s lightweight modular architecture. The design team worked closely with engineering to harness this and conceive a car that is lighter yet stiffer, highly aerodynamic, more compact in proportion yet roomier inside.

So at 4,954mm long; the car is 7mm shorter and 3mm lower than the previous model, yet the shorter front overhang and stretched wheelbase has allowed for 15mm more legroom and up to 27mm more headroom. The XF boasts exceptionally low aero drag of 0.26cd, achieved through a range of interesting design tweaks.

Furthermore, the fusion of light aluminium for the body panel, and a mix of high strength steel in key structural areas, means the car is now stiffer and lighter by some 190kg than the previous car for a much smoother ride as we were to discover on the Circuito de Navarra and the Navarran Pyrenees where we put the car to the test.

This expansive and hugely dramatic landscape in northern Spain can instigate a compelling story for most vehicles, yet the XF, though essentially a business car destined for less exotic locations of urban settings and motorways, almost ‘owned’ these empty roads that snake high into the lush green uplands.

In terms of design, the XF is very much an evolutionary one that continues exploring the distinct silhouette of the original model whilst introducing a more vertical assertive mesh grille, shorter front overhang and the distinctive power bulge that now runs all the way up the elegant long bonnet.

Callum points to the waistline which sits at a more horizontal level now, ‘the strongest element of this car visually,’ he calls it. ‘We’ve worked very hard to create a shoulder line that is much more elegant, stronger yet relaxed in many ways sitting underneath the window graphic of the car,’ he says explaining how it ties the whole car together.

There are extra rear windows, which, coupled with the optional panoramic sunroof, really improves the feeling of spaciousness at the cabin. The car’s behind has also been given a distinctive look with an interpretation of the LED tail lights first featured on the recent F-Type, replete with a rather lovely chiselled boot line, thus creating a narrative between the siblings.

The brief for interior design was to retain the sense of theatre introduced in the original XF but improve the materials and textures so that it evidently sits above the entry-level XE. The layered instrument panel now swoops the width of the car merging into the doors emphasised by singular stitching and it featuring the XJ signature Riva Hoop design.

This is a hugely connected car too, digital yet at the same time offering high levels of quality and craftsmanship and plenty of tactile surfaces – soft leather, warm wood and shinny chrome elements. There is a reconfigurable TFT instrument cluster, a 10.2-inch touch screen containing all the infotainment and entertainment information, and laser head-up display for convenient navigation.

‘One of the things that is great about the interior is the theatre of it,’ muses Callum. So the rotary shift control and air vents magically spin open when you turn on the engine. ‘It’s a wonderful moment when they spin up to say hello to you. It gives you that sense of occasion.’

With the XF, Jaguar has shown that it can propose an alternative in an otherwise crowded and often conservative executive car market. This product is a perfect blend – infusing elements of the marque’s sports car knowhow with sprinkles of quirkiness for that added bit of magic.

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

The new Jaguar XF is on sale from September.

Read our previous articles on Jaguar.

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