My 2010 Jaguar XF and XK

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Jaguar is an icon in the world of automotive. Legendary coupes, convertibles and elegant saloons have populated the world roads for nearly ninety years, when Sir Williams Lyons founded this manufacturer in 1922. Since then an endless series of gorgeous looking models have shown the true, genuine British taste in design and engineering, setting a landmark for many competitors, in Europe and in the rest of the world. Like few other brands on the planet, to own a Jaguar means to own an important piece of automotive history.

The launch of new models is a special event. For this reason, we decided to tell you the full story of the new XK and XF in two episodes.

The models that we remember first are the XK 120, 140 and 150, from 1948 till 1961, spectacular looking sport convertibles and coupes which are still pieces of art in terms of design and elegance. Jaguar production between the 50s and the 70s are those classic cars that you find in the most exclusive car auctions and their value has always maintained a remarkable strength through the decades, like very other few cars of that period. Those cars are still running in the hands of lucky owners who maintained their cars in their original status or they rebuilt them as per the original specification. If you happen to find one, with a healthy chassis and its proper documents and you are passionate about classic cars, I suggest you to buy one, spend a couple of years to rebuild it. You will find any original spare part in the UK, with a little patience and I can assure you will be rewarded when you will put it on the road again.

That was not the peak of Jaguar production history. In fact the most famous E Type was presented in 1961 and it was a real marvel that left the competitors astonished, including the Italian legends like Ferrari and Lamborghini. Enzo Ferrari himself said that the E Type was the best looking car ever designed. I find this car one of most sensual shapes history can tell with incomparable proportions and elegance. The long front bonnet and the minimal short back end are signatures of these models, as well as the oval open mouth. I personally know a gentleman who doesn’t want to drive his own; he parked his blue E Type in his lounge.

The E Type lasted fourteen years making the fortune of Jaguar and also participating to countless racing competitions all over the planet, winning numerous and prestigious championships. Racing success has increased the importance of this brand, considering that it won against sport icons like Ferrari, Porsche, Ford, Lotus etc. Competition brought technology development and research on material and processes at a point that Jaguar decided to participate the Formula 1 championship from 2000 to 2004, under the direction of the legendary Jackie Stewart.

It was hard for Jaguar to maintain the same fascinating aura around this glorious brand but they kept on producing great quality machines and keeping up with the technology rush that started in the 80s. The saloon market was also very important for the Coventry factory. The popular four doors XJ has been chosen by thousands of drivers in the world, it was a perfect, elegant, high end car that could be driven or being driven by the chauffeur. The XJ started its life in 1968 and it still continues its path and its example. It competes with strong actors, like Mercedes E Class and BMW 5s and it still maintains its very own personality. It has been pushed by 6, 8 and 12 cylinder engines, so to give a broader choice to the demanding clients. It shows again one of those shapes that you don’t need to change since it’s already a very well proportioned body, with a character of its own. Jaguar in fact made just few cosmetic changes through the decades without touching the original idea. History has taught us that simple shapes and lines last longer that extravagant concept cars made to attract attention for a short while.

Today the game gets tougher. Technology has reached unimaginable level. Electronics is in control of everything in a modern high end car. Engine management, suspension, gear box, differential, traction, stability, braking and steering are connected to the big brother and its ECU. No one in the world can think to build and drive any modern commuter without the use of a computer. More power, more weight, more safety features, more hydraulic and electric motors are in command of seats, windows, heating and cooling, mirrors and lights. It is very difficult to deliver a product that keeps its own personality when everything is filtered by a motherboard but on the other hand all this technology has allowed anyone to drive means of transport with more than 500 Bhp, even a lady doing shopping downtown. Only twenty years ago a top end saloon has an average of 300 Bhp and at that time it was a lot of power, considering that the driver had control of everything and any mistake could cost him bitter bills.

Jaguar is a modern organisation and the latest models, are one the highest examples of technological development. We tested the new XK and XF at the Dubai autodrome, an environment where a machine goes through the toughest dynamic test.

The meeting was organized to show that if these cars can perform on a race track, then they can be unbeatable on the open roads. I appreciate this idea very much and I made sure I was not missing it. Available engines were the normally aspirated 5 litre with 385 BHP and the 5 litre supercharged with 510 BHP, both available on the saloon XF and the coupe or convertible XK. We were briefed by some experts coming directly from the headquarters in Coventry who showed a lot of passion in telling us how Jaguar has squeezed every gram of energy to produce a modern machine, loaded with all the best technology but giving the driver a unique pleasure of driving. When you talk about 1850 kg of weight and more than 500 horses, you definitely need a very good chassis, perfect suspensions to cope with the weight transfer, a very reliable gearbox, surely strong brakes and a lot of common sense. The engineers have spent months of testing in the laboratories and on the roads and if we are invited to test them, I am sure it will be a good surprise.

We first drove the saloon XF in the handling area of the Dubai Autodrome, where we have to find out how electronics and mechanics make you feel you are not driving such a heavy car. I am a little skeptical to be completely honest, but as usual, I am ready to change my mind. After a short explanation of how the course is set up, I sit in the car, set everything on sport and attack the throttle pedal. First impression is how immediate is the response of the engines, both the standard and the supercharged. The torque is soon available and power comes up very quickly. I have to brake before entering the coned sector where I have to turn the steering wheel very fast, engaged by medium range slalom. I have to say I am surprised about the reactive front end entering a tight bend and even more when I have to change direction suddenly. The suspension management is very well tuned, making you feel much less weight than it is really. The weight transfer is massive in braking and acceleration as well as lateral roll but within few thousands of a second the ECU strengthens the suspensions to compensate the unbalance.

The outcome is absolutely remarkable with a very neutral behavior and slightly under steering beyond the limits, as expected. There is a lot of inertia, considering the big 5 litre engine sitting in the front but again the engineers have found an excellent dynamic balance.


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