After driving the car on suspended wires across the River Thames in London last week, the all-new Jaguar XF made its official earth-bound debut at the New York International Auto Show, and to illustrate that it’s serious about the new car, Jaguar put on a show worthy of Broadway. Amid dramatic music, quick-cut films and choreographed dancing, designer Ian Callum was on hand to unveil the next-generation Jag, a new model that Jaguar says is crucial to making 2015 “The Year of the Cat,” and taking the company well into the future.
Unveiled alongside the all-new U.S.-Spec XE (Jaguar’s BMW 3-Series fighter), and the F-Type R Coupe, Jaguar is considering these new cars a birthday present to itself as the company celebrates its 80th anniversary. And there’s plenty to celebrate – the taut, focused cars could very well be what the brand is looking for to raise its profile and steal sales from rivals like BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz.
Callum, the legendary designer behind the Ford RS200 and the Aston Martin DB9, told the New York audience that the key to the XF’s new design was simplicity, stripping it of all unnecessary flourishes and sticking to its purest elements. That minimalist mindset carried over to the engineering too. An all-new aluminum-based construction helps the Jag shed over 400 pounds versus traditional steel construction, making it the lightest car in its class. And for losing all that weight, the Jag was rewarded with more power. The new XF has a choice of supercharged V6 powerplants that should be more than enough to prove this cat has claws .
Exact performance numbers won’t be released until closer to its winter 2015 release date, but Jaguar says that a 340 horsepower engine will come standard on the rear-wheel drive car, with a 380 horsepower engine reserved for the performance-focused all-wheel drive XF-S. While both engines will be mated to its eight-speed automatic transmission, Jaguar estimates that the XF-S will hit 60 miles per hour from a standstill in around five seconds. A V8 and a choice of diesel engines are available in Europe, but with the pair of versatile V6s available Stateside, it will be a few years off before they find their way into the U.S. market, if they make it here at all. But despite the limited choice of engines, these V6s are no gas-guzzlers –the new XF has the lowest carbon dioxide emissions of any car in its class.
Like any modern sport sedan, there’s plenty of tech and luxury to go with all that performance. Inside, the mixture of aluminum and lacquered wood gives off a contemporary, sporty feel while still maintaining the old-school wood and leather prestige of a traditional Jaguar. The XF has a new customizable infotainment system, a heads-up display, park assist and an all-new traction control system called the “All-Surface Progress Control” system that was developed with Land Rover to handle even the toughest driving conditions with the poise expected from a Jaguar.
Looking at the current Jaguar lineup, it’s hard to imagine that the company was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy less than a decade ago. The original XF of 2007 (along with a radically-new XJ flagship) were instrumental in turning the company around then and making it the luxury leader it is today. Thanks to a strong lineup and a growing demand for luxury cars in China, Jaguar’s (and partner Land Rover) global sales were up 9% in 2014. With the new XE, this next-generation XF, and the upcoming 2016 F-Pace crossover all coming soon, Jaguar’s could quickly have one of the most formidable luxury lineups in the world. At first, hearing Callum and the Jaguar brass refer to 2015 as “The Year of the Cat” seemed a little presumptuous. After pouring over the new XF, it really doesn’t sound too far off anymore.
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