There is something wrong with Jaguar. I can’t point out exactly what, but I can explain it by an example. See, you meet a girl when you were eighteen. She is all very pretty and perky. But thirty years later, when you meet the same girl, now an old woman, she has become the queen of gone horribly wrong aging. What will be actually going on in your mind at that point … “Ah, all those rumors of her about hard drinking and snorting the white powder were true after all!”
The same is with jaguar. Jaguar used to be the epitome of British beauties. The everlasting prettiness of a Jaguar E-type sitting on your front porch for an example. But then she decided to go communist, gained some extra pounds and developed affection for quick money from retired dentists in Florida. Instead of becoming a cougar she became an ugly dying camel.
Now, Ian Callum and his professed love towards Jaguar, is trying to save her family reputation. I cannot discount Callum as just another car designer. He is a visionary, a genius, an artist. But somehow, all his hard work does not feel right. In my dream world if Callum had designed the new S class, it would have been a huge success. In the real world though, he is designing the new luxury barge from Jaguar called the XJ. It is all good looking and futuristic and a break away from the bad aging. Even then, it doesn’t help Jaguar a little bit.
The old pictures of an ugly Jaguar are still very vivid in people’s minds. So are the scary stories of doors coming off and engine refusing to budge to your desperate attempt at turning the keys. It all feels like, a brilliant plastic surgeon trying to hide away all those crow feet and wrinkles under a thin layer of aluminum shell. Nobody and their accounts manager will be willing to put that kind of cash into an expensive car like the XJ, especially if you look at the fact that it is from a company with the worst financial history.
The other brilliant car from jaguar, the XFR is also in no good shape to rescue the company. First of all I will break the news about what is utmost wrong about the XFR. The car has electrical issues. There, I have said it. If you are paying truck load of cash for a car like this, you expect things to be all working perfectly well. That is not with the XFR. It is not that fumes come out of the dash board, but there is a little bit of histrionics on the Jags part. I don’t see it as normal behavior, even in a discounted people carrier. It is annoying, and very well disappointing. All those theatrical effects of the flipping air con vents and the throbbing red starter switch all feels like they are all conspiring as to when to have a mass strike on the factory floor. It disheartened my spirit a lot. Though the dealers were very kind and apologetic, and told me they have fixed the issue, it still nags my mind. Why, did Jaguar engineers spoil the plastic surgery and face lifting party with a loose connection. It just is impossible to explain. A good company like the Mercedes lost its entire market share because of shoddy electricals installed to save cost. So why would Jaguar too repeat the same mistake? Was there an old saying too, which goes on like this “Learn from others mistakes”?
Then there is the XFR performance. Again I have to say this is a brilliant looking car. But it should have come out ten years before. Now, the BMW M5 has made all other performance sedans look like redundant experiments.There is no point in buying an XFR. It is cheaper than an M5, but again it is slower than an M5. The handling is brilliant, but not as brilliant as a BMW. The interiors of the Jag are well appointed and make you feel like you are in your childhood dream, but the BMW is a geek heaven. The suspension is never harsh on you on the XFR, so is the BMW- at least to an extent. I don’t see any compelling reason not to buy a M5 instead of an XFR. Yes the M5 is slightly odd looking, but so is the cheap looking grill on that XFR. Where did that mesh grill come from, the eighties? And, you know what, the Jag is not an indication of sophistication either. The communist period at the Jag, destroyed its reputation as a symbol of British tight upper lip. Now, driving a Jag only means, you have weird fetish towards all things dental. Jaguar has no place in this modern world dominated by the German behemoths and the Japanese slush wagons called the Lax-us. The Jaguar has a secret weapon though. And nobody cares about it.
Even the company is late in recognizing its potential. If you take a closer look at the XFR, you will be amazed by the difference. Though performance wise the Brit cat is a bit behind the curve as compared to an M5, it is the best car to own and use it on a daily basis as a high performance sedan. Do you know why? It is because; it is by far the most fuel efficient high performance sedan ever. It falls into a lower tax bracket, due to its lower emissions. On the road, at stop and go traffic, it feels much more comfortable than the M5 too. Also, the nosy pretentious Prius driving neighbor of yours will never get to know, you are driving an R version of the Jag. This is because there are minimal visual cues separating it from its slower siblings. The car has minimal branding of the R badge unlike the M5. If you are like me, a big fan of the badge delete program, then you will love the Jag. Take off that R lettering, and only an auto geek can spot you as a R driving enthusiast. For all other Jack, Dick and Sally it is just the run off the mill XF.
But, nobody, I mean nobody in this world, wants not to be ostentatious. If you have a Bentley, you will take it to the busiest street in the world. This means, you will have to suffer the bumps on that 20 inch low profile rollers, you will scrub the front bumper against the kerb, the ten year old hawker who doesn’t know what a Bentley is: draws a nice picture of your wife’s bottom on the silver chrome body work using the one rupee coin that you threw at him, you will stop the entire traffic of the city because you have to scold your brilliant and patient driver who is putting up with your stupidity of driving a huge arse Bentley on a crowded single lane.
The sad reality is, no matter how much prettier the XFR is than the M5, how much better it feels to drive on a busy street than the M5, it will never be a legend as the M5. It will be remembered in a few corners of the world as a car that also ran for the laurels of the best high performance sedan. People will remember only vaguely, like the Lancia Stratos. This Brit cat does have a few good points in its favor, but it is way too little to be rescued by them. The Jaguar also knows very well of this sad situation. The present economy is also not helping things very much for the British legend. The car is an understated performance monster. But the time that we live in, we need everything loud and bling. The recession has not taught anybody any lesson. The only lesson that the recession has taught if at all is, even if you are poor and your business is nose diving into the cesspool of brown, smelly things, your wife and your children are unwilling to compromise on the lifestyles that they are used to. They will leave you, if you give a bit of a hint about going bankrupt, allowing you to look at an even more expensive lawyer bill. And Sadly the Jag is never part of that lifestyle.
The Jaguar has finally decided to veer off from the retired dentist folks in Florida and is now aiming directly at the young and young at heart, which is good news. Only time will tell how fast the new Jaguars can return to the status they once enjoyed. The new XFR is an excellent example of Jaguar’s new found spirit and ambition.
Verdict: If the XFR was a new Mercedes, people would have been ready to forgive the stupidity of Daimler. It is that good. Finally the Germans have some credible competition.
Here is the The Shock of the Lightning Ad from Jaguar featuring the new XKR and the XFR.
Here is the Gorgeous Ad campaign by EuroRSCG for Jaguar featuring Jaguar XK and XF.
The Jaguar XF Very Different Way of Thinking ad narrated by Rock’nRolla Mark Strong.