The new Jaguar XF.

When Ford Motor Company announced early in 2008 that it was selling both Land Rover and Jaguar to Indian conglomerate Tata, I was overcome with an irrational fear. Would the stately XJ now have oversized taillights like an Indica? Would the new Discovery sport the same demure, non-descript front as the Xenon? Would we see nano-sized Jaguars vying for the smart car’s place in history?

But then the XF was launched, the design exactly the way it was initially shown, and all my concerns disappeared. Tata suddenly seemed a particularly well-suited parent, especially considering its huge cash reserves. At the recent launch of Jaguar’s 2010 Model Year XF and XK, which Mambaonline attended, the future of Jaguar in particular, became much clearer.

Under Tata ownership, Jaguar has changed its focus, image and positioning to remain sustainable while keeping its heart in tune with its rich heritage. These changes have seen Jaguar become a niche manufacturer of vehicles that are more expensive, but also more exclusive. To achieve this, the focus now lies on building beautiful fast cars with intelligent design and legendary performance that speaks to those with an independent spirit, especially those who consider themselves a modern, stylish aristocracy.

The 2010 Model Year (or 10MY) changes relate predominantly to all-new engines for both the XF and XK ranges. On the XK, changes also include more dramatic looks (thanks to subtle exterior tweaks), a highly improved interior (with the acclaimed JaguarDrive Selector now standard) and an advanced lightweight aluminium body structure that builds on and combines everything the new and revitalised Jaguar brand stands for.

The XF range has been instrumental in revitalising public perception of the Jaguar brand, and as such benefits most from the upgrades. With many significant trim and specification changes and the addition of a brand new top model, it is only the 2009 Car of the Year-nominated 3.0 V6 petrol model (in Luxury and Premium Luxury specification) that remains unchanged in the range.

The most important addition to the XF range is a brand new 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo diesel engine with a choice of two power outputs, replacing the 2.7-litre of the previous range. The more powerful 202 kW engine in the Diesel S gives the XF outstanding levels of performance, with acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h taking just 6.4 seconds (1.8 seconds quicker than the 2.7-litre model it replaces). Maximum speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h.

The new Jaguar XK.

The 177 kW engine also offers new levels of performance, allowing the XF to reach 100 km/h in 7.1 seconds. Maximum speed is 240 km/h. Both models have a claimed combined fuel consumption figure of 6.8l/100km (a 10% improvement on its predecessor) and a CO2 emissions rating of only 179g/km.

While our launch route didn’t provide much testing ground for improved dynamics, the new diesel engine impressed with its superbly refined willingness, not to mention its silence when stationery. Gear changes are smooth as silk and one can’t help but feel like royalty in the XF’s luxuriously appointed cabin.

The second new addition to the Jaguar range of engines is the all-new AJ-V8 Gen III engines which Jaguar claims is the most efficient engine they’ve ever produced. It delivers significantly more power and torque than the previous generation of engines and provides a whole new level of performance whilst keeping fuel consumption and carbon emissions down.

The XF 4.2 Premium and XK8 have both been upgraded to feature the new, naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 engine that produces 283 kW of power and 515 Nm of torque, with the XF now featuring 29% more power than the outgoing model, as well as 25% more torque. Acceleration to 100km/h takes 5.7 seconds and is electronically limited to 250 km/h. Acceleration in the XK is down to 5.5 seconds.

In the supercharged XKR, power and torque is increased to 375 kW and 625 Nm respectively, taking it to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds, also electronically limited to a top speed of 250 km/h. The increased power combined with the lightweight construction architecture assists in keeping fuel consumption figures at the same level as the outgoing models, while carbon emissions are down between 1% and 2% on the outgoing models.

Driving the XKR remains an experience to be savoured, especially when taking in the entire package of 10MY. The upgraded interior is simply magnificent (although I wasn’t fond of the camel-colour of our test model), with both power and acceleration simply sublime. Not to mention that extra-special Jaguar growl of the V8. The car remains a head-turner of note, not to mention aurally orgasmic.

It is however the supercharged XFR that takes centre stage in the XF range as replacement of the XF 4.2 SV8. Shifting the balance towards dynamic performance, the XFR is immediately recognisable thanks to unique new 20-inch wheels, a new front end design with revised chrome air intakes and ‘Supercharged’ bonnet louvres.

However, if it weren’t for the four polished exhaust tailpipes, an ‘aerodynamically functional’ boot lid spoiler and side sills and discreet ‘R’ badging on the car, the ‘fastest Jaguar ever built’ (it clocked 363.2km/h during testing in the USA, without its electronic limiters of course) could easily have been mistaken for an ‘ordinary’ XF. While there’s value in underplayed sportiness aesthetically speaking, the XFR looks much tamer than the beast it is.

Fitted with the same supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine used in the 10MY XKR, the XFR accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds, with acceleration from 80km/h to 110 km/h – typical overtaking speeds – in a mere 1.9 seconds. Compared to the supercharged V8 it replaces, XFR has 23% more power and 12% more torque.

The new Jaguar XF.

Driving the XKR (and XFR in theory) is now an even greater pleasure thanks to Jaguar’s acclaimed 6-speed transmission that offers excellent driver control and virtually undetectable gearshifts. The experience is heightened in both models thanks to Active Differential Control and Adaptive Dynamics, with the electronically controlled differential and suspension system work together to optimise traction under hard acceleration and cornering.

The XFR also adds a faster steering ratio and uses the XF’s largest ventilated disc brakes, although every version of the XF with the new, more powerful engines features uprated braking specification. Unfortunately, no XFR’s were available to drive at launch as Jaguar SA has a quota of only 22 models for 2009, with 19 of them destined for the retail market.

If the 10MY changes to the XF and XK ranges are anything to go by, the all new XJ due in 2010 will be something truly remarkable. It’s rare to find a finished product that perfectly displays the manufacturer’s intent. While the XK has always found itself in a very small, very unique

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