Thursday, April 24, 2008

Jaguar XF launched in Malaysia

Photographs of the new Jaguar XF look great but, still, they do not really do this big cat justice.
In the flesh, it’s much, much better. It’s positively stunning, a form that merges delicate exquisiteness and dynamic boldness together into a very seamless, flowing whole.

You might even call the new Jaguar XF radical, and why not? This is a car showcasing a very different design direction than that taken previously; if you think it makes its predecessor, the S-Type, look a bit stoic, you’re absolutely right. Revolutionary? Sure, though to the initiated there will be a number of visible retro cues borrowed from its predecessors.

Designer Ian Callum, in making sure the XF was still recognisable as part of the Jaguar family, borrowed not only points from the design language first seen in the current XK, but cleverly incorporated subtle Jag heritage cues such as the mesh grille shape and bonnet profile of the older XJ, the window line from the E-Type, and the proportions of the Mach 2.

Whatever you might choose to call it, the XF – which was unveiled locally last night at Sisma Auto’s Jaguar showcase showroom in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur – is one very cool cat.
The four-door luxury sedan, which will count the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class as its primary opponents here, features coupe style lines and a very lean looking disposition – this despite having the widest body in its class.

It’s also the stiffest structurally, utilising different kinds of steel combined with aluminium, magnesium, and boron steel to optimise weight and performance.
You’ll find lots of cutting edge innovation in the award-winning interior, which, incidentally, features the use of more wood than in any previous Jaguar, but this is done so creatively that it isn’t overpowering or in your face.

A single red start button, which pulses like a heartbeat, brings the beast to life. This activates the all-new JaguarDrive Selector, an industry-first rotary shift interface, which rises smoothly into the palm of your hand in a unique design feature called the Jaguar Handshake.

Other innovations include air-conditioning vents that present a flush dashboard surface until the ignition is switched on, at which point they elegantly rotate to the open position. Elsewhere, JaguarSense introduces touch or proximity-sensing control for overhead console lights and the glovebox release; the last is definitely novel in use.

Justin Weaving, regional business manager for Jaguar Land Rover, who was present at the launch, said that the XF marks the beginning of a new era for Jaguar.

“The reception that we’ve had globally, from the markets, the customers and the media, has been outstanding. We’re not expecting it to be a flash in the pan. It is very much part of our business plan of obtaining sustained growth,” he said.

In Malaysia, the XF will be available in three variant forms – a 3.0L V6 (RM488,888), a 4.2L normally aspirated V8 (RM599,888) and a blisteringly quick 420bhp 4.2L supercharged V8 (RM728,888). Propulsion is channelled through a six-speed automatic transmission.

There have been 15 pre-launch bookings, all made sight unseen and without confirmed pricing, according to Syed Khalil Syed Ibrahim of Sisma Auto.

These will be the lucky ones to get their hands on one quickly. With more than 12,000 pre-launch orders globally for the vehicle, it isn’t surprising to find that Jaguar is struggling to cope with demand.

“Clearly, demand is outstripping supply, but we are looking to see what we can do to rectify that, not just for this year but also going forward,” Weaving said.

Syed Khalil added that, locally, expectations are that after mid-year, production allocation should come up to a more unconstrained supply of vehicles.
“This year will be slow, but we’re aiming to get to about 10 cars a month by the end of this year, effectively around 120 cars a year from then,” he said.
He also added that the XF should help Sisma achieve double the volume sales this year.
“With the S-Type, we were doing about 80 to 100 units in total a year. I think this proposition is a more compelling, more dynamic one, so we’re looking at not only existing Jaguar loyalists as customers, but winning new ones as well.”

Judging by the form, this cat should have be no problem winning lots of new friends.

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