Jaguar C-XF concept car (2007) first pictures

Published: 03 January 2007

Is the Jaguar C-XF really the new S-type?

Pretty much. Think of it as the 2008 S-type plus 30% show sparkle and you're pretty much there. Tone back the concept car details (that fastback coupe roofline, the showy 21-inch alloys, the cunningly hidden door handles) and you're left with Jag's new exec. The C-XF concept, which will be officially shown at the Detroit Motor Show next week, is the first Jag saloon to be designed under the watch of design chief Ian Callum. And the moment you set eyes on it, it's plain to see that retro is out. So, too, is the old S-type badge. The new model, due to be shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show this autumn with sales starting in early 2008, will be called the XF. Read on to find out why Jaguar is finally shedding its pipe 'n' slippers with this important new car.

Okay then, tell me the highlights of the Jaguar C-XF

Just look at the concept car's shape. Today's S-type has matured into a great driver's car, but has been hampered by a design firmly looking over its shoulder. By contrast, the C-XF is most certainly staring forward. The front end is a bold statement of intent. Out goes the apologetically small, oval grille, replaced by a wider, rectangular intake with a large growler - Jag's cat badge on the nose - slapped in the middle. There are no old-fashioned, twin roundel lights, either. Shapely, thin new lamps swell around the wings, nearly reaching back to the front wheelarch. The XF's is a face you won't forget in a hurry.

Isn't there a hint of Aston Martin about the profile? Again!

It's hard to look at the C-XF and not feel there's something of the DB9 in its rear haunches. The arcing roofline and muscularly swelling rear three-quarters all ape the latest Aston Martin look. And we said the same when we first saw the new XK sports coupe. Maybe this should could come as no surprise; design boss Callum was the man responsible for the DB7, among others, forging Aston's current signature look. When asked by CAR about the C-XF's passing resemblance to the DB9, he retorted: 'And what's wrong with that?' Fair point. To read Gavin Green's full design story on the C-XF, buy the new February 2007 issue of CAR magazine.

So how much will the C-XF change for production?

Every concept car has a purpose: some are thinly veiled production cars, that transfer to the showroom barely changed (think Jag's own XK concept); others are slightly more futuristic (this C-XF); while others are there merely to explore and titillate (the doomed F-type). Sadly, this means that the C-XF will be toned down quite significantly for production. For starters, the XF proper will gain a higher roofline, to accommodate four adult passengers comfortably. But the emphasis will be on sportiness, not spaciousness. If you want roomy, buy an E-class. Jaguar is now talking of making proper sports saloons again - in the mould of its classic MkII from 1959 (or the Mercedes CLS of today).

What's under the bonnet?

The new XF will carry over the S-type's platform. Cash-strapped Jaguar had to cut corners somewhere, and skimping on an all-new platform is as good a place to start as any; after all, there's little wrong with the way today's S drives. This does mean that early plans to build the XF in aluminium, like its flyweight XK sibling, were shelved. A shame. The concept car is powered by Jag's barn-storming 420bhp 4.2-litre supercharged V8 - which will make it to production. Without a restrictor, Jag reckons it would top 180mph for supercar-slaying performance. The bulk of sales will be made up of more everyday motors: the excellent 2.7-litre twin-turbo V6 turbodiesel, and 3.0-litre V6 and 4.2 V8 petrols.

What's the C-XF like inside?

You've guessed it by now... the C-XF doesn't have a leather 'n' wood trad cabin. This concept is all about recreating the Jag brand for the 21st century, and the snug four-seater cockpit is dripping with modern touches. As is de rigeur these days, there's brushed aluminium trim aplenty, but the doors and centre console are trimmed in burnt poplar, with a glorious, tactile charred effect. Its matt black sophistication contrasts neatly with the shiny metal, cool blue lighting and carbonfibre-effect leather trim. There are gadgets galore, too. The door handles pop out from hidden recesses when they sense your hand, and a complex infotainment system emerges from the dash with a swipe of the hand. It adds up to a deliciously cool, modern, luxurious feel.

Jaguar C-XF: the verdict

The C-XF indicates that Jaguar is embracing modern design. Its current financial woes are in no small part due to the stuffy image of its bread-and-butter cars: an X-type that's too old-man for its younger target audience; an S-type that's old-hat compared with the avantgarde 5-series and polished E-class; and an XJ that looks little different to its predecessor. If Jaguar can retain the flavour of the C-XF in the production XF, then it will surely succeed. Yes, it needs to fix the packaging and make the business case stack up, but this is surely an executive car that you'll ache to own.

Jaguar C-XF: the verdict

The C-XF indicates that Jaguar is embracing modern design. Its current financial woes are in no small part due to the stuffy image of its bread-and-butter cars: an X-type that's too old-man for its younger target audience; an S-type that's old-hat compared with the avantgarde 5-series and polished E-class; and an XJ that looks little different to its predecessor. If Jaguar can retain the flavour of the C-XF in the production XF, then it will surely succeed. Yes, it needs to fix the packaging and make the business case stack up, but this is surely an executive car that you'll ache to own.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

Comments