The Cat is back

The Cat is back

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Maybe it’s an image left over from the streets of Bulawayo in the seventies. But when I think of a Jaguar two things come to mind. Spoked wheels and and a cracked rosewood dashboard with the varnish peeling off .

And while the lines of the new Jaguar XF, which seem to flow so naturally from that hallmark mesh grille, might out shade the new E Class and outgoing 5 Series, it was the interior I wanted to get acquainted with.

Not much rosewood here. It’s a sea of brushed chrome with a modern – and unusual – layout. Press Start and the air vents snap open along with the gear selection knob suddenly arising from obscurity.

A tad over the top I thought. But quickly changed my mind when my 16-year-old daughter observed “That’s so cool!” Who wants to be known as And, after all, it has been voted as the Best Premium Car interior of 2009.

The evolution from rosewood to brushed chrome is no doubt entwined in the Jaguar history…starting out as the Swallow Sidecar Company in 1922. That name was changed to Jaguar after World War II because of the alarming connotations of the initials “SS”.

Trying to trace the milestones in the Jaguar story from then on is beyond the capabilities of a failed history scholar. Let’s just say it was floated on the stock market by the Iron Lady in the mid-eighties, Ford made a successful offer to shareholders a few years later and then Tata Motors took over the reins on the very first day of 2008.

And while it might jar slightly to hear that a marque that holds warrants from the Queen and Charlie has it’s HQ in Mumbai, the Reputation Institute ranks Tata as the 11th most reputable company among 600 global corporates. That’s worth talking to the plants about!

Enough of the ethnic fusion…what is the big cat, the five-litre V8, like to drive? It’s different…very different.

OK, so you want a bit more detail. I’d call it majestic power. It’s not wheel spinning kick-ass acceleration. It’s more of a deep seated rumble that gains momentum in a parabolic fashion, suddenly whisking you to a 100 in well under six seconds.

And, of course, in comfort befitting HM or Manmohan Singh, with forgiving suspension (even on our potholed roads) and a friendly instrument cluster that doesn’t need a full day’s study of the owner’s manual.

It is one of those test cars that you just don’t want to hand back.

Anybody got 4 641 740 rupees to spare? It’s only R755 000…

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