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Jaguaaaaargh

I like cars, and I particularly like good-looking cars. So when Jaguar showed off its XF concept, saying that the finished car would look very much like it, I promptly added it to my “probably won’t ever be able to afford one, but want one want one want one” list – something I’d never do with the S-Type, the exceptionally ugly car it replaces.

Here it is:

What they said

Note the aggressive nose, the raked headlights, the purposeful stance and the sculptured lines. And then forget about them, because here’s what the actual XF looks like.

What they made

It’s like a builder showing you the plans for a really nice extension, and then you discover he’s just glued a B&Q shed to the side of your house. Although to be fair, they have carried across some crucial details from the concept – so for example, it clearly has four wheels.

More pics at Jalopnik…

33 replies on “Jaguaaaaargh”

There’s something very wrong when a new jag makes you go “meh” and the new mondeo is beautiful.

Either that or I’ve got no taste :)

The back’s nice – very Aston – but to use a technical term, the front hums.

> a new jag makes you go “meh” and the new mondeo is beautiful.

Especially weird since Jaguar is now part of Ford.

> the US market, where cars have to look like housebricks.

In the 70s and 80s, maybe. The new Lincoln Town Cars are quite lovely, and Chrysler’s designers have just gone mental.

Having just got back from Germany, we want a Mercedes B-Class. Like, now.

>>the new mondeo is beautiful.

Not in white, it ain’t. There is one outside my window and it mings mightily.

It’s not just the lighting. The concept car has a much squarer look, with noticeable wheelarch flares, menacing headlights, aggressive chin slots, a more radical rear window line, etc etc. Even the vent in front of the door is purposeful.

The production model is just soft and rounded. All the aggressive bits have been smoothed off and tweaked away, from the blandly featureless rear quarter panels to the goofy upward sweep of the front turn signal lenses The Lexus looks more aggressive than the production model.

Not in white, it ain’t.

Yeah, white’s a bad colour for cars. Despite what the car mags say about the current Golf GTI (apparently white is *the* colour. It hums!)

Worst I’ve seen was a bentley drop-top – the one that looks like the Rolls – in lemon yellow.

The concept car has a much squarer look

I agree. Despite regularly proving otherwise, I’m not always daft – I do know that there’s a big difference between concept and production, particularly when pedestrian safety regs kick in – but when I saw the XF concept I felt exactly like people *should* when they see a jag. It’s hard to articulate, but it’s the same thing you feel with Aston. A combination of envy and “holy crap, that’s gorgeous”.

Whereas the production XF looks like a Toyota. Toyotas are great cars, but they hardly stir the soul (same applies to lexus, times ten). I think the problem is that it just doesn’t look like a jag. The concept did, IMO, albeit in quite a futuristic way (better than than the S-type, which really is hideous). But this doesn’t look like anything, really. Maybe it’ll be different in the metal. Some cars just aren’t photogenic. But I doubt it.

It looks like a Prius.

*retches*

And it *can* be done. The current Audi TT is a beautiful car and there’s not a huge difference between it in the metal and the concept. Same for the big Audi off-roader – Q7? – (which I don’t particularly like – it’s like Darth Vader’s helmet – but it’s pretty faithful to the concept).

Jaguar is now part of Ford.

Not for much longer. Tata is the current favourite from the list of possible new owners.

Chrysler’s designers have just gone mental.

Yeah, there’s some nice stuff coming out of the US just now. Probably too late to save the US motor industry, though.

The ones to watch are the Korean firms. They’ve nailed the basics, now they’re moving on to styling – and recruiting some of the big brains from the west to do it. Kia in particular are poised to do to the japanese what the japanese did to Detroit…

I love the triangular exhaust ports, though I suspect they quadruple the cost of a new exhaust. But it does what a lot of new cars are doing: minimises the size of the rear windscreen in order to look cool, forgetting that the driver might occasionally need to look through it. We hired an Audi A3 a couple of years ago. Not a bad car, but they might as well ditch the rear-view mirror and reversing is largely guess-work.

> The current Audi TT is a beautiful car

Right up to the point when you look over your shoulder and smack your head off the side of the cockpit.

A lot of cars are designed for shortarses.

“In the 70s and 80s, maybe. The new Lincoln Town Cars are quite lovely, and Chrysler’s designers have just gone mental.”

On the other hand, General Motors saw fit to manufacture this:
http://www.edmunds.com/media/news/column/letterstotheediors/02.jul/02.pontiac.aztek.f34.500.jpg

I’m still of the belief that Europeans see cars as things to be driven, while Americans see them as machines for consuming petrol. Of course, a lot of it is historical. European manufacturers were set up by racing enthusiasts, who considered hilly, twisty roads a thrill and a challenge. The US is strewn with long, straight, flat roads – so why bother making something that handles? It was the Yanks who invented cruise control, and they all drive automatics (“automatikfahrer” is an insult in German). The American response to the elegantly styled and precision-engineered sprts cars that Europeans made was, of course, the “muscle car” – a tank, panel-beaten into the shape of a penis, with an engine that could shift the QE2 and operates in gallons per mile fitted. We have the Le Mans 24hr, they have drag racing.

But, than again, I take the bus everywhere.

A lot of cars are designed for shortarses.

Tell me about it. I spend much of my time in the car leaning away from intrusive pillars and with my head stuck in the sunroof space (the space you get when you open the lower, sun-shade bit).

they might as well ditch the rear-view mirror and reversing is largely guess-work.

Hence parking sensors and rear-view cameras. Although you usually have to buy some kind of luxury package and high-end satnav/ICE system to get them.

Manufacturer: Er, reversing that would be tricky, no?

Designer: Don’t worry, I’ve included sensors and cameras.

Manufacturer: Oh good, we can make them very expensive optional extras, and get the salesmen to point out the car is virtually unusable without them! [Evil laugh]

>…We hired an Audi A3 …

I had an A3 for about 3 years and didn’t have a problem.

There’s an R8 in the Audi garage next to here. Really nice.

A lot of cars are designed for shortarses.

Which is why I suspect I’ll never have an Aston.

That, and the fact I’m skint.

> The American response to the elegantly styled and precision-engineered sprts cars that Europeans made was, of course, the “muscle car” – a tank, panel-beaten into the shape of a penis, with an engine that could shift the QE2 and operates in gallons per mile fitted.

To some extent. On the other hand, those elegantly styled sports cars are generally elegantly styled by five-foot-two Italians who wouldn’t dream of moving their elegantly styled doors or engines out of the way for anything so crass as a driver, while American cars are actually comfortable over distances greater than twenty feet.

> (”automatikfahrer” is an insult in German).

Yet it’s German engineers who have developed probably the best automatic boxes. Go figure. Anyway, having just got back from driving around Germany, I really must disspell this popular myth that (a) German drivers are any good and (b) autobahns are any good. I honestly do not exaggerate when I say that Germans consider 2 metres to be an appropriate and reasonable stopping distance at upwards of 240kph. And a lot of autobahns are so badly surfaced that you have to shout over the car’s juddering — they’re even worse than Glaswegian roads, and that’s saying something. Slip-roads and junctions are appallingly designed — I saw the small car behind us shunted off the road by an artic entirely due to bad road design. Germany makes you appreciate just how well British motorways are built and maintained and how good British drivers are.

In short, that a particular type of driving is looked down upon by Germans does not count against it.

Mind you, driving in Belgium and the Netherlands makes Germany look good.

>…Germany makes you appreciate just how well British motorways are built and maintained and how good British drivers are.

And coming back here from France makes you think the exact opposite.

“those elegantly styled sports cars are generally elegantly styled by five-foot-two Italians who wouldn’t dream of moving their elegantly styled doors or engines out of the way for anything so crass as a driver, while American cars are actually comfortable over distances greater than twenty feet.”

You’re not comparing like with like there. Mercedes-Benz and Lincolns are both capable of accomodating someone of your (greater than average) height. A Dodge Viper is as cramped inside as a Lamborghini, but the Lambo is a better designed and built car.

“And a lot of autobahns are so badly surfaced that you have to shout over the car’s juddering”

It must depend on where you go. I travelled all over Bavaria a month or so ago (by bus), and you could have played billiards on some of the roads. Belgium seemed okay, but I was only passing through. When they’re quiet, Britain’s motorways are fantastic (and so they should be, they cost enough to build).

I honestly do not exaggerate when I say that Germans consider 2 metres to be an appropriate and reasonable stopping distance at upwards of 240kph

Yes, and? Your point being?

Don’t you know that all Germans are as good drivers as a certain Herr Schumacher and a have a reaction time of 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 milliseconds?

Knowing all that 2 metres is perfectly sufficient.

>Belgium and the Netherlands

Belgium only introduced a driving test in the early to mid seventies, so there are still plenty of people around who never had to pass one (and presumably those pople are now the ones sitting next to their kids giving advice while their kids practice)

> You’re not comparing like with like there. Mercedes-Benz and Lincolns are both capable of accomodating someone of your (greater than average) height. A Dodge Viper is as cramped inside as a Lamborghini

I’m not making the comparison you think I am. What I’m thinking of is the likes of the Fiat Multipla, which is supposed to be a big tall people-carrier-type thing, not a sports car. The ceiling’s so low I can’t even sit in one. And I’m not that tall. A fairly standard mid-range American car is built for room and comfort; the European equivalent is built for parking in overcrowded cities. Just catching taxis in both continents drives home the point: sitting in the back seat of a US equivalent of a Mondeo or a Passat or whatever is just a totally different experience. It’s actually comfortable.

> I travelled all over Bavaria a month or so ago (by bus), and you could have played billiards on some of the roads.

When they’re newly done, yes. But they get left unrenewed for a lot longer than we’d tolerate in the UK. And buses have bigger wheels and better suspension than cars.

> Belgium only introduced a driving test in the early to mid seventies

That explains a lot, actually.

>That explains a lot, actually.

I remember that when I was younger every time there was fog on the continent there seemed to be a pile up involving 90 – 100 or so cars on a motorway in Belgium.

>>Depends whether you go to Paris while you’re there.

I was too scared to go anywhere near Paris. I’d been warned already.

>>…a pile up involving 90 – 100 or so cars …

If it isn’t foggy they can only manage to hit about 70 or so.

“I’m not making the comparison you think I am.”

Ah, right – I see what you’re saying now. To be fair though, you *are* tall – nearly a foot above the average for UK males (which is fractionally taller than the average for US males).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_height

Also, your example of the short Italian wouldn’t explain Swedish or German cars. To be honest, I’d say US cars are built for fat people, rather than tall people.

IIRC one of the big US manufacturers got into trouble over an ad campaign which said that Japanese cars were cramped because they were built to accomodate Japanese people. With the exception of the 550cc class (which, AFAIK, are rarely exported outside Japan), I don’t know if that can be proven to be the case.

But we’re digressing here majorly. My original point was that US cars look like housebricks, and I stand by it ;-)

Obviously I’m nowhere near as tall, but I have problems in italian cars too – particularly fiats, which I just can’t get comfortable in. Car mags talk about pedal offsetting, but whatever it is I find I’m sitting in a really weird position when I drive a Fiat.

Swedish cars are brilliantly comfortable – I think german ones aren’t squidgy enough. My ideal car would be a Saab 95 estate that drove like a Golf GTi diesel. Not exactly a supercar, but it’d do me fine.

> your example of the short Italian wouldn’t explain Swedish or German cars.

Yes and no. The Italians set the standard for a lot of European car design, and non-Italian manufacturers often hire Italian designers. And there’s a long tradition of drivers willing to compromise on comfort in exchange for cool curves and powerful engines, which is why so many cars get away with way-off-centre steering wheels, for instance — a crippled back waiting to happen (and not waiting long), but Kevin doesn’t care because of the funky alloy wheels.

Also, I have to exclude Mercedes from my complaint. We’ve got an A-Class, and it is unbelievably roomy, even in the back, even at my height. Presumably, all their others are even roomier.

Fiats, interestingly, are designed from the driving position outwards, unlike most other cars. And their driving position is designed by chiropractors and other postural experts. But there’s a difference between posture and height, and, yeah, sometimes they’re too short. Especially the Multipla.

> To be fair though, you *are* tall

Yes, but whether that should be an issue depends on context. When it comes to towering over most people, I’m very tall. But if you’re designing a car or a shower or a doorway or a pointy ceiling light or something, am I so tall that you shouldn’t consider that anyone my height might ever use your product? No. In that case, it’s not about averages, it’s about likelihood. In that context, I’m not that tall, because there are plenty of others my height.

American cars are designed so you don’t have to take your stetson off to drive them.

Speaking as a pedestrian, can I just say that the traffic in Paris is nowhere as bad as, say, Leicester.

Also speaking as a pedestrian, I don’t like the French crossing lights, where a red man means “Not safe to cross” and a green man means “Might be safe, unless the car’s coming from behind you.”

The curved brim of a Stetson was introduced to accommodate the use of the automobile, fact fans. Any Stetson you see with a curved brim in an old Western is a mistake.

“the insult “automatikfahrer” refers to people who can’t use a manual, not to people who can but choose to use an automatic.”

In other words, Americans.

So, to sum up – European cars are too small, except for Swedish ones. And some German ones. It’s all the fault of short-arsed Italian designers (but not in Italy itself, because they employ “chiropractors and other postural experts” there), except when it’s the punters’ fault for “compromis[ing] on comfort in exchange for cool curves and powerful engines”. And American cars look like housebricks.

Glad we got that sorted ;-)

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