2012 Jaguar XF: Just a Four-door Camaro, Really
September 14, 2012
I really like Jaguars, but it?s hard for me to get my head around this supercharged Jaguar XF. A 470-hp monster seems kind of pointless when people expect a Jaguar to deliver elegant lines, a dash of chrome, and those cool, ice-blue instrument colors.
And then I remember the first time I saw the Group 44 Jaguar XJ-S at a Trans-Am race in 1977.
Bob Tullius, a Kodak salesman from Virginia, had spent much of the 1960s and early 1970s racing a succession of worthless British sports cars with spectacular success thanks to his own press-on driving, spectacular preparation by a small group of innovative engineers and mechanics, and the sponsorship of Quaker State oil. His success later led Jaguar back to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the 1980s for the first time in about 20 years and helped the company rediscover its racing heritage.
The first time I ever saw the XJ-S, the quality of the presentation made it stand out. Part rubbed-on stock bodywork, part tube-frame chassis, part wide racing tires and part hand-built V12 engine, the XJ-S represented everything American hot rodders had learned while racing during the 1960s. Of course, it also looked about as big as a house compared to the Porsche 911s against which it was racing.
As we used to say, this Jaguar might be just a kind of Camaro under the skin, but it was a really, really good Camaro. At the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year, the Jaguar factory guys ran the 1978 version of Tullius? XJ-S up the hill just to remind the Brits that a Jag can be capable of more than just an expression of affordable luxury.
Maybe if we painted up this XF in the white-and-green racing colors of Quaker State, I?d get the whole 470 hp thing. After all, Tullius? 5.3-liter V12 dynoed at 550 hp, so we?re talking about the same power more or less.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com