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EXCLUSIVE: All you need to know about Jaguar's new XF

Date: 12 December 2007

There has never been a more important car in the history of Jaguar than the new XF. UK managing director Geoff Cousins talked Paul Barker around the saloon that could make or break a company

Paul Barker: How important is the new XF to Jaguar?

Geoff Cousins: The importance of XF is well documented - this vehicle is critical to Jaguar and Jaguar's future.

The new XK has been very successful at showing the design language and the way we want the cars to be styled outside and in; we've taken back Jaguar's strength - being stylish and the quality of the interior. This car continues that but it's more important because the XF is bang in the middle of the D/E [executive] segment. It's the base of the Jaguar brand going forward.

The XF will be the mainstay of the product range - this is the one that's got to make it work - but the XK has given us the confidence that if we get the product and business model right, it can work.

What will attract business drivers?

I'm assuming business drivers are like all drivers and will be subject to the emotional pull - it's a sexy-looking car. You'll be able to drive long distances and still be smiling when you get out. It looks good inside and out, and it's comfortable. There's a sense of theatre.

How important was it to change the look compared with the S-type?

Everyone's said the styling is different, dynamic and younger. We had to break away from the image of an old man's car - this needs to be a conquest car.

What sort of interaction have you had with residual value experts?

When we developed the spec we sat down with Cap and Eurotaxglass's and asked what kit would be important from the point of view of resale in three years' time. We asked, who's going to want to buy a car without satnav in three years' time? So satnav, Bluetooth and an automatic gearbox are all standard on every model, and that's a hell of a plus.

The task we've got with fleet managers is explaining how our cars relate to the competition - the extra spec you get compared with the others and how much it costs to spec rival cars to our level. We've got to communicate to fleet buyers to look past the monthly fee.

We've also spent time going through the SMR and there's a 15% improvement over the S-type, while the 2.7 diesel only emits 199g/km of CO2. When you put the emotional tugs to a car with a rational argument, I think we've got a good proposition.

Why did you engage with the RV guides so early?

Jaguar used to do it - it makes perfect sense. These people have influence over the sales of your vehicle and they should have input too. We talked to them ahead of XK, but with the XF we started talking to them 18 months ago.

Did they recommend any changes?

Not really, but I don't know if that's because they were part of the process from the beginning. I think their main concern was would we conduct business like we said we would - keep supply in balance and don't do anything that would detract from the RV. We also had a couple of days with the contract hire guys, talked them through the spec and how we would do business - don't expect incentives on this car.

How difficult will it be to communicate the spec advantages over your rivals?

That was part of the reason for bringing the contract hire and leasing guys in. The field force will spend time with them, we'll be working with our bigger clients and there will be direct mail campaigns. We'll be doing everything we can to explain it.