Jaguar’s designers and engineers were very conscious of the serious mistakes made in the late 1990s. Poor styling, a low rent interior and its budget US sourced running gear hobbled the 1998 retro styled S Type. The 2000 ‘compact’ X Type was undermined by retro styling and the fact it was based on the ageing front wheel drive Ford Mondeo chassis. The 2003 XJ had a world class alloy chassis and running gear, but looked like its 40 years old predecessor. And the company was forced to scrap its planned F-Type mid engined roadster. It was a combination of disaster that had ensured Jaguar utterly failed to hit its annual 200,000 sales target. Jaguar’s new design chief lan Callum who arrived in 2000 was determined to forge a new look and new start for the company. He was aware that Jaguar’s customer were older more conservative and the company was failing to pull in the younger, more adventures buyers, essential for the company’s future survival. Callum started the process of transformation by building a series of radical concept cars, including the R coupe and wild, three door RD-6 sports coupe. In 2007, Jaguar showed the C-XF concept, which was the blueprint for a new mid size executive model. The production XF appeared months later.
It was a striking four door with the look a coupe. The old Jaguar styling cues had been abandoned, especially in the cabin, which now looked high tech and futuristic. Under the skin was the S Type chassis, which over a decade had been radically upgraded into one of the crispest and most sporting around. It looked as if Jaguar had finally re-invented itself for a new century.