The Jaguar XF
As stated on this forum before, Jaguar produces cars that have a firm foothold in the public consciousness.
In particular, it's assumed they're fast, comfortable and well built.
Now, simply being fast, comfortable and well built is not the sole preserve of Jaguar. Quite a significant proportion of the German car industry is dedicated to that single proposition.
What Jaguar did was to associate its brand with that aspect of Britishness that was associated with high quality — the Rolls Royce effect but with a sporting element.
In truth of course, like every car made in the entire world, every Jaguar, including the new XF that I drove in Conlan's in Rathangan recently, has a bit of its own heritage thrown in with a pinch of German engineering and Japanese mass production.
But then, this is a premium product and that gives you an extra factor of comfort, innovation and general loveliness.
That's why the seats are electric, the automatic gear changer is a circular selector that you simply turn left or right.
It's an eight speed, with paddle shifters and an understated (yet competant) dashboard.
There's an awful lot going on with this car, away from the eyes of the driver, although occasionally you can feel it coming through when you push it.
The computer is working flat out adjusting the inputs of engine and braking power, suspension to the wheels.
Typical of most new cars these days, especially in the marque market, there is a central console that can do the divil and all — from the radio, to your phone, climate control etc etc.
The XF, like the XE that I reviewed a few weeks ago, is a rear wheeled drived 2 litre diesel.
You can select various drive modes from frugal and environmentally friendly, to a more sporty and aggressive (and obviously less environmently friendly).
Naturally enough, you can imagine the effect this has on the driving experience, from anaemic to robust.
This car has a lot of alumium in it, which is intended to make it nice and light. There is a degree of greater rattle than you'd expect, but the upside is better fuel economy (and/or faster).
The driving principal behind these latest Jaguars is the driving experience — which I found quite sporty. The rear wheel drive really gives it a more confident feel, while the steering is nice and twitchy.
On practical levels, this is a slightly larger car than its predecessor, making it a realistic option as a family car. Lots of room in the back and in the boot.
I say that, knowing of course that many of the people willing to shell out €53,630 to drive the R-Sport version that I drove recently, aren't overly bothered by how many shopping bags from Tesco they can fit in the back.
There are numerous options available in this car, with price tags (€46k to €78k) to match.
For instance, manual transmission is available on the less expensive ones - although if you're happy to go with manual, you'd be advised to check out the XE.
This car is also available with a 3 litre engine which, as you can well imagine, would offer fewer mpgs, but 300 bhp, which ain't too shabby.
To arrange a test drive, you can ring Conlans on 045 524345 or go to www.conlans.ie.