Paris Hilton offers a perfect example of how subjective beauty is. In my humble opinion, ironed-flat blonde hair and splotchy skin stretched over an under-nourished skeleton does not a beautiful woman make.
Hilton possesses no inherent talent — unless being rich and stupid is a talent these days — yet people around the world would sell their souls to be seen with her. The rest of us, though, are completely unimpressed by the talentless twig.
It was during the recent launch of the Jaguar XF that motoring scribes — who hardly ever agree on what is and isn’t a good-looking car — realised that while we all had different ideas about beauty, we were all in agreement about the XF being a classically beautiful car.
United Kingdom-based chief designer Wayne J Burgess, who was on hand to take us through the four-year design process, sporting a slick hair-do and cool threads, he doesn’t look like the fuddy-duddy designers of old.
Burgess was the chief designer of another gorgeous vehicle, the Aston Martin DB9.
I didn’t expect much from the XF. In fact, I prepared myself for disappointment because the last Jag I was exposed to was the X-Type.
I found it overrated and not as capable as the big three Germans dominating the luxury sedan segment.
Thankfully, Jaguar has realised that mass production isn’t the way to set a brand apart from the pack. So the XF heralds a new departure into what Jag executives call the ‘premium segmentâ€.
In a nutshell, Jaguar no longer wants to sell as many cars as rival manufacturers, but it does want to focus its energy on making Jaguars more exclusive.
They couldn’t have chosen a better car to punch home their new ideas, because exclusivity is exactly what the new sporty, luxury saloon is about.
From the short, powerful nose to the elegant sloping roof, the XF looks both athletic and comfortable.
Inside the twin-needle stitching and wooden trim makes you feel as though you’ve been upgraded to first-class on a Cathay Pacific flight, while the electric seats ensure you settle into the perfect driving position in no time.
The XF has a start or stop button in the central console where you also find a rotary-dial gear selector. Start the car and the gear dial rises up out of the console, while the covers on the air vents roll open as if a slumbering beast is stirring to life.
Standard features include an electric parking brake, rain-sensing wipers, automatic climate control with dual zones, ABS, six airbags, traction control, dynamic stability control and a multifunction steering wheel.
The engines available are the 3,0-litre V6 (with 175kW and 293Nm), 4,2-litre V8 (with 219kW and 411Nm) and the range-topping 4,2-litre V8 super-charged, which develops a healthy 306kW of power and 560Nm of torque.
Despite its good looks, the XF, particularly the super-charged version, displays a menacing side to its otherwise composed nature when you put the pedal to the metal.
Thanks to Jaguar Drive Control, the suspension stiffens or softens depending on the road condition, so with throttle input this translates into a much sharper ride with extraordinary road-holding.
Steering feedback is spot on and the stiffer body shell makes high-speed driving quite pleasureable.
Ranging in price from R499 000 to R783 850, exclusivity doesn’t come cheap, but this cool cat happens to be worth every cent.