IT’S LIKE the brilliant scene in The Thick Of It when Nicola Murray secures namesake Andy to front her Healthy Eating campaign, only for the idea to be dumped by Malcolm Tucker.
In a week of political carnage just like that TV hit, Jaguar have kept their cool to pull off an ace to launch their new XF Sportbrake.
That included a tennis match with Wimbledon champ Murray, Anthony Joshua, Jimmy Carr, Rob Bryden, Clare Balding and Tim Henman.
Unlike those fictional political buffoons in The Thick Of It, Jag know how to pull off a publicity stunt with some style.
Anyhow, underneath all that marketing gloss, what about the new XF Sportbrake?
Well it certainly lives up to the racket of the hype.
That’s no great surprise considering it’s been styled by outstanding design chief Ian Callum who has transformed the Big Cat from a brand for OAPs to VIPs.
The acid test for any load-lugger, first and foremost, is space.
In fact, measuring 4,955mm, the new Sportbrake is actually 6mm shorter than the previous model. However, its wheelbase has been lengthened by 51mm, to 2,960mm. This means that rear legroom has been improved and the rear load space increased.
It is actually smaller compared to German rivals in the load-lugging department. With seats up there’s 565 litres – five less than the BMW and a fair bit smaller than the market leader Mercedes E-Class.
But when the rear chairs are folded flat, the Jag can swallow a freezer thanks to 1,700 litres of space.
Yes a freezer. Now that’s cool. Obviously.
Add to that standard self-levelling air-sprung rear suspension (try saying that after a night on the Stellas), whatever you fill the car with, it will perform with steady aplomb.
Like its saloon brother, the Sportbrake has got a new lightweight aluminium chassis that’s lighter and stiffer than before.
But typical of Callum, he’s pulled off another practical motor with posing appeal.
It’s got a beautiful silhouette, sweeping lines, delivered with such elegance. This is how Jags are meant to be. In some ways it’s so much more athletic than the saloon.
Callum believes that Jaguar designs should look like they are moving when standing still. This XF Sportbrake looks like is permanently in Usain Bolt mode.
It’s not just a pretty face either. There’s all the latest safety mod cons to keep you on the road when the weather turns, well, British.
With the help of Land Rover, there’s a new All Surface Progress Control (ASPC), Adaptive Surface Response (ASR) and Intelligent Driveline Dynamics (IDD). However, if you think you’re really going to get stuck at some point down the line, you can option four-wheel-drive.
There’s four diesels and one petrol in the power options. The 160bhp 2-litre Ingenium diesel, churning out just 118g/km via a six-speed manual transmission at one end will be particularly economical.
For those who want to wheelspin away from B&Q, there will be an XFR-S or SVR flagship at a later stage.
Inside, it’s very much business as usual in XF style. You can spec a full-colour 12.3-inch TFT instrument cluster, 10-inch central touchscreen called InControl, which has the swipe and pinch functionality of a smartphone, 20-way adjustable seats and that massive panoramic sunroof.
But my favourite features are particularly amusing.
There’s a new gesture controlled sunblind which you wave your hand at like a wally to open and close. Oh, and there’s good news if you suffer from hayfever and/or flatulence, as Jaguar has incorporated a cabin air purification system for the first time that purifies the air, neutralises odours and removes bacteria by releasing magic e-ion particles into the air stream.
Clearly this Jag is a breath of fresh air…
Prices will start at a tad over £34,000 and on sale later in the year.
The battle of the exec estates just got tougher. Jag are well and truly in the thick of it.