So what exactly is JaguarDrive? Basically, it''s a glitzy new way of integrating all the stuff on the center console with electronic, flush-mounted controls, including a push-button starter (which the XK already has), buttons for shift/throttle settings, and a dial-type shifter that, at last, replaces Jaguar''''s ancient and much maligned "J-gate" shifter design.
In the C-XF, the shift dial is rendered in solid aluminum and set within concentric polished aluminum rings, all of which are embedded flush with the transmission tunnel. The rings around the dial spiral downward, one by one, about an inch once the driver presses the throbbing red start button (said to evoke the "heartbeat" of the car), leaving the dial right in the palm of the hand. The rings motor back up when the engine is shut off.
Now, while the multiple rings don''t appear to have translated into this development mule, it is clear that the dial will become a new Jaguarism. It also appears that the ignition button won''t throb, which is just as well. We also hope JaguarDrive''''s mounting piece is more lovingly integrated in production.
Importantly, JaguarDrive does not indicate the presence of a whole new transmission, but is merely an aesthetically appealing—not to mention Bond-like—way to actuate the current Jaguar automatic.
And that''s just fine, as the ZF-sourced six-speed is already one of the fastest-shifting manumatics on the market. Manual shifting is still done via steering wheel paddles, as with most manumatics and sequential manual transmissions. We also expect JaguarDrive to include several different shift/throttle settings also previewed on the C-XF: Dynamic, Track, and Launch, as well as, presumably, a "normal" setting.
In an interview with CARandDRIVER.com, Alister Whelan, lead designer for the C-XF concept as well as the production 2009 XF sedan, says that JaguarDrive is intended to dial—literally—some "emotional interaction" into the car.
As cool as JaguarDrive looks, it really isn''''t that complicated. "It''s not rocket science," admits Whelan. Nor is it particularly sporting in character. After all, it''''s but another variety of electronic shifter, the likes of which have sprouted up on everything from the BMW X5 to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The difference here, is that there will be some showy bits that move around when you start the car.
So is JaguarDrive tantamount to reinventing the wheel? No. But it''s a welcome departure from the loathed J-gate. And at the very least, it''s something that future XK owners can use to strike envy in the hearts of their golf buddies on Sunday, especially if one of them owns an Aston.