I did my bit as a media commentator last night, by appearing on Radio 5 Live, which was picking up on Jaguar's announcement that the first XF rolled off the production line yesterday.

Radio 5's questions were revealing of the state that Jaguar has got itself into. The first one was "is it a good car?". I find it interesting that, in 2007, the metropolitan media think that a car-maker may actually turn out a bad, or even uncompetitive, car.

The second question was more depressing, suggesting that Jaguars are still really cars for football managers and the like. This shows just how much Jag's 1970s image has managed to stick around. I suppose the TV series Minder didn't help, and the phrase "the Jag belt" (describing an area that is both affluent but very conservative and middle brow) is still occasionally heard.

Of course it was that image problem that the "New Jag Generation" ad campaign,­ followed by the much-copied "Gorgeous" series, aimed to dispel.

The problem was that Jaguar's advertising was well ahead of its products. Just what was appealing to younger drivers about the X-type, S-type or XJ?

It's been a long, hard struggle for design boss Ian Callum, but the 1960's XJ mould has finally been smashed with the XF. I spent two hours talking to Callum in Tokyo last month, and another 30 minutes while standing around a real XF at the Autocar Awards the other week, and it's clear just how much effort has been expended on pushing the styling into a new century.

One of the things that will sell this car to sceptics is the view you get following it down the motorway. The rear three-quarter angle is just outstanding, especially as it reveals the car's pronounced barrel sides. The XF is destined to stand out on wet day on the M40.

However, even before the XF rolls into the showroom, Jaguar and Land Rover will be sold, probably into foreign ownership. Newspaper reports say that the Trades Unions are backing the bid by Indian car-maker Tata, and I'd join them on that. And with The Fiat Group waiting in the wings "to offer assistance," there could finally be a large light at the end of the tunnel.

Will the next-generation Maserati Quattroporte be based on the aluminium XJ chassis? Stranger things have happened.

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