Jaguar's ethos on embracing new technologies that enhance the driver experience has long been that they should surprise, delight and inform, rather than impose themselves or bombard the user with excessive information or choice.
"C-XF is a showcase for innovative technology, some of which will feature in one way or another on the next generation of Jaguar cars," says Ian Callum. "Every Jaguar interior should have a sense of fun, but we also recognise that technology should only be there when you want to use it. Yes, there is a sense of theatre about the innovations we have chosen to highlight on the C-XF, but there is also an organised simplicity that brings order and structure to every system."
Perhaps the most theatrical of the features Callum references is the starting sequence. Sink into the C-XF driver's seat and a jewel-like Power button pulses on the centre console - its rhythm representing the 'heartbeat' of the car. Press the button and beneath your hand concentric aluminium rings spiral downwards to allow the new circular JaguarDrive Selector to nestle directly in your palm. Then, as the engine starts, a beam of blue light radiates from the centre of the instrument panel, chases its way around the cabin and finally envelopes the rear seats. Overhead, an electro-luminescent panel spanning the entire rooflining bathes the interior in a muted blue light to give a feeling of ambience and space. Outside, a burst of blue light from the front grille marks the moment the car's engine fires into life.
"We want Jaguars to feel like they are coming alive when you start them," says Interior Designer Alister Whelan. "The starting sequence achieves this through the combination of movement and light, creating a sense of theatre and delight. It is a development of the ambient illumination we introduced on the R-D6 concept car and the best example yet of how you can create a mood within a car."
Visually coming to life when being started is one thing, but sensing the requirements of an occupant without physical touch is a further, significant leap forward again. The introduction of a new prototype technology, called JaguarSense, sees four sensors hidden within the doors react to the sweep of your hand as it passes over them. Once activated, the inner door handles - previously hidden - motor outwards ready to be used.
A fifth sensor, located in the facia, responds to the proximity of your hand to reveal an infotainment screen that lies flush within the aluminium front panel. The sequence continues with the centre section of the dashboard rotating 90 degrees to display an advanced Dual View screen which is capable of projecting two different images to the driver and passenger simultaneously. For example, the driver can view satellite-navigation instructions while the passenger watches a DVD-based movie.
The Dual View system works by utilising a parallax barrier to divide light into individual viewing cones for the passenger and driver, allowing each front-seat occupant to view their own personalised display. The Dual View system, which has been developed for Jaguar by mobile media specialists Alpine, uses a 262,144 colour amorphous silicon TFT screen.
Also contained within the rotating panel are air vents that, like the screen, are hidden from view until the driver requires them. This is in complete harmony with the overall sophistication of the driver environment. Behind the single-spoke steering wheel with 'floating' gear-selector paddles sits a dial cluster that has been inspired by the cockpit of an airplane. The main central dial - the rev counter - has graphics reminiscent of an artificial horizon instrument from an aircraft. The dials also respond to the way C-XF is being driven. If the driver puts the transmission into sporting Dynamic mode, the rev counter motors outwards (in the way a long lens on an SLR camera operates), ensuring its increased prominence.
Driving C-XF in a more relaxed manner would allow occupants to enjoy an audio experience of the highest quality. Visually stunning honeycomb speaker panels are set into the rear parcel shelf and front facia top. Designed by Jaguar and created by leading British loudspeaker manufacturer Bowers & Wilkins, the beautiful cat's eye-shaped designs are aesthetic yet functional works of art.
"Bowers & Wilkins is renowned for its audio engineering expertise," says Julian Thomson, Head of Advanced Design, "Its dedicated pursuit of the perfect loudspeaker has led to many design innovations, including the use of materials such as Kevlar and diamond. It is no surprise that B&W speakers serve as the 'audio reference' speaker at London's famous Abbey Road Studios.
"The speaker panels provide a perfect aesthetic while serving a unique function. The honeycomb Micro-Matrix ensures rigid mounting and at the same time improved speaker performance. They are beautifully crafted pieces of engineering."
All of these features are prime examples of how the introduction of new technologies can be implemented by blending simplicity of design with practical innovation - and more importantly they give an early preview of what lies ahead for Jaguar customers.