Jaguar's S-type-replacing Jaguar XF has already drawn about 3,000 orders in Britain.

"The fact that there is a buzz being generated around the XF is good and the translation of that into pre-orders has exceeded expectations," Richard Parry-Jones, chief technical officer of Jaguar's parent, Ford, said, adding that the Jaguar company is feeling confident as opposed to complacent.

"Without doubt. If it sells as expected, and all the early indications say that it will, it will be profitable for Jaguar and a very important stepping stone in the road for recovery for Jaguar profitability."

The new model, he said, is a key element in the Jaguar building process. "There is increasing confidence and momentum at Jaguar. People know where they are going, know how they are going to get there and have the clear sense of confidence and direction."

The design of the XF has got people talking and Parry-Jones said of even those not immediately bowled over by the car: "The longer they are exposed to it, the more they warm to it.

"It's a 'grower', there are intriguing features to the design which you can't really work out when you first see it. It's not a completely, conventionally pretty car. There are a lot of design elements that are not predictable and those unpredictable elements take a little longer to understand."

UK customers will start taking delivery of new XFs next March. Built at Castle Bromwich near Birmingham, it will be exported to 66 markets.

Parry-Jones noted: "Obviously, a lot of our customers come from current S-Type and we are also looking for those who are currently buying German premium brands to move across.

"It's a much more interesting proposition as a design statement that the previous Jaguar so I wouldn't be surprised to attract more design-aware people from the German brands. The other obvious source of sales is people who are trading up from smaller premium vehicles and looking for a bigger vehicle and making more of a significant prestige statement."

See also: INTERVIEW: Ford's Chief Technical Officer, Richard Parry-Jones