Sunday, June 7, 2009

Jaguar XF Supercharged: This cat is bad

Jaguar tried the S-Type and the results were, well, underwhelming.

Critics didn't like it much, consumers didn't buy it much.

Overall, it dragged down the Jaguar brand.

But the S-Type is gone now.

Replaced by something much better, the XF.


With the XF, Jaguar has built a larger, better looking and more powerful car that much more captures what the cat brand's heritage is all about.

We tested the XF Supercharged, which comes with a 4.2-liter V-8 engine that makes 420 horsepower. It gets 15 mpg city, 23 highway.

The XF offers a more aerodynamic style than you would expect in most four-door sedans.

The XF has the fancy qualities that Jaguar has become known for, such as the rotary dial on the console that rises when the engine starts - that's the gear lever.

Also witness the vents that emerge from the dashboard when the engine starts.

The powerful V-8 engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, but paddle shifters are mounted on the steering wheel if you want to take on the job yourself.

Acceleration is smooth and the supercharger exudes power, making the engine feel more like a V12 than a V8. Turbocharged engines offer a great kick when the boost kicks in, but supercharging offers a more steady application of power.
Handling is what you’d expect from a Jaguar. The brand is famous for its racing heritage, but its modern production cars offer a more practical ride.

Sure, the handling around corners is almost as good as a racing car, but it’s the ride quality that’s important.

Here, the XF is comfortable without being too soft, yet inspires the kind of confidence you need to enter almost any turn with confidence that you’ll exit out the other end in one piece.

Interior comfort is also pure Jaguar. There’s the right combination of leather and wood to let you know you’re in a luxury car with a sticker price of just about $65,000. The dash and instrument panel are laid out in a sensible line across the front of the car.

Instruments are classic Jaguar; white-on-black dials with clear markings. The navigation system shines brightly at night, but can be dimmed.
Getting into the glove box is another challenge the designers have thrown at us. There is no button. There is a small chrome design in the wood that spans the dash. Touch it correctly in the center and the glove box opens.

This is highly unnecessary; Jaguar, you can do better.

Three versions of the XF are available. In addition to the Supercharged, with a base price of $62,975, there is the Premium Luxury with a base of $55,975. That one has a naturally aspirated engine that makes 300 hp and has 19-inch wheels and tires.

The base model is the Luxury model, with a base price of $49,975 and the 300 hp engine and 18-inch wheels and tires.

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