Successor to the S-Type sedan, the new XF midsize four-door was developed while Jaguar was still a subsidiary of Ford Motor Company. Early in 2008, however, Ford sold the British Jaguar organization to an Indian automaker - the same one that produces the $2,500 Tata car, which gained a measure of publicity when it was announced.
Obviously, the Jaguar XF is a far different breed of motorcar. Like most Jaguars that preceded it, this sedan exudes sophistication along with sportiness. Jaguars, to the discerning eye, have long been designed to appeal to ladies and gentlemen who prefer civilized behavior and unerring refinement to the garish shapes and raucous antics that some high-end automobiles have been known to display.
One exception to that rule was the X-Type, which debuted for 2002 and never managed to catch on, largely because it was perceived as a fancified version of a plain Ford model, not a true Jaguar.
Jaguar's recent philosophy has been "Beautiful, Fast cars." With the XF, Jaguar promises the "visual excitement of a coupe," but with ample space for five inside. On this score, in particular, the XF appears to have struck a victorious chord.
As on Jaguars of the recent past, the XF comes with a choice of two powertrains: one supercharged, the other not. Without the supercharger, the 4.2-liter V-8 generates 300 horsepower. That model comes in 4.2 Luxury and 4.2 Premium Luxury trim. Supercharging boosts output to 420 hp. Both engines use a six-speed automatic transmission, with the option of manual-gearchange pedals mounted on the steering wheel. Rather than the usual gearshift lever, Jaguar's automatic works by making choices on a rotary dial, mounted on the console. The company claims this JaguarDrive Selector is an "industry first."
With the XF, Jaguar has taken a substantial step forward compared to the previous S-Type. The new model emits lovely sensations both inside the cockpit and on the road, with a well-defined feeling of luxury.
Performance with the non-supercharged engine is more than sufficient to satisfy most drivers - especially those who are the likeliest Jaguar buyers. The XF suspension is just stiff enough to remind the driver of its sporty nature. The new rotary gear selector seems strange at first, but that impression lasts for only a minute. Unlike some modern methods to control an automatic transmission, it's actually a sensible approach.
A more detailed report on the XF will have to wait until Tirekicking Today gets one for a longer test-drive, in early summer.
Prices start at $49,975 (including destination charge) for the Luxury sedan. A loftier $62,975 is needed to drive home the Superhcarged sedan. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates fuel economy at 18-mpg city and 26-mpg highway for the regular engine, and 17/23 mpg for the Supercharged version.
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