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Monday, April 29, 2013

Jaguar XF

The Jaguar XF is a luxury sedan with high-performance variants, available with V-6 or V-8 engines in rear-wheel and all-wheel drive. Ranging from relatively economical to massively powerful, the XF also relies on its unique style and Jaguar sensibilities when competing against other luxury sedans like the Mercedes-Benz E Class, BMW 5-Series, and Audi A6.

As a Concept C-XF, first shown at the 2007 Detroit auto show, the Jaguar XF broke from Jaguar heritage with clean, modern lines and a reinvented cabin with glitzy touches of chrome and aluminum--and a rotary shift dial replacing the J-gate shifter found in classic Jaguars. Most of the details made it into the production version, which bowed at the 2007 Frankfurt auto show.

In its radical transformation, the XF gained a svelte new shape that’s as modern and cutting-edge as any sedan in its class--and it sports an interior worthy of a Virgin Airlines cabin, with aluminum and wood trim and a techno-groovy shifter knob. If possible, the XF's cabin delights drivers even more than the exterior. It seems to have been lifted from the front desk at a chic London hotel.

In its first year, the XF offered a choice of normally aspirated or supercharged 4.2-liter V-8 engines, with 300 horsepower and 420 hp, respectively. In other markets, diesel engines were made available. 

In the 2010 model year, Jaguar upgraded the engine lineup for the XF to include 5.0-liter V-8 engines. The 300-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-8 carried over from the first-year sedan was joined a 385-hp 5.0-liter V-8, and in the XFR by a 510-hp supercharged 5.0-liter V-8. In 2011, the base 4.2-liter engine was discontinued, and the XF retained its top 510-hp engine, and added a 470-hp Supercharged model to the lineup. A six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters worked with all three.

Apart from its German competitors, the XF's performance ranges from blinding to lurid--a performance-perfect difference from the old S-Type. Steering is light but direct and full of feel, and the XF feels planted and well-controlled in most circumstances. The big criticism than can be leveled against the four-year-old XF is its rear seat space. It's truly tiny in back, with cramped leg space and no head room to spare for adults.

The Jaguar XF lineup gets some important updates for the 2013 model year that the automaker says will expand its reach in critical markets--the cold, snowbound ones where rear-wheel drive isn't always practical. The XF and the bigger XJ both add new all-wheel-drive models for 2013. In the XF, the system has a rearward power bias that can send power to the front wheels when slip is detected; in different driver-selectable modes, the torque split varies from 100-percent power to the rear or a 30:70 split front to rear in winter mode. It's offered only with a new supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 that nets 340 horsepower--it's effectively the replacement for the former base V-8 engine.

In addition, there's a new base engine in the lineup, a a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 240 horsepower. With an eight-speed automatic (also standard on other models), the turbo four's EPA fuel economy ratings are estimated at up to 29 mpg on the highway. The base model's 0-60 mph time is estimated at  just 7.5 seconds.

Infotainment and navigation in the XF have been updated—including new Visual Lane Guidance, Dynamic Zoom, and My POI features to make navigation screens more useful. Jaguar is also turning to Meridian, a British company known for high-end home audio components, for its new premium sound system.

And for the patient and power-hungry, there's more to come--a 550-hp Jaguar XFR-S is on the way for 2014, in limited numbers.

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