The new Jaguar XF might be the prettiest large sedan in the luxury segment.
The redesigned second-generation car is more mature, more sophisticated and more focused, Jaguar says. But that’s not to say that the first model, launched in 2007, was a mere cockney flower child.
The redesign rendered more clean-and-lean sleekness that continues the British theater of a rising shifter dial and rotating dashboard vents. The complete re-engineering of the car gives it about the same size footprint, but the wheelbase is 2 inches longer for a bit more back-seat room. The roofline is lower, but there’s more headroom. Trunk space is huge at 19.1 cubic feet. And by using more aluminum, the XF is lighter, ranging from 132 pounds for the rear-drive model to 265 pounds for the all-wheel drive model, which helps fuel economy.
There are two strong supercharged and direct-injection V-6 engine choices (eliminating the four-cylinder model) and a deliciously smooth eight-speed automatic transmission. This summer, there will be a diesel engine option: a 180-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder with 318 foot-pounds of torque.
There doesn’t seem to be much difference between the gasoline engines: one has 340 horsepower, the other 380, but both have the same 332 foot-pounds of torque at 4,500 rpm, as well as the same fuel economy ratings of 20 mpg city, 30 highway and 24 mpg combined on the recommended premium fuel (the AWD gets 20/28/23 mpg). The base engine gets to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds; the up-level engine gets there in 5.1 seconds. The buyer can decide if the faster acceleration is worth the additional $2,000 or so.
I found 340 horsepower to be satisfying and responsive, particularly in Sport mode, which no doubt affects fuel economy, but sharpens the leaping-cat experience. And then there’s the whine of the supercharger that gives a “Hell yeah” battle cry. Both engines also have automatic stop-start at idle, which can be switched off (because it can be annoying in stop-and-go traffic).
Sold in four trim levels in rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, starting prices for the V-6 models range from $52,895 to $66,695 for the XF S AWD model. Pricing includes the $995 freight charge from England .
Today’s tester is an XF 35t Sport with rear-wheel drive, a V-6 engine and 340 horsepower. Pricing starts at $61,645; it was $72,285 as tested. Among the options was the Driver Assistance pack, $3,100, which added the electronic drive aids of adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, automatic parking assist (parallel and perpendicular) and traffic-sign recognition. Sign recognition is very handy to display speed limits on the navigation screen when the driver doesn’t see one posted along the road.
Standard equipment includes: blind-spot monitor, lane-keep assist, heated steering wheel, moonroof, rearview camera, navigation system and 380-watt Meridian audio system. And there is Jaguar’s expanded EliteCare warranty coverage, which includes free scheduled maintenance for five years or 60,000 miles.
The interior design is functional and there are good sightlines. The front sport seats are full and supportive with 10-way power adjustment. The touchscreen has functions for audio, climate, navigation and phone, but there are some buttons to access frequently adjusted elements, such as volume, fan and vents.
The back seat is positioned to maximize legroom and footroom, but it may not be appealing for long-distance travel. The doors open wide, providing unrestricted entry space. The $2,700 Luxury interior package adds an electric rear sunshade, manual side-window shades and four-zone climate control, which gives back-seat occupants heated and cooled seats and fan-speed controls. The microsuede headliner (charcoal gray in the tester) is handsome, but the leather-trimmed upholstery is not as soft and supple as may be expected of a $70K Jaguar.
Trunk space is deep — almost 4 feet long — but shallow, at about 16 inches tall. The back seats fold 40/20/40 with release pulls in the trunk. There are also grocery bag hooks and a 12-volt plug.
The flavor of nationalities among these luxury brands is becoming more generic, but there are subtle distinctions between them. The XF compares to the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Cadillac CTS, Lexus GS and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
What is very noticeable in this generation of the XF is that it has lost the pretense of haughty luxury. Instead, it has the stance of a sport sedan, but is quite luxurious and, as the Brit engineers say, can be grabbed by the scruff of the neck and wrung out on a great driving road.
Mark Maynard is online at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find photo galleries and more news at Facebook.com/MaynardsGarage