DETROIT – It was less than 20 degrees for most of my week-long test drive of Jaguar’s XF sports sedan. That’s was fine. But when it started snowing, the fluffy stuff illuminated a glaring omission. The XF does not have an all-wheel-drive; at least not in a model that I could find.
For some folks who live in inclement places, that lack could swing purchasing decisions away from the Jaguar XF. It’s important to a more or less tranquil ownership experience in snow-filled winter months and that would be a shame. I had to get pushed out of somewhere that only a rear-wheel-drive vehicle could get stuck.
Other than that very correctible equipment gap, the XF was very impressive. Jaguar is a great brand but over the years I think consumers have forgotten what it stands for – sleekly styled, luxurious cars that are rooted in performance.
The XF’s face was dominated by a mesh grille emblazoned with the cat badge. A long nose, side gills and a swooping roofline gave the car a coupe-like silhouette. It was shod with 19-inch wheels and it had a dual exhaust system. Eighteen- and twenty-inch rims are also available.
But what I found most pleasurable about Jaguar’s XF sedan was the interior and the way it worked and what was under the hood. The inside of the car was softly dominated by burled walnut veneer covering the base of the center stack and aluminum on the face of the dashboard and what looked like leather that topped it.
I was so pleased with the front seats and the cockpit that I never climbed in the back seats to see how they fit. Jaguar says the XF is a five passenger sedan. Like most cars in this class, it can probably carry four people in comfort and five in a pinch.
Anyway, the XF had a dial gear selector that receded flush into the center console every time the ignition was turned off. The climate vents also rotated into the dash everything the ignition was turned off and then rotated out every time the car was started.
It occurred to me that Jaguar obviously has a lot confidence in its engineering prowess because those parts that rotate and recede with every engine start and stop were prime spots for electrical glitches over time. We’ll see.
I had the 2009 Jaguar XF. It featured a 4.2-liter V8 that made 300 horsepower and 310 foot-pounds of torque. The engine was mated to a six speed transmission. This powertrain was really smooth.
The suspension was especially impressive. The ride was firm but I remember some rough washer board surface. I could hear it when I drove over but I couldn’t’ feel it. The XF kept the rough ride outside.
Among the creature comforts my XF had were a rear view camera which helped me back out of my driveway. It also had heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, and Bluetooth that turned my cell phone into a hands free car phone. The audio system featured satellite radio, a cord for an iPod, a USB port and an auxiliary port. And of course, there was a touch screen navigation system that controlled it all.
However, what I found particularly pleasing was the blind side warning system. Placed in the side view mirrors, using amber lights the system would come on to let me know that there was a vehicle in my blind spot on either side.
What’s more, Jaguar recently announced that it was upgrading the XF’s engine family. The car will get a supercharged 510 horsepower V8 and a normally aspirated version of that engine that will make 385 horsepower.
My test vehicle was priced at $58,850. That placed it squarely in the mix with offerings from German and Japanese luxury brands. And with the attributes and driving characteristics I found in the XF, the new Jaguar can certainly compete at that level.