Jaguar XF: One cool cat

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by By TOM VOELK / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 1:34 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 24 at 2:11 PM

Video: Driving Northwest: Jaguar XF Supercharged

There are cars that simply get you from point A to point B and others that make traveling the whole point. Jaguar's XF Supercharged is transportation, but it transcends that purpose. It's art. It's theatre. It's a sex symbol. If only we were all that multi talented.

Let me get a few things out of the way here. First, while I respect them, I have never been a gushing Jaguar enthusiast. Second, I am not a push over simply because a car is expensive. But the XF temps, taunts and teases me. Admiring its athletic physique only drives home the nagging fact that I need a big bump in pay.

A whole new breed of cat

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XF is a departure from the classically styled Jaguar icons. Men, women, children, even small animals all love the look of this machine. Its fresh new design direction is admirable. The current generation XJ sedan looks so much like the one it replaced the designers should have to stay after school for simply copying the old one. While there have been some complaints that the XF has a generic Lexus-like design now, the English sheetmetal has more of a European gravity to it. Casual observers are prone to think Aston Martin. In fact my only gripe is with the grille. Next to shapely bi-xenon headlights it's plain by comparison to my eye.

If you're lucky enough to be buying in this price range you'll be cross shopping the Audi A6, Mercedes E Class and BMW 5 Series. This particular car goes for $66,675. That includes the sole option of radar adaptive cruise control (unless you fork out extra for specialized paint/interior combinations). Nix the Supercharger and prices start at 50K. No doubt, this car is hardly inexpensive. But its allure, its overall elegance and performance make that price tag seem like a bargain.

It's what's on the inside that counts

Let me reassure you that this car is fast but I want to focus on the interior first. Hop into the driver's seat and you'll be surrounded by premium wood and a hand stitched leather instrument panel with a textured aluminum fascia. Stare at the start button and you'll find it pulses like a heartbeat. On start up, air vents rotate into place and a rotary knob rises from the center console. This dial controls the 6-speed automatic transmission and when people see its dramatic startup dance they'll pay you to shut the XF down and do it again. They will also play with the finger touch release for the glove box until you tell them to knock it off.

The steering wheel is heated. Supportive and supple leather seats are heated and cooled. Cupholders? There are 3 up front so staying well hydrated shouldn't be a problem. During moderate driving my favorite metal coffee mug tips and clangs against the sides because there's nothing to hold it snugly. At night, elegant aqua lighting makes the interior look like a character from the Disney movie Tron. Very cool. Very modern.

User friendly feline

XF is full of tech but it's all easy to use. There's a blind spot warning system in the side view mirrors and a back up camera complete with audible sensors help to keep the Jag's tail injury free. Full iPod integration and Sirius satellite radio are just two possible sources in the wonderfully done Bowers & Wilkins sound system. A personal note; my iPhone will not charge when connected but the Bluetooth handsfree system works flawlessly without so much as a glance at the manual. The touch screen interface gets my vote for best in the business. With its home button below the screen, you're never more than 2 keystrokes away from any menu.

Grrrrrrrrrrrr

Since my tester is the Supercharged model, this cat's 4.2 V8 heart pumps out 420 horsepower (413 lb-ft of torque). Opt for the standard XF and that V8 sans supercharger makes 300 horses (310 lb-ft of torque). Hit the throttle and there's immediate gratification. With its deep growl, Jaguar says the XF leaps from 0-60 in 5.1 seconds. Using the Dynolicious app on my iPhone brings up 5.0. To use the obvious analogy, this Jaguar is as powerful and agile as its flesh and blood namesake.

CATS, or Computer Active Technology Suspension reads the driving situation to eliminate body roll when slicing up curves yet softens up the shocks when cruising. There are no buttons to engage, it just works. What a concept. Press the checkered flag icon to enter Dynamic mode which alters the reflexes of the throttle, transmission and stability control (which can be totally shut down). Paddle shifters on the steering wheel give manual gear control. Anti-lock braking is very impressive though I find them a little grabby in everyday motoring. EPA rates fuel economy at 15 city, 23 highway. With my lead foot the Jag is getting 14 miles to the gallon. This cat gulps premium.

On the highway, XF is moderately quiet but not overly so. Generally the ride is creamy smooth, but sharp bumps can be felt because low profile tires are practically painted onto the 20 inch wheels.

Moving to the back

XF's rear seat is not all that big but an average sized guy like me will be fine. The center passenger has to deal with the drive shaft tunnel and they don't get a headrest.

XF would be an excellent road trip car which is why I use suitcase-sized packs of Costco bath tissue to check the usability of the cargo space. It's a little on the smaller size but hardly a deal breaker. 5 bundles of the 2-ply just fit. Split seat back releases are convenient. It's a pleasant surprise to be able to expand the trunk of a luxury performance machine.

One cool cat

XF was designed under Ford ownership. It will be interesting to see how Jaguar fares now that they have sold it and Land Rover to India's giant Tata conglomerate. Jaguar has always been about classic good looks and this modern interpretation is spot on. XF is a rare car that almost seems alive. It packs an emotional punch. If you're the kind of driver that only shops Audi, BMW and Mercedes stores, do yourself a favor and check out the XF. Blending beauty, technology and performance, the Jaguar XF Supercharged is a must look for buyers searching for luxury.

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