By Gary Chan
- Tuned suspension feels great
- B&W sound system
- Verbal navigation instructions clear and accurate
- Engine – smooth as silk
- Navigation UI not intuitive and as easy to use as some systems
- Resonance from either exhaust or transmission: a droning sound generated between 1250 -1750 rpm. It was quite noticeable and my wife asked me while riding in back, “What is that sound?”
- Small trunk
- Rear seat legroom
When I got the call that I would be testing a Jaguar XF, I had to think about what an XF looked like as I had not seen or read reviews on that specific model. Seeing it in person, wow, I was amazed by its beauty and character. The last Jag I drove was the XKR with another 120 hp and a throaty exhaust. How would this compare? To say that I was excited to find out is an understatement. Coincidentally, as the new James Bond movie is coming out shortly, I felt like a Double-0 agent driving around in the Jaguar (minus all the cool spy features).
With the key fob in my pocket, foot on the brake and finger on the start button, therein begins an elegant sequence of events. With the motorized vents pivoting to the open position, the rotary shift knob rising from its flush resting position, the dash and center touch screen illuminating as the engine comes to life. At first, I thought the rotary knob was a bit gimmicky, but its tactile feel as well as the analogous graphical representation at the center of the instrument panel makes it simple and intuitive when selecting gears. The interior is a departure from the stodgy wood clad English interiors of the past opting for clean sharp lines with aluminum panels and beautiful aluminum center console buttons. Pulling away from a dead stop, the Jaguar accelerates effortlessly and silently. It’s not as aggressive and throaty as the supercharged XKR, but it still moves with authority. The most fun was had while moving at highway speeds and flooring it: the transmission either dropped down a gear if necessary or the engine torque simply pushed the car as the wind pushes a kite. Accelerating onto the freeway from on-ramps made me grin from the power I unleashed from under the hood. One annoying sound is mentioned in the “cons” section; I couldn’t tell if it was the exhaust or the transmission. Either way, it was sadly noticeable in a car that approaches $60k.
The car is quiet inside (except for the slight resonance mentioned above) and well insulated from the outside world. If you pop the hood, as with most luxury vehicles, a bevy of plastic covers hide the powerful 4.2L V-8. With so much plastic, you have to look hard to see any real part of the engine. The seat leather is supple, and the seam stitching on the dash leather adds a bit of old-world class. There were several times that I did not use enough force to actually close the trunk. What amazed me was that with the trunk still slightly ajar, all I had to do was apply a little pressure with the palm of my hand onto the trunk lid, and the trunk closed. With my current car, you have to lift the trunk lid open again at least half-way and practically slam it down for it to lock. Nice touch (pun intended!), Jaguar!
Interior Comfort and Ergonomics
Did I mention supple leather? Oh yes, I already did. Anyways, the fully powered, supple leather seats are a breeze to adjust with two memory positions to remember all your settings. Whether I was driving for 30 minutes or an hour-and-a-half, I never grew tired of sitting. Besides, when it was hot and I was stuck in traffic, I simple turned on the seat cooling which pushed cool air through the seat. Highly effective! On the cool mornings, I used the seat heaters. They both use the same 3-bar graph differentiated by red (for heating) and blue (for cooling). The more bars, the hotter or cooler it got. The steering wheel is also heated if you so desire.
Driving positioning is excellent with the ability to tilt/telescope the steering column with the push/pull of a 4-way pivoting switch on the steering column.
The touch screen is a bit slow (the windows slide back and forth), and some “buttons” are on the lower-right or bottom of the screen requiring that I look up and over the lower edge of the screen to see where my finger was located before selecting the function. For the most part, the various menus are easy to use, and the navigation system is very accurate with directions. The “home” button under the touch screen was nice to have once several layers deep into the menus allowing me to step back to the top menu. The smooth aluminum buttons all were clearly labeled with text of colored translucent icons making it easy to understand functionality. The horizontal burled walnut trim piece bisecting the center dash blended nicely with the aluminum bezels and buttons adding a touch of sophistication and luxury.
The dual-zone climate controls worked wonderfully. Especially when there are two people in the car who have different comfort levels.
The Bowers and Wilkins audio system is amazing with crystal clear details and clean bass. With audio drivers said to be the same used at the B&W Abbey Road recording studio, the quality of the entire system is quite evident regardless of the music. Switching on the Dolby PLII setting, I anticipated an artificially modified effect, but instead was met with a spacious soundstage that did not feel manufactured.
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