|2010 Jaguar XF
|2010 Jaguar XF
By Alex Kramer
- Marvelous 385 hp 5.0 L V8 engine
- Exceptionally balanced suspension
- Classy and sophisticated interior
- Gorgeous exterior design
- Rear seating is a bit cramped
- Touchscreen display could be bigger
- Poor gas mileage, even for a luxury sports sedan
Some might say a car is just a machine, a combination of mechanical parts designed to get us from point A to point B. Although for most people this is the main point of owning a car, luckily for many the automobile embodies much more, capturing the soul through exquisite design and breathtaking performance. Otherwise we’d all be driving Toyotas… well, at least until recently.
Since 1922, Jaguar has captured the emotional side of automobiles with its lineup of legendary models and long involvement in motorsports. Unfortunately, the recent decade of Ford ownership saw Jaguar fall behind its Japanese and German luxury car rivals and threatened to permanently tarnish this venerable brand.
Now, with new corporate ownership and a fully revamped lineup, Jaguar is poised to reestablish itself as one of the premier luxury car brands. Introduced in 2008, the XF is Jaguar’s boldly designed luxury sports sedan that clearly breaks from tradition and makes no apologies for its desire to dethrone the German mid-size luxury car hegemony.
Despite being on the market for barely over a year, Jaguar decided to update the available engines in the XF for 2010. In addition to the 300 hp 4.2 L V8 base engine that carries over from last year, there are 3 all-new engines: a 385 hp 5.0 L V8 for the XF Premium, a 470 hp supercharged 5.0 L V8 for the XF Supercharged, and a 510 hp supercharged 5.0 L V8 for the top of the range XFR. All versions of the XF feature a smooth shifting six-speed automatic transmission with dynamic (sport) and winter modes, and manual paddle shifters.
The naturally aspirated 5.0 L V8 in our XF Premium test car is a honey of an engine. Appropriately smooth and quiet during everyday driving, but nail the pedal to the floor and you’ll get a nice growl accompanied by an effortless surge of acceleration. The XF Premium hits 60 mph in just over 5 seconds, which is pretty darn quick, especially given that this is just the 3rd most powerful engine in the lineup.
Due to series of wet, winter storms we didn’t have too much opportunity to play speed racer, at least not without activating the traction and stability control, but every time we dipped into the throttle to merge on the freeway or pass on a two lane country road, we were rewarded with plenty of smooth, satisfying power. Performance is so good that we wonder about the need for either of the supercharged variants. Unless you are actually going to the track every weekend, or just can’t go to sleep knowing that the neighbor kid in his Mustang GT might be able to keep up in a drag race, we’re pretty sure you’ll find the XF Premium to be plenty fast.
Suspension tuning in the XF Premium is another high point. It might sound a bit cliché to claim that a car’s suspension is perfectly balanced between comfort and handling, but the XF really does split the difference well, with both a smooth ride and impressive cornering composure. Small bump compliance is hampered a bit by the wide, ultra low profile tires, but not to the point that the ride becomes unpleasant, and out on the freeway the XF makes for a perfect long distance cruiser.
When you do find the need to throw the XF into some turns, the low profile, high performance Dunlops give plenty of grip. Although damp roads and generally poor visibility during our test period prevented us from really exploring the handling limits, even in the wet the XF is more than capable of charging down a mountain road with confidence. Only when really moving fast through the twisties does the suspension begin to feel a bit overwhelmed, although given the size of the car and the quality of the ride, we can forgive the XF for giving up a few points in ultimate handling control.
On the inside, the XF Premium pulls off another impressive balancing act, this time between being both classy and traditional, and yet also modern and sophisticated. Slide into the rich, brown leather seats and you are immersed in a tasteful blend of leather, aluminum, and wood. The dashboard is surprisingly uncluttered and if it weren’t for the touchscreen display you’d swear you were in a car from yesteryear, at least until you try to turn on the engine.
A modern smartkey keyless entry/start system means you never have to take the keys out of your pocket. Press the start button and the engine fires up, but that’s not all: the aluminum air vents also slowly rotate into place and the transmission selector control (which looks like an aluminum hockey puck) raises up out of the center console. These last two tricks are unnecessary and perhaps a bit gimmicky, but it looks impressive nonetheless.
All this electronic wizardry makes us wonder a bit about long-term reliability, especially given Jaguar’s reputation for less than stellar build quality. Buy a Jaguar and you better hope it comes with a free mechanic, or so the punchline goes. Fortunately for Jaguar, based on our experience with the XF, this reputation for poor quality should finally come to an end. Our test car appeared exceptionally well built, with excellent fit and finish, and zero creaks or other telltale noises.
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