Jaguar XF sedan is less of a departure from tradition than you may think
Jaguar is embarking on new territory in many ways with an all-new vehicle in the XF and new ownership. Both may prove to be challenging. The test with the new XF is nearly as important as the success of the ownership. In fact, each is dramatically tied to the other. I have not had the opportunity to interview any of the new players connected to Tata Motors Inc., owners from India. However, I have heard from many sources that they are enthusiastic and ready to take Jaguar into the next decade. The XF, on the other hand, I have had the opportunity to examine, drive and discuss with designers and engineers. From my first experience, I can enthusiastically say the folks at Jaguar have done their homework to bring a rewarding vehicle to market. It remains to be seen if this will be enough to keep Jaguar in the black. The XF exterior design is a departure from the traditional Jaguar affair. Yet from the front, the bullet like nose, complete with a mesh-screen grille and contoured hood, says Jaguar elegance. The graceful lines allow air to flow over the windscreen and off the rear deck with the ease never before seen on a Jaguar. With a drag coefficient of 0.29, the XF is the most aerodynamic Jaguar since the 220 XJ, which to some was a pure racecar.While the elegance and grace of the exterior make the first impression, it's the interior with which owners must be the most intimate. Here, as in the past, Jaguar has excelled. The finely double-stitched leather is some of the best in the world. The fit and finish is without compromise. Sliding into a Jaguar passenger compartment is a most satisfying experience, complete with small features such as the ambient lighting with switches you just wave your hand in front of to activate the light. Simple, but oh so graceful. High-tech advances have not been forgotten in this traditional automobile. With ignition key in pocket, slide into the driver's seat, close the door and the start/stop button on the center console begins to flash red as if there is a beating heart hidden within. Push the button and the beefy V-8 under the hood purrs to life as a large round silver knob rises up from its hiding place in the center console. This is the electronic shifter control for the 6-speed automatic transmission. Turn the knob to "D" and you are off on a driving adventure. The "S" position signifies the sport setting for the transmission and allows the driver to use the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters to manual select gears. One additional advantage here is that you may choose to leave the selection in drive and still use the shift pedals, but the transmission will revert to drive mode shortly after the manual input. There are two versions of V-8 power available for the XF. The base version is a naturally aspirated 4.2-liter 300-horsepower, which I am sure will be adequate for most drivers. This V-8 responds with just a touch of throttle and quickly jumps to speed. However, if you desire more performance, Jaguar has the supercharged 420 hp V-8 that is sure to quell any itch for power you might have. With a slight whine from the supercharger, the V-8 will get you up to freeway speeds in the blink of an eye.
Ron Moorhead, a nationally syndicated automotive columnist, can be reached at [email protected]