What's New for 2009
The 2009 Jaguar XF is an all-new luxury sport sedan that replaces the aged S-Type.
There's a certain classy aspect to some things British -- the understated elegance of an English Tudor home, the BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones or even just an afternoon snack of tea and crumpets. Then again, not all English entities are quite so grand -- the Spice Girls or a rush-hour ride on a packed Tube train, anyone?
Thankfully, the 2009 Jaguar XF falls into the former category, but it also represents the legendary marque's new direction. Mirroring modern Britain itself, Jaguar now seeks to blend tradition with the latest style and technology. Before one goes on with the new, though, they have to jettison the old, and the midsize XF sedan replaces the S-Type, a car that never quite pushed all the right buttons. The unloved X-Type is also being phased out, leaving the XF to serve as both the brand's entry-level model as well as a key component for re-establishing Jaguar's premium status with a younger set of buyers.
The Jag XF rides on a stiff new structure that shares some suspension components with the sporty XK. Its crouching stance is emphasized by a coupelike roof line that sweeps to the tail, fastback style. Some may argue that in profile, the XF looks like the Lexus GS series, and that the nose, with its wide-awake headlights and squarish grille, is somewhat quirky. But overall, most would agree it's a handsome sedan that impresses one more in the steel than in photos.
As part of Jaguar's upscale push, you'll only find a V8 under the hood. There's nothing really new here, as the engines and transmissions are shared with the XK. Even so, 300 or 420 horsepower is nothing to complain about, and Jaguar claims that even the less potent engine is able to shoot the XF to 60 mph in just 6.2 seconds. The XF's suspension is tuned slightly more for a plush ride with respectable cornering ability than for hardcore apex clipping, but still easily qualifies for sport sedan status.
Of course, as a sport-oriented midsize luxury sedan, the 2009 Jaguar XF is entering a pretty tough segment. The list of competitors is full of luminaries, including the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Infiniti M45, Lexus GS 460 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Even James Bond would have a tough time infiltrating a group like this. And most of these models offer something the XF doesn't -- the option of all-wheel drive, an advantage for those who have to deal with slippery weather conditions.
It's a minor setback, however, and overall we think the new Jaguar XF stands proud in this segment, which is something its dodgy predecessor never could. It deserves a place on your "to drive" list if you're considering a luxury car. It's got the performance and coddling features, and its undeniable presence could very well make Jaguar cool again.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Jaguar XF is a midsize luxury sport sedan that comes in three trim levels: Luxury, Premium Luxury and Supercharged. The Luxury comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition, a sunroof, leather upholstery, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, auto-dimming mirrors, full power accessories, 10-way power front seats and a split/folding rear seat. Rear parking assist, Bluetooth connectivity and a premium sound system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack are also standard.
The XF Premium Luxury adds 19-inch wheels, heated 16-way power front seats, upgraded leather, a navigation system with voice activation, and keyless ignition/entry. The Supercharged adds a more powerful engine, 20-inch wheels, larger brakes, an active suspension (dubbed "CATS"), a power rear sunshade, cooled front seats, bi-xenon headlights, front park assist, a rearview camera and an upgraded audio system with six-CD changer and satellite radio.
Stand-alone options include a heated steering wheel and active cruise control, while most of the upper trims' features can be had on the lower ones via various packages.
Powertrains and Performance
The Luxury and Premium Luxury are powered by a 4.2-liter V8 that makes 300 hp and 310 pound-feet of torque. Power flows to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic that can be shifted manually with steering-wheel-mounted paddles. Jaguar claims a 0-60-mph time of 6.2 seconds for these models.
The Supercharged features, you guessed it, a supercharged version of that V8 that makes 420 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. It should be enough to trim the 0-60 sprint down to 5.1 seconds.
Antilock disc brakes, stability control, active front head restraints, front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are standard on all XF models. The Supercharged adds a blind spot monitor to the list.
Interior Design and Special Features
Unlike most cars in its class, the Jaguar XF rejects the cockpit-style interior theme for a more spacious environment. The seats are well-shaped and come up high enough for proper thigh support, while the soft armrests are located for use, not style. Not that the XF is lacking in the latter area -- in Jaguar tradition there is plenty of finely finished wood trim, as well as modern handsome metallic accents and cool blue lighting for the instruments.
When you enter the XF, the start button mounted in the console pulses red, as if to indicate the pulse of the lively machinery you're about to awaken. After you fire up the engine, the unique dial that controls the transmission rises out of the center console into the palm of your hand. There's a touchscreen interface for the audio, climate and navigation system, so unlike many of the XF's competitors, no console mouse is required. Although it's a sleek sedan, the rear doors are wide for ample access and there are nearly 38 inches of rear headroom and 36.6 inches of rear legroom. The trunk is also quite roomy at 17.7 cubic feet.
With either engine offered in the 2009 Jaguar XF, acceleration is swift and smooth, with perfectly timed up- and downshifts furnished by the six-speed auto. Use the paddles and the automatic blips the throttle on downshifts, just as an expert driver with a manual gearbox would.
Underway, the XF exhibits a smooth and hushed demeanor but there's a stronger connection with the mechanical soul of the car than expected. There's barely any nose dive when the brakes are applied, for instance, and the level of communication between car and driver when cornering is impressive. Rest assured, though, that comfort is still of paramount concern. The XF's refined ride can take you 300 miles and deliver you still feeling fresh after your journey.