EDITORS NOTEBOOK: 2008 Jaguar XF Supercharged, Day 3

Read Joe DeMatio’s comments on driving the 2008 Jaguar XF Supercharged.

Long-awaited first drive of the new XF, and I’m far more impressed by this car than I expected to be. The rave reviews everywhere have not been out of line. Superb ride and handling balance, with the best luxury-ride damping in the business; the car is simply amazing over rough roads. I sought out pockmarked pavement (easy to find in Michigan in April) just for the satisfaction of experiencing the way it soaks it all up.

Impressive body control; communicative, precise steering; and strong brakes with progressive pedal feel should fulfill even the pickiest BMW 5-Series driver. Excellent roadholding during my little country drive on Sunday morning, not that I was driving on the Angeles Crest Highway.

Amazing Bowers & Wilkins stereo. Love the retracting vents and the gearshift knob that rises majestically on start-up. Very tasteful woodgrain and French stitching. My friend Charley S, not a small guy, fit okay in the rear seat. Friend Jim Z, thinner, commented positively without prompting on rear-seat room and comfort.

Navigation/stereo/climate touch-screen interface is still a bit slow. Took me forever to figure out how to control the interior temperature, as the arrows are not labeled. Appreciate the three cup holders and the center bin, as it would accommodate wallet, sunglasses, cell phone, BlackBerry, garage door opener fob, pen, grocery list, and a travel mug with hot Darjeeling.

All switches and controls are tasteful, restrained, rich, and modern. Very pleasing interior is a home run even if the exterior is a mixed bag. That said, our black car with sharp 20-inch wheels looks pretty good, especially from rear three-quarter angle due to that thrusting C–pillar.

Engine and transmission are spot-on. Sport mode starts you in second gear. Paddle shifters, unlike so many, are intuitive: left paddle is to downshift, right paddle is to upshift. Makes sense to me. Supercharger whine is a bit subdued from past Jaguar efforts, and that is fine. Plenty of linear power here.

Really, really impressed.