The idea that the Jaguar XF is a sexy, evocative car was cemented for me when I drove to lunch with two friends. They stroked the suede headliner, reposed on the leather seats, and joked about having me as their chauffeur for the day. This is a car that indulges almost all senses: sight, with gracious curves and beautiful sheetmetal; smell, with the faint whiff of soft leather; touch, with the aforementioned suede; hearing, with unbelievably crisp and powerful music from the 825-watt sound system.
The XF is as much a treat for the driver as for the passengers. The steering wheel is precise and responsive, yet weighty enough for relaxed, two-finger cruising. Strong brakes, a composed suspension that barely rolls in corners, and an exceptionally slick automatic transmission mean the Jaguar's driving experience is just as sublime as its design. The XF would never be mistaken for a true sports sedan -- it's not quite as sharp as the most exciting German models -- but it's also not a floaty, wafting luxury boat.
The sole letdown is the new 2.0-liter turbo-four engine. Sixty mph arrives in a claimed 7.5 seconds, but the power delivery disappoints because it's punctuated by big pauses. The turbo engine quickly runs out of steam at the top of each gear and you must wait, wait, wait until the transmission upshifts and the engine returns to its torque band. Saving fuel is important, but so is having a gutsy V-8 that allows your Leaping Cat to leap forward on command.
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
The XF's 2.0-liter turbo I-4 shares its architecture with engines in vehicles as varied as the Ford Taurus and Land Rover LR4 (it made its Jag/Land Rover debut in the stellar Evoque), but it does seem especially prone to surging power delivery here in the XF. Step on the gas and there's a pause while the eight-speed auto and turbocharger synchronize. I found that the best way to drive the car was to use the paddles, launch in second with about half throttle, and short-shift up in the middle of the power band. The sacrilegious thing about this idea is that it's also how I drive that other 2.0-liter turbo, paddle-shifted car, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.
The Sport Portfolio package isn't worth $10 grand on paper, until you sit in the cabin and realize that the color combinations and interior/exterior features match or best those on cars costing twice as much. Speaking of cost, $68 grand is a pretty steep price for a Jaguar with a mediocre I-4. For my money, I'd kill the $2500 convenience package and then step up to the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 model with all-wheel drive. The price for that car is $69,750--just $1500 more than our tester.
Ben Timmins, Associate Web Editor