2010 XF New Car Test Drive
The Jaguar XF is a fresh, engaging and stunningly gorgeous alternative to luxury cars such as the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class, and Lexus GS. After our test drives, we'd rank the Jaguar XF near the top of a class in which there are no unappealing entries.
The Jaguar XF delivers everything you'd expect in a contemporary luxury sedan, and then some, in styling, interior design, features, technology, driving behavior and overall impeccable luxury. The hardware underneath is anything but ordinary, much of it shared with the sporty Jaguar XK. Factor in a well-engineered body structure, and the Jaguar XF is exactly what it should be: smooth, quiet and responsive. This mid-size, rear-wheel-drive sedan feels lighter and more agile than some of the other cars in this class, and it bears up like a top-rank sports sedan when driven aggressively.
The 2010 Jaguar XF line includes four trim levels and four V8 engine choices. All XF models offer the full Jaguar experience of luxury, elegance, performance, ride and handling. The standard XF is one of the best equipped base models in this class.
The XF marks a fresh design direction for Jaguar, but includes themes that have identified the brand for decades. The swooping roofline and side glass are intended to create the impression of a sleek two-door coupe more than a four-door sedan, which is what it is, and to a considerable extent it works.
The same level of appeal is found inside; it's an interior we really like, both for its look and its overall function. Slide into the driver's seat and an interactive greeting that Jaguar calls the handshake, with the aluminum shift knob rising out of the console, welcomes the driver with the reminder that this will be an active process. The wood, wool and leather create the expected Jaguar feel and scent of an exclusive British club room, but the design itself is light, modern and airy. There's a minimalist feel to it, but it's also charming and makes familiarization easy.
The swoopy, coupe-like styling has its drawbacks, and the biggest should be obvious: That flowing roofline and raked rear glass mean rear headroom is tight, and it feels more confining than, say, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class or the Audi A6. On the upside, the XF trunk is larger than those of the competitors, and a folding rear seat offers expanded capacity. The importance of the loss of rear-seat headroom or the enhanced trunk capacity will depend upon the buyer's priorities.
We think there's no doubt the Jaguar XF is one of the most appealing choices in this wonderful class. It offers a viable alternative to the densely packed switches, multi-layered interfaces and alphabet-soup of electronic gadgets and wizardry that typifies many other choices in the luxury/sports sedan category, and does it with charm, distinctively stunning good looks and certainly no less cachet or driving dynamic capability.
The XF was introduced for the 2009 model year. For 2010, XF has some significant changes. In 2009, all the V8 engine choices were 4.2 liters displacement. For 2010, the base version has the same normally aspirated 4.2-liter, 300-horsepower V8 as before, but above that are three Gen III 5.0-liter V8s, one normally aspirated and rated at 385 horsepower, and two that are supercharged, one rated at 470 horsepower and the other at 510. These Gen III engines have an industry-first spray-guided direct fuel-injection system, which enhances efficiency and allows higher compression ratios. The engines also have variable camshaft timing on all four camshafts and reduced friction. The normally aspirated version has a variable-geometry intake manifold to enhance the torque range, and the 510-horsepower supercharged version has a high-efficiency twin-vortex supercharger.
The Gen III engines are built with a new lightweight aluminum block design with cast-in iron cylinder liners and cross-bolted main-bearing caps to reduce noise, vibration and harshness, and the cylinder heads are made from a recycled aluminum alloy. The Gen III engine is also shorter, allowing for better packaging, and all of them have 15,000-mile service intervals, compared to a 10,000-mile interval for the 4.2-liter engine. The result of all this powertrain improvement is a collection of engines that are not only quite powerful, but also deliver very commendable fuel economy for their levels of performance. All engines are matched with a very smooth, electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission.
Other changes for 2010 include a new XFR model (fitted with the 510-horsepower supercharged V8), a luxurious Portfolio option package, and upgraded features across the line.
The 2010 Jaguar XF is available in four trim levels, with the luxury Portfolio option constituting essentially a trim level on its own, and with four levels of power output from its selection of V8 engines. All include a six-speed automatic transmission with a paddle-operated manual mode.
The XF ($51,150) is powered by a 4.2-liter V8 delivering 300 hp and 310 pound-feet of torque. The standard seating is bond-grain leather, there is satin-finish walnut and aluminum trim, a 320-watt, eight-speaker stereo and 18-inch alloy wheels. The standard-equipment list is extensive and includes everything you would expect in a Jaguar, including rear park assist, passive keyless entry and start and a power glass sunroof.
The XF Premium ($56,150) is powered by the 5.0-liter normally-aspirated Gen III engine rated at 385 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. Its standard-equipment list adds a GPS navigation system, soft-grain leather on the seats, dash and door panels, three-stage heated front seats and 19-inch wheels, among other things.
The XF Premium is available with the luxurious Portfolio package ($4,000), which adds 16-way actively ventilated heated and cooled front seats, leather seatback map pockets, Suedecloth premium headliner, contrast-color twin-needle stitching on the door top-rolls and instrument panel, Figured Ebony veneer, and premium carpet mats with contrast edge binding and embroidered Jaguar logos. On the outside the Portfolio package adds 20-inch Senta alloy wheels.
The XF Supercharged ($67,150) is powered by a supercharged 5.0-liter Gen III engine that develops 470 horsepower and 424 pound-feet of torque. The Supercharged includes all the features of the other models and rides on 20-inch Selena alloy wheels.
Options for the Jaguar XF include the electric rear window sunblind ($450); heated leather steering wheel ($300); the Bowers & Wilkins Surround Sound system plus HD Radio ($1,875); and the Vision Package, which includes rear parking aid with camera, front park assist and a Blind Spot Monitor ($1,000). The Premium level is available with those same options, with the exception of the Vision Package, which is included as standard. Adaptive Cruise Control with Emergency Brake Assist ($2,200), which controls both throttle and brakes to help maintain a constant time gap to the vehicle in front, is optional on Premium, Premium with Portfolio, and Supercharged models.
The XFR ($79,150) is powered by the supercharged 5.0-liter V8 rated at 510 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque. The XFR includes everything; the only optional choice is the deletion of the Adaptive Cruise Control with Emergency Brake Assist.
Safety features that come standard include dual-stage front airbags, front-seat side-impact airbags, head-protecting curtain airbags for all outboard seats, and a tire-pressure monitor. As noted, rear park assist is standard on all models, with a graphic display on the dash. Active safety features include Dynamic Stability Control, with an understeer (or push skid) managing feature, and the latest-generation antilock brakes (ABS). The ABS features brake assist for full force in panic stops and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), which includes a component called Cornering Brake Control that proportions brake force from side to side to keep the car balanced while braking through a curve.