First Drive Review: 2009 Jaguar XF
This 2009 review is representative of model years 2009 to 2013.
By Patrick Bedard of Car and Driver
Jaguar’s got its nerve back. After too many years of hiding within the stylistic umbras and penumbras of what it had shaped a half-century ago—think XJ and S-type—Sir William’s boys are once again daring to let their imaginations blaze. This 2009 XF, in showrooms about the time you read this, is an athletic five-seater that defies ancient traditions.
Behold! On startup, a knob rises from the surface of the console to replace the traditional gear lever. It’s a great act, like the deployment of some James Bond just-in-time gizmo. You’ll use it surprisingly little, only when you need D or R or the sport mode. Paddles behind the wheel do the moment-to-moment manumatic shifting. And there’s no need to dial back to P when you arrive. Push “stop,” and the knob retracts and returns itself to park automatically. First driving impression: This shifter is much more satisfying than the BMW and Mercedes column levers that always snap back to their neutral position.
Another trick: Pop the glove box with a fingertip touch of a target on the wood burl. More bravery: Have a look at the warped chrome bar in the air inlet beneath each headlight. “Sculpture,” says design director Ian Callum. Controversy, bring it on.
At 195.3 inches, the XF is 2.2 inches longer than the S-type it replaces, on an unchanged wheelbase. The roofline is a bit higher, contrary to the low suggestion of its wedgy aero silhouette (Cd is 0.29). The cockpit breaks with the Jaguar tradition of bunkerlike compartments. The cowl and the window sills are pushed lower, bringing more light inside, yet you won’t feel as if you were sitting on the car instead of in it because the substantial armrests, on the doors and tunnel, have been raised. You’re belted into a big easy chair, your elbows and trousers cosseted by fine leather. Passenger space inside the wedge, according to the specs, seems to have shrunk slightly in back, but the air around our knees and hairdos suggests an improvement over the S-type. The split backrest folds forward—no skimpy ski sack here—when 18 cubic feet of trunk are not enough. The steeply sloped backlight crops the scene playing in your mirror, leaving a coupelike view behind.
Choose from two levels of athleticism, the Luxury model on 18-inch wheels powered by a 300-hp, 4.2 V-8 (and there’s the Premium Luxury, same engine, but with 19-inch wheels) or the Supercharged XF on 20-inchers (rears wider than the fronts) with adaptive damping and 420 horsepower at 6250 rpm. Both V-8s partner tightly with the six-speed automatic. Shifts are quick and timely. The paddles get right-now response. The suspension, borrowed from the XK and creamed appropriately for sedan use, is noticeably muscular in the Supercharged model.
Luxury lists for $49,975 and $55,975, muscle at $62,975. Originality is standard equipment on both. Jaguar, finally, has turned both eyes toward the future.
Performance (MFR’S EST):
Projected Fuel Economy(C/D EST):