I felt like a modern day Robert Frost on this particular Sunday.
I came to a fork in the road somewhere near Dexter and decided to take the one better paved.
And that made all of the difference.
Sitting behind the wheel of the 2009 Jaguar XF may have also played a small role in the exhilarating supercharged ride.
There are two versions of the all new XF, both of which come with the 4.2-liter V-8. One merely pumps out 300 horsepower. My test model, however, included the supercharger, which boosts the horsepower to 420. Press the gas and wait a moment for the supercharger to take over. It's like giving into the sweet temptation of chocolate, firing neural synapses in that pleasure center in my brain.
Most of this car is just as creamy, smooth and delicious.
The leather, the wood, the super cool shifter that rises out of the center console when you start the car all play a role in showing you how different this vehicle really is. The shifter looks like the giant button used to launch a missile. Even the dash vents rotate open when you start the car, turning with a quiet electric whir. Yes, you are special, and so is this car.
If this is the new face of Jaguar, I'm starting to become a fan. It's got the fun and looks of the XKR but the price of the X-Type. OK, my $70,000 test vehicle might buy two base model X-Type sedans, but this one you'll want to leave on your driveway so your neighbors can appreciate your taste. The X-Type you quietly park in your garage at night.
While most Jaguars have a certain classic look, the XF moves that design in a new direction: the future. Its clean and curvy lines rise and fall with its silhouette. The profile pulls the eye back, and the fast windshield -- lifting out of the long hood and curving gently down the back -- makes it look like it's leaning slightly, ready to pounce.
The crazy cat is back. This car hauls in that tricky kind of way. The kind where you're somewhere outside of Dexter and all of a sudden you're west of Jackson. On those beautiful empty back roads of fresh asphalt road, the quiet ride disguises your speed. Move your hands to 9 and 3 on the steering wheel, block out the stereo and focus on the road.
The suspension is smooth but still stiff enough to keep you taut on the road. Anticipate the curve, keep your eyes up, look farther ahead and oops, you're breaking the law again. Get used to it in the XF.
While most sounds are removed from the luxurious cabin, the engine's note bleeds through perfectly. You can hear the sweet charger kicking in and the V-8 throbbing at lower rpm.
I always like vehicles with two personalities: One for daily driving and the other for reminding people you've got a beast just under your skin of your sports coat.
Inside, the XF offers all of the creature comforts of a luxury car. The dash bespeaks refinement with touches of aluminum and wood trim.
The seven-inch display screen on the center dash controls most of the amenities in the car: the heated seats, back-up camera, air conditioning. This helps clean up the center stack that other car companies have started to bulk up with buttons and switches. Less is more in this case.
Jaguar also uses proximity sensors to let the driver turn on the lights or open the glove box by just moving his finger close to it.
Then there's the stereo. The optional 440 watt Bowers and Wilkins uses a trunk full of speakers to play anything you want, as loud as you want. Naturally, classical music is recommended, and if you don't have any, you can just tune into some Ann Arbor station.
There are also some practical points to this machine. It can carry five adults comfortably, and the spacious trunk can haul a foursome's set of clubs.
However, all of the luxuries in the world wouldn't matter if the XF didn't perform. This car can out-perform most drivers' abilities, which is what a good driver should own. There's still some challenge left in it.
The XF is a welcome entry into the luxury sport segment.
And if you ever get the chance to drive one, head out near Dexter. Stay off the highways and choose the better pavement. It's a much smoother ride.
Scott Burgess is the auto critic for The Detroit News. Read his reviews every Wednesday and Saturday. He can be reached at (313) 223-3217 or email@example.com.
2009 Jaguar XF Supercharged sedan
Type: Rear-wheel drive, five-passenger sedan
Engine: 4.2-liter supercharged V-8
Torque: 413 pound feet
EPA Gas mileage: 15 mpg city / 23 mpg highway
Weight: 4,195 pounds
Interior dimensions (inches):
Head room: 39 / 37.6
Leg room: 41.5 / 36.6
Shoulder room: 56.8 / 56.3
Trunk space: 17.7 cubic feet
Turning radius: 37.7 feet
Basic: 4 year, 50,000 miles
Powertrain: 4 year, 50,000 miles
Corrosion: 6 years, unlimited miles
Roadside assistance: 4 year, 50,000 miles
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