Based on a concept car called the C-XF ("C" for concept), the 2009 XF is a midsize four-door that will replace the Jaguar S-Type. Dealers are already taking orders for the XF, which goes on sale in March 2008. Competing models, in size and/or price, include the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Cadillac STS, Lexus GS sedan and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
The XF comes in Luxury, Premium Luxury and Supercharged trim levels.
The XF exhibits the first application of Jaguar's new design direction in a sedan. The XK coupe was the first model, and Jaguar says the XF is intended to emulate the XK's lines without sacrificing interior room. The windshields of both cars have the same raked angle, and the XF carries front fender vents similar to the XK's. (Vents have become a clich� recently, but Jaguar's are well-integrated.) Distinctive characteristics include a sculpted hood and a prominent aluminum frame surrounding the side windows.
The car's smallish mesh grille and large lower-bumper vents carry over from the C-XF concept, but the formerly slitlike headlights are much larger and have drawn criticism.
Around back are high-mounted LED taillights that emulate Aston Martin — much like the XK was charged with ripping off an Aston-style front end. Alloy wheel sizes range from 17 to 20 inches.
The interior combines traditional cues with contemporary touches, like a rotary knob in the center console that serves as a gear selector. With its continued dedication to ease of use, Jaguar does not use this knob as a multifunction controller like the German and some Japanese makers do. Like the XK, the XF's in-dash LCD is a touch-screen.
When the engine is started, the JaguarDrive Selector knob rises out of the console, and closed air conditioning vents rotate to the open position. Actions like these and the pulsing-red engine Start button are what interior designers call theater. The XF also uses proximity sensors in place of switches or handles for the reading lights and glove compartment lid — a wave of the hand does the trick.
Standard and optional features include heated and cooled front seats, front and rear sonar parking aids, a backup camera, a blind spot monitor, adaptive cruise control, Bluetooth wireless phone capability and inputs for an iPod, a generic MP3 player or a USB storage device. There's a choice of three audio rigs, the best of which is a Bowers & Wilkins premium surround-sound system. Sirius Satellite Radio is also an option.
The XF's relatively large trunk can be expanded by folding the backseat forward.
Under the Hood
The standard drivetrain is a 4.2-liter V-8 with the XK's six-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles on the steering wheel. Dynamic and Winter modes optimize the accelerator progression, shift schedules and stability-system operation for sporty driving and foul weather, respectively.
Jaguar says the 300-horsepower engine propels the XF from zero to 60 mph in roughly 6.2 seconds. The top trim level has a 420-hp supercharged version of the 4.2-liter that's claimed to blast to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds. The EPA gas mileage estimates are 18/26 mpg city/highway for the lesser engine and 17/23 mpg for the supercharged one.
The lower trim levels have conventional four-wheel-independent suspensions, and the Supercharged model comes standard with Computer Adaptive Technology Suspension, an electronically controlled adaptive-damper suspension that smoothes out bumps and controls body motions.
The airbag complement includes dual-stage frontal airbags, front-seat side-impact airbags, and curtain airbags for front and rear side-impact protection. Active head restraints come on the front seats. Antilock disc brakes with brake assist and brake-force distribution are standard. Also onboard are traction control and an electronic stability system.