This is a car that's easy to get used to.
The 2010 Jaguar XF Premium sedan wraps its owners in luxury that more expensive cars fail to do.
Now for many, the $56,000 starting price is a little steep (that doesn't include $850 shipping, and my test vehicle arrived with $5,800 in options). But these cars aren't made for the unwashed masses. No, these cars steal you away from those crowds in a rush of V-8 thunder.
Just pushing the start button on the XF creates a show. The air vents electronically whirl as they turn to face you, and the shifting wheel on the center console lifts up, looking like a giant ICBM launch button. Turning the JaguarDrive Selector does the same thing as pulling a traditional shifter, but it changes the experience.
That's where you feel the luxury, the notion that there's something special going on and it's all for you.
Those are little details, but it's the little details that make this car such a pleasure. The XF excels at catering to its passengers. The dark ebony veneer trim makes the center console look like a maple chest and the Bowers and Wilkins sound system sounds like you're sitting in front of a stage. You almost want to listen to Mozart because that's what you think people who typically drive this car do.
There's a mystique behind Jaguar that was lost for a while: Those classic long lines, big powerful engines and notorious British craftsmanship that made most Jag owners pull their thinning hair out by the roots. Jaguar meant more than cars, it was a lifestyle.
The XF helps remind people what a Jaguar can be: Sophisticated, high tech, powerful and opulent.
The XF growls on the road and hums along at extremely high speeds with ease. Its variable ratio power-assisted steering (it makes it easier to move the tires at slower speeds and tightens the feel at higher speeds) provides that perfect connection to the road for this sedan. It's never personal or too aggressive, it's just business.
The 5-liter V-8 is just as businesslike in tossing this 4,000-pound car around. There's a pleasant split personality to the engine. Easy acceleration feels perfectly normal, but hit the gas and the engine growls with anger and you'll feel your body press against the seat -- 385 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque tends to do that to you.
But what's better than being mashed against thick leather seats? How much can some really complain about that?
The one danger the XF does present is that the cabin is so quiet, and the ride so smooth, you can easily find yourself well above the speed limit without knowing it. It's as if the rest of the world slowed down.
Now I could go on about the exterior design, and how it seems to have cues taken from Aston Martin, but that's not a bad thing in this car's case. There is the new Jaguar head in the middle of the silver mesh grille (I really wanted the traditional cat leaping off the hood) but times are changing.
But really, this car wins you over with its interior -- proving the point that it's what's inside that counts.
The gauges are simple but well drawn. The color touch screen takes a little time to adjust to but once you do, it seems perfectly natural. The steering wheel buttons look like sterling silver and have a nice push to them. Every piece in the Jaguar feels substantial, well crafted and elegant.
The contrast stitching on the leather, the electric rear window shade, the Alston headliner (all of these are part of the $4,000 Portfolio package) all make the car ooze with luxury.
A few on-the-road features I liked included the blind-spot monitoring system that meant I never had to turn my head while on the road. Jaguar drivers don't look back, I assumed.
They also don't reach for keys, as this car lets you keep your key fob in your pocket. Just walk up, the door will unlock, sit down and push start.
The first mile was fun; the hundredth mile was a hundred times better.
This XF spoils its passengers, pampering them in a cocoon of leather and luxury. It's a place I now know I enjoy being.
The only thing I hated about this particular car was giving it back.
Sburgess@detnews.com (313) 223-3217