The new XF luxury sedan doesn't seem like a Jaguar. Case in point:
-- There's plenty of room for the driver.
-- The ride can be soft and smooth.
-- It's not $95,000.
-- The gearshift lever isn't wood and leather.
-- In fact, there is no gear shift lever.
The XF midsize four-door is the first Jaguar sedan to install paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
The gear selector is replaced by a round knob (but not for radio controls.) You turn it through the PRNDS to pick a gear. The "S" is for sporty shifting. The knob isn't covered by wood or leather, either.
The keyless ignition is started through a button that flashes with a red light. That triggers the air conditioning/heater vents. They open up. If it's night, there's an eerie blue background light throughout the car.
Even more surprising is the huge amount of room afforded front-seat occupants. Jaguar has skewed interior room for the backseat passengers in the past (the old idea was that the chauffeur doesn't need the space like the "laird and lady" do).
The initial ride is sedate as well. Bumps are ironed out and the steering turns a little vague in corners.
But press the little button marked with a checkered racing flag and the car dons cape and tights to become Jaguarman. The ride and steering tighten up. All benefit from the adaptive suspension, which adjusts to the road.
You're connected again to the road and all its imperfections. The XF bounds into curves with feline grace. The correct line in found and adhered to tenaciously.
With 420 horses driving rear wheels, the XF springs from its haunches to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds. That's thanks to a supercharged 4.2L V-8. The regular V-8 gets there in 6.2 seconds.
It's the best Jaguar around. Period.
Jaguar XF Supercharged
Engine: 4.2LV-8 supercharged.
Dimensions: 114.5" wheelbase; 195.3" length.
Base Price: $62,200/tested $65,475.
Fuel Economy: 15/23 mpg.
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