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2010 Jaguar XF Supercharged Review

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2011 Jaguar XF

SEE ALSO: Jaguar Buyers Guide

By Steve Purdy
Detroit Bureau

It is not often that I get a Jaguar for testing. They sell way more of that sensuous brand on the left and right coasts, so here in the Midwest we are less a priority. The last one we had was the XK-R about 2 years ago, and that was quite a project. We made a travel story out of that review following the outline of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula – the well-known mitten shape. We did 1,000 miles in three days, and if you’re really patient and interested you can read the whole 5,000-word story here on

This week we’re testing the new XF four-door sport sedan, but we don’t have nearly the big travel plan this time. In fact, we have no travel plans at all except for lots of running around tending projects. It’s really a shame not to take such a special car on a special road trip.

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They delivered the XF Supercharged on a sunny morning in April. Though I had, of course, seen the car before I was surprised by its lack of visual panache. It is, after all, a Jaguar. Or tester was an Indigo Blue, and I’m thinking that dark color is just not right for this sensual, sleek, mid-size 4-door luxury sport sedan. Its lines swoop nicely but don’t show well through the dark color. By the end of the week I had grown quite fond of the styling as some of its subtle details eased into my consciousness.

The design is subtle and yes, quite sleek once you focus your attention on it for a bit – but not garish, bold or brash. The classic cat-preparing-to-pounce-like stance is evident. The XF was designed under the supervision of then-owner Ford but in March of 2008 the brand was sold to Tata Motors of India. Isn’t it a bit ironic that ownership of this classic British brand has gone to a company in India, the country the Brits dominated colonially for so long. All Jaguars are still built in the UK, for now at least.

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The XF replaces the S-Type sedan and most of the substructure of the 4,300-pound XF is the same, with rear-wheel drive and independent suspension. It’s a tad longer and taller. (It looks longer but not taller.) The S-Type was much more Jaguaresque in its styling, in my opinion, and the new XF is taking that design language in a fresh direction while maintaining some of the tradition, it seems.

According to the sticker the price, including $850 transportation and handling charges, the price on this XF Supercharged is an even 68-grand. That includes the navigation system, keyless entry and start, heated and cooled front leather seats, bi-xenon lights, blind spot indicators, all the connectivity stuff one could want and Sirius satellite radio. The basic XF with naturally-aspirated 5.0-liter V8 is only 53-grand, a mid-level XF Premium w/Portfolio package is 61-grand and the super high-performance XF-R is 80-grand.

Under the domed hood lurks a supercharged, 5.0-liter V8 making 470 purposeful horsepower. “Purposeful,” I say, because when we put our right foot down decisively all those horses are there ready to trigger our adrenalin – zero-to-60-mph in 4.9 seconds. “Lurks,” I say, because everything under the hood is covered up by cladding, so you can’t see anything. Thrust is smooth and thrilling on hard acceleration but normal driving tends to be a tad jerky. As are the brakes and steering. The sporty feel seemed a bit overdone on my first few drives, but as I got used to the car it became less obvious. Small inputs often resulted in big responses. Once used to it, I found it quite stimulating in most environments.

That muscular V8 is mated to an exceptionally quick-shifting six-speed ZF automatic transmission with paddle shifters on the steering wheel. This Jag also boasts all the dynamic chassis controls it takes to not get into trouble – stability control with winter mode and active differential control. No longer do we have the traditional shift handle. Instead, a rotary dial eases up out of the console when the car is started and shifts are electric. The paddle shifters on the steering wheel take over whenever we squeeze them.

Mileage is rated at 15 in the city and 21 on the highway. Our experience this week was about half highway and half city driving. We achieved an average of 19.1 according to the car’s on-board info system. I certainly wasn’t babying it, as you might surmise.

Getting into the driver’s seat was a challenge. Yes, I know, I’m way bigger than I should be, but the pillar between front and rear doors seemed too far forward requiring a substantial effort to squeeze in. That probably would not be a problem for a more normal sized person. The rear seat and trunk volumes were up to the task of accommodating passengers and cargo in a style you’d expect from a luxury sedan.

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Once inside I found it an exceptionally pleasant environment. Nothing inside, for example, appeared to be made of plastic. Everything seemed like wood or metal or leather. I’m sure some of it was plastic but if so it did not call attention to itself.

Many of the controls were less than intuitive. The navigation system, particularly made me search for functions that should have been obvious. The little electric shifter knob, noted previously, was slick in my view.

The Jaguar engineers have done a magnificent job with the ride and handling characteristics of the XF. The ride is firm but not harsh and cornering ability is grand. I would love to get this car on a race track just to see what it would do. We can feel the precision engineered into the whole car in just our normal driving environment.

Warranty covers the whole car for 4 years or 50,000 miles with nothing extra on the powertrain.

Bottom line is that this is one of those cars I wish I could have keep a bit longer. The more I drove it the more I liked it. Some of its idiosyncracies disappeared once I got acclimated. I would certainly choose a different color, though.

In checking our local (Detroit) Jaguar dealers’ Web site I found they have plenty in inventory. So get out your checkbook and . . . enjoy!
Click PLAY to watch video of a supercharged Jaguar XF hitting 225MPH

Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved