- The Washington Times - Friday, July 18, 2008

With the new supercharged XF model, Jaguar may be trying to rewrite the whole luxury car game.

Part of the magnetic attraction to this car is the “Wow, what is it?” exterior styling. Penned by Jaguar designer Ian Callum, the XF follows the latest manufacturer trend of designing “four door coupes,” cars with four doors and the personality of two door performance machines. XF styling can be best described as “swoopy,” with a long front and short rear overhang connected by a long torso. Front quarter panel side vents and deep sculpting on the lower doors make a dramatic impression. Twenty-inch wheels give the side view the proper mix of sports car and luxury sedan. Front styling is unique within the Jaguar family, while the rear hints strongly at the new XK Coupe and Convertible — no real surprise considering all three were created by Callum. To say the car is beautiful is an understatement.

The XF’s interior is also a knockout. Sit behind the optional three spoke heated leather steering wheel (well priced at $300), and press the red “start” button on the lower center console. As the 420-horsepower supercharged V8 ignites, the Jaguar “Drive Selector” rotary gear shift knob rises from the lower console, and four dash-level cooling and heating vents open via motorized housings. A definite “wow” moment the first time and every time you see it.

Fit and finish are leaps and bounds better than earlier Jaguar four door models, and the interior in total is all about high tech. Take for example the glove box. No, you don’t have to pull a plastic handle or push a simple button to open it. Sleekly integrated into a strip of fine veneered wood is a small “bulls eye” circle just above the glove box. Press your finger against the circle, and it measures the moisture in your fingertip, allowing the proper electrical connection to open the glove box.

Another “wow” moment.

The overhead reading lights are switched on in similar fashion — simply press your finger anywhere on either reading lamp, and they illuminate. Of course, no Jaguar would be a Jaguar without yards of soft leather inside, and the XF’s interior is full of double stitched hides. Wood veneers and textured aluminum dominate the dash, and it looks terrific. At night, “Phosphor Blue Halo” lights adorn the dash, center console and illuminate the doors, tucked away in the door handle nacelle. The lights are not used by any other manufacturer and create another “wow” moment as the color blends exceptionally well with the high-tech theme of the XF.

On the road, this is a Cat that’s ready to play. On the center console, you’ll find a switch that turns the XF from luxo-cruiser to back road beast. It switches off electronic stability control allowing you to hang the XF’s tail out for performance driving. And this car is tight, with a light, high-strength steel body shell designed to be stiff for safe, precise handling. Jaguar’s Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS) senses road conditions and vehicle speed and adjusts the suspension settings automatically for optimal handling. Two-stage Dynamic Stability Control manages grip when conditions vary.

These active safeguards are complimented by two-stage driver and front passenger airbags with occupant position and weight sensing, front seat head restraints, and “soft-landing” technology in the seat belt retractors.

The performance of the supercharged V8 is exceptional. The traditional “whine” of the supercharger is barely noticeable, but the blower’s thrust is prominent in each of the six forward gears. Zero to sixty in this car is another “wow” moment.

The 2009 XF is available in three trim levels: XF Luxury from $49,975; XF Premium Luxury from $55,975; and the tested XF Supercharged from $62,975 (all prices include a $775 destination charge). The base 300 horsepower engine on Luxury and Premium Luxury models is also an able performer. All trim levels come very well equipped with myriad luxury accoutrements.

The 2009 Jaguar XF is really two cars in one: High-tech luxury sedan, and all out four door sports car. Wow.

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