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Lithe and limber XF


Jaguar's new star turn

What you get Specifications Pricing

Jaguar and automotive beauty go hand-in-hand, and are almost synonymous.

There have been glitches along the way, cars whose styling didn’t quite gel, but the strike rate is impressive: a bad-looking Jag is very hard to find.

Scotsman Ian Callum is currently in charge of styling for the British (though Indian-owned) marque, and it’s in good hands. He manages to take traditional Jaguar values and interpret them in a thoroughly modern way that preserves the essence and flavour of the marque.

The new XF is Callum’s first all-new sedan for the brand, and it looks every inch a Jaguar, with lithe lines and an athletic air.

Callum has managed to design a car that meets current safety legislation, yet retains the grace and sportiness that is the essence of the brand.

Though it’s high-shouldered and high-nosed (the latter to help meet pedestrian impact safety guidelines), Callum’s team has avoided the boxy look that runs through many current executive car designs.

Which is just as well, for the XF replaces the beautiful, though in sales terms under-achieving, S-Type which took its styling cues from the Mark 2 saloon of the 1960s.

The XF is a crucial car for Jaguar, and in styling terms, the designers have got it dead right.

The XF can look a little underwhelming in photographs, but in the metal it’s sensational, from the big chromed mesh grille to the graceful sweep of the coupe-like rear end.

The rest of the car is equally impressive. The test car is the middle model in the range, the 4.2 V8, both in terms of power and price.

Selling for a recommended $139,990 it slots between the mirror-priced petrol and diesel V6s which list at $114,990 and the barnstorming supercharged SV8 at $169,990. Buyers can bring the 4.2 almost up to SV8 equipment levels by forking out another $24,200 for added-cost options.

The 4.2 holds the middle ground on horsepower and torque among the three petrol XFs, with 219kW and 411Nm to the 3.0 V6’s 175kW/293Nm and the SV8’s 306kW/560Nm. The 3.0 diesel delivers 152kW and outguns the petrol V6 and 4.2 V8 in the torque stakes, with 435Nm, produced at 1900rpm.

The free-revving 4.2-litre V8 gives the XF plenty of performance, with acceleration to 100kmh in 6.5 seconds, and a quoted top speed of 250kmh.

It’s a smooth, responsive engine, refined and silent at cruising speeds and with a nerve-tingling howl at high revs. Acceleration for open-road passing is superb, and the big cat will rocket past slower traffic with ease.

The six-speed ZF automatic gearbox shifts seamlessly and has well-matched ratios. It can be used manually with steering wheel-mounted paddles, but unless you’re really pressing on in demanding terrain with constant direction changes, the gearbox copes perfectly left in Drive.

The power steering ratio varies with speed, and is nicely-weighted and communicative for fast open-road driving.

Chassis balance is finely-honed, though the 4.2 V8 doesn’t have quite the same sharp edge as the supercharged SV8.

But there’s little understeer and an array of electronic aids keeps the rear end under control.

The general handling feel is neutral, with a satisfying weight shift as the rear wheels bite under hard cornering.

Roadholding is excellent and the level of grip from the 245.40 tyres, mounted on 19-inch alloy wheels, is unshakable.

Jaguar quotes combined cycle fuel economy of 11.1 litres/100km, so potentially the car isn’t going to be too hard on gas. In practice we managed around 14 litres in driving skewed slightly to city running.

The XF has copped some criticism for its cabin “gimmicks” like the electrically-swivelling air vents and the rotary gear-shift knob which rises up out of the centre console when you press the ignition button.

There’s no key as such, an electronic fob unlocking the car and then arming the ignition. You press a button in the centre console, the engine roars into life and the gearshift dial rises up.

It operates like any rotary knob. Park is to the extreme left of the dial, then reverse and you keep turning it to the right to select Drive.

Much is written about vehicle controls being intuitive, but the XF’s rotary gear selector definitely is: you feel immediately at home using it and it’s virtually foolproof.

Those air vents? Well, when you switch on the air conditioning, the vents – which at repose present a flush face with the dashboard garnishing – swivel open. Gimmicky? Yes, but neat.

The parking brake is controlled by a discreet mini-lever on the top of the centre console. Pull it upwards and the brake engages automatically. Push it down and the electronics release the brake. I’m hooked on electronic parking brakes; they beat foot-operated parking brake pedals – the commonest fit on luxury cars – hands down.

The XF 4.2 V8 comes with a comprehensive range of standard equipment – see below – and a beautifully-appointed cabin that exemplifies understated luxury.

The leather-upholstered seats are well-shaped and comfortable and provide excellent support during vigorous cornering. The cabin ambience builds on traditional British luxury car style, with burr walnut woodgrain accents, but nothing is overdone.

Again, Jaguar’s designers have got it dead right. There’s plenty of feel-good factor about the cabin and there’s good leg room and head room. The XF also offers a good-sized boot.

This car’s predecessor, the S-Type, was among our favourite cars of the past few years, but the XF takes the mid-sized luxury sporting saloon concept to the next level.

It takes traditional Jaguar building blocks but brings them right up to date, handles well, is well-equipped and well-built and is tastefully styled and appointed: in our opinion, that’s the measure of a true luxury car, and the XF 4.2 V8 scores very highly on the desirability scale.

Rating: four and a half out of five.

What you get: elegance and lots of luxury

Jaguar’s XF is a well-equipped luxury car as standard, with a high level of fit and finish and a real feel of elegant quality.

Exterior equipment includes B-Xenon headlights with cornering lights, washers, automatic leveling and automatic on/off

The power exterior mirrors are heated, have an auto-dimming function for following cars’ headlights, and power-fold when the car is parked.

There’s a front parking aid and a rear parking camera which displays an image of the road behind the car on to a dashboard-mounted screen.

A sure monitoring system is an added-cost option.

Auriga 19-inch alloy wheels are standard, with Carelia 19-inchers an added-cost option.

In traditional Jaguar style, the XF V8’s cabin features wood veneer highlights Burr walnut is standard, but Rich Oak can be ordered at extra cost.

Upholstery is soft-grain leather, and the dashboard and doortops are finished in stitched soft-grain leather.

A Smart key keyless entry system is standard, and the driver’s seat has memory functions and is 10-way adjustable.

The leather-wrapped steering wheel carries controls for the sound system, cruise-control, phone and paddle-shifters for the six-speed ZF automatic gearbox’s manual mode.

The steering wheel is electrically-adjustable for tile and reach.

Added cost options include a Winter Pack with heated front seats and steering wheel, and an All Seasons Pack which adds seat cooling to the mix.

The automatic climate-control air-conditioning has filters and dual zone temperature control.

The power windows have one-touch activation and an anti-trap function; there are tree front seat cupholders and two in the rear, and 60/40 sp [lit-folding rear seatbacks.

A dashboard-mounted, seven-inch multi-media touch screen controls the sound system, trip computer and air-conditioning. The XF has Bluetooh phone connectivity. An electrically-operated sunroof is an added-cost option.

Standard on the 4.2 V8 is a 320-watt Jaguar Premium Sound System with eight-speakers, a sub-woofer, six-disc CD stacker and MP3 compatibility.

At extra cost buyers can specify a Bowers & Wilkins sound system, with 440 watts, 13 speakers, sub-woofer, MP3 compatibility and Dolby amplifier.

Safety kit includes front and side driver and front passenger airbags and cabin-length side curtain airbags.

The ABS anti-lock braking system has electronic brake force distribution and emergency brake assist which increases stopping power in crises.

If you specified all of the added-cost options, choosing between the Winter and All Seasons packs, you could add $24,200 to the XFG 4.2 V8’s price, taking it to $164,190.

Specifications of the Jaguar XF

Type. four-door sedan.

Engine. 4.2-litre (4196cc) petrol V8. Four valves per cylinder. Maximum power, 219kW at 6000rpm. Peak torque, 411Nm at 4100rpm. Engine meets Euro 4 emission standards.

Transmission. Rear-wheel drive. Six-speed ZF electronic automatic gearbox. Sequential-shift manual mode with steering wheel-mounted paddle gearshifters. Traction control. Trac Dynamic Stability Control.

Brakes. Front, 326mm ventilated discs. Rear, 326mm ventilated discs. Electronic park brake.

Wheels. 19-inch diameter alloy. Auriga design.

Tyres. 245/40 R19.

Performance. Top speed, 250km/h. 0-100km/h, 6.5 seconds. Standing quarter mile, 14.9 seconds (Jaguar’s figures).

Fuel economy. City, 17.3 litres/100km. Highway, 7.6 litres/100km. Combined, 11.1 litres/100km (Jaguar’s figures).

Dimensions. Length, 4961mm. Width (excluding mirrors), 1877mm (including mirrors, 2053mm). Height, 1460mm. . Wheelbase, 2909mm. Front track, 1559mm. Rear track, 1605mm. Kerb weight, 12749kg. Fuel tank capacity, 69.5 litres. Towing capacity, 1850kg (braked trailer). Turning circle, 11.4 metres.

Jaguar XF 4.2V8 pricing

Recommended retail price: $139,990.

The following items are available as added cost options:
19-inch Carelia-style alloy wheels, $1500.
Tyre pressure monitoring system, $1200.
Rich oak veneer interior trim, $500.
Winter comfort pack, $1600.
All seasons comfort pack, $3000.
Electric sunroof, $2800.
Electric rear window blind, $900.
Climate control with auto recirculation, $200.
Adaptive cruise control with forward alert, $3000.
Ivory leather upholstery and trim, $3500.
Portable audio interface, $1600.
Bowers and Wilkins sound system, $3000.
Jaguar Voice warning system, $1500.
Television, $2000.

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