2011 Jaguar XF PremiumPosted on April 14th, 2011
Sleek sport sedan offers three engine choices
By Nina Russin
Recently, I was thinking about which of Jaguar’s stylish sedans I would choose to own, assuming that money was no object: the flagship XJ, or slightly smaller XF. I would choose the XF. Part of this has to do with lifestyle. I rarely travel with more than one passenger, so I don’t need the XJ’s spacious second-row seats.
But I also prefer the performance of the smaller platform. Even though the XF test car, equipped with a naturally-aspirated V-8 engine, was considerably less powerful than the XJ with a supercharged V-8, I had more fun behind the wheel.
While zero-to-sixty acceleration is important, to me at least, it isn’t everything. The XF test car reaches sixty miles per hour in 5.5 seconds, as opposed to 4.9 for the supercharged XJ. On a dragstrip, the XJ would blow the doors off the XF. But the XF’s shorter wheelbase makes it feel more nimble. It also gets slightly better gas mileage.
Base price for the XF premium is $56,500, not including an $875 destination charge. The five liter V-8 engine rated at 385 horsepower mates to a six-speed automatic transmission. Formula-style paddle shifters on the steering wheel allow the driver to downshift harder for more aggressive performance.
Standard convenience features include keyless entry and start, heated and cooled front seats, a premium audio system with satellite radio, navigation, Bluetooth interface, blind spot monitoring and xenon headlamps.
There are two, no-cost options on the test car: burl walnut veneer and a dove grey headliner. Price as tested is $57,375.
Two new engine options
The naturally-aspirated five-liter engine is one of two new options to the base 4.2-liter V-8. While the naturally-aspirated aluminum block in the test car is basically the same as the powerplant in the current, Land Rover LR4, differences in tuning make the Jaguar version slightly faster: 385 horsepower as opposed to 375 for the Land Rover version. The Jaguar block also has five foot-pounds of additional torque.
Engineers were able to increase engine displacement without any significant weight gain, compared to the 4.2-liter engine. They did this through the use of lightweight aluminum, although the cylinder liners and bearing caps are iron to reduce engine noise. Forged steel connecting rods give the block the durability to hold up on the track, or being driven hard on challenging roads.
Electronic controls on the six-speed automatic transmission make it possible to engage a friction coupling at very low speeds. The friction coupling, which takes place when the torque converter clutch solenoid engages, maximizes fuel economy.
Since the XF is not a light car (curb weight is over 5000 pounds), any gains in powertrain efficiency are important. A high compression ratio on the naturally-aspirated V-8 means that the driver needs to use premium fuel for optimum performance.
Styling reflects Jaguar’s classic heritage
Ian Callum’s designs for the current generation of Jaguar cars pay tribute to the automaker’s styling heritage without being mired in it. That might sound like an easy goal to accomplish, but it’s not. Callum adapted the bullet profiles of classic sports cars such as the XK 120, C, D and E-types, in an entirely contemporary fashion.
Up front, a small mesh grille is reminiscent of the air intake at the front of the E-type sports car. Large bi-xenon headlamps begin at either side of the grille and wrap around the car’s front corners.
The elongated front end and snub rear decklid is more characteristic of a coupe than a sedan. Its coupe-like proportions is one of the biggest distinctions between the XF and Jaguar sedans which preceded it. Nineteen-inch wheels not only give the car an ample footprint for enhanced performance; they also reflect the sports cars which inspired it.
Inside, the focus is clearly on the driver. The ignition button pulses red, before start-up, like a heartbeat. When the driver fires the ignition, a rotary shift knob rises out of the center console. The design is both attractive and more compact than traditional shift lever designs.
Test drive in Phoenix
I drove the Jaguar XF on a similar route to the one I used to test the XJ two weeks earlier. While both sedans handled the challenging sections of the route with aplomb, the driving experience was completely different.
It reminded me of the difference between driving big and small block versions of the classic Sting Ray Corvettes. The XJ performed much like a big block Corvette, muscling its way through the turns with an abundance of low-end torque. The sedan’s ability to develop peak torque at relatively low engine speeds is one of the advantages of supercharging.
The XF, equipped with the naturally-aspirated engine, has slightly less torque on the low end. But its shorter wheelbase and lower curb weight makes it more nimble as well. It was more fluid through the turns, and recovered more gently from weight shifts on the pitchy hills.
I used the shift paddles on the section of two-lane road east of town, to downshift through the turns. I found that I had to shift less frequently than I had the XJ, and hold the shifts for a shorter period of time. Since I spent less time overall out of high gear, I used less fuel.
Around town, the XF is a civilized commuter, with excellent steering response and firm, linear braking. The blind spot warning system is a wonderful feature for drivers who have to deal with traffic congestion. It’s almost like having a second set of eyes at the back of the car, adding a measure of safety when the driver needs to change lanes.
A rearview camera projects a wide angle view to the back when the driver shifts into reverse. Lines superimposed over the image show the car’s trajectory according to steering inputs, making it easy to maneuver out of tight spots in crowded parking lots.
Heated and cooled front seats keep the driver and front passenger comfortable in temperature extremes. Vents behind the center console circulate air through the back of the cabin.
I found the touch screen controls easy to use, as were the knobs to adjust the audio settings. Redundant audio, Bluetooth and cruise controls on the steering wheel minimize driver distraction.
The rear seats have enough head and legroom in the outboard position for an average-size adult to be comfortable. The car’s tall floor tunnel eliminates most of the legroom in the center position.
The trunk is long and wide enough to hold luggage and golf bags. With the rear seats folded flat, it’s possible to load in longer items such as skis or snowboards. The trunk is too shallow to load a bicycle into, even with both wheels removed.
The Jaguar XF comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, active front headrests, antilock brakes, traction and stability control. Jaguar’s factory warranty includes complimentary scheduled maintenance for the first five years or 50,000 miles, as well as 24-hour roadside assistance.
The XF sport sedan is on display at Jaguar dealerships nationwide.
Likes: A beautifully-styled sport sedan with excellent power and performance.
Dislike: Poor fuel economy.
Model: XF Premium
Base price: $56,500
As tested: $57,375
Horsepower: 385 Hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 380 lbs.-ft. @ 3500 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 5.5 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 16/23 mpg city/highway
One response to “2011 Jaguar XF Premium”
Kevin Scharff June 22nd, 2011 at 22:32
I purchased a Jaguar XF Premium whilst stationed in the UK prior to retiring. I had driven Mercedes, BMW, Audi, VW Passat, and a host of others. I love this car! Mileage is 28mpg. Alas I can no longer drive it on the autobahn; must use cruise control to keep it to commuter speeds. It goes rapidly from 70 to 135mph without even trying. Black with Charcoal interior. The Premium came with so much I didn’t add any options. The leather inside looks hand sewn, the turning radius is extremely tight, it turns heads no matter where I drive.
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