XF in new Jaguar stands for 'extra fantastic'

ByABC News
April 17, 2008, 11:43 PM

— -- It's no stretch to say that the just-launched 2009 Jaguar XF sedan is more than a Jaguar. It is the Jaguar.

It's the only new-design Jag model on sale. It's the only Jag you could consider a mainstream product (by luxury-car standards). And the vehicle is doing so well that Jag could sell only the XF and match past total sales.

Based on the XK coupe, this sedan's swooping style, tasteful interior, V-8 power and modest (by luxury standards) $50,000 starting price have quickly made it a hit.

It went on sale March 10 and corralled 1,161 buyers for the month, according to Autodata two-thirds of Jaguar's total sales and about 100 more than all models combined in February. Last year, Jag averaged 1,307 sales per month in the USA.

Salients from time in a $65,475 Supercharged and a $56,950 Premium Luxury:

Quiet. Wind and road noise were almost non-existent.

Alas, the front edge of the driver's door panel creaked in the Supercharged, and the driver's door pillar in the Premium Luxury had a faint tapping or creaking.

Quick. Deceptively so, slipping to 70 mph or more as you're thinking 50 mph.

The 420-horsepower Supercharged was far more exciting than the 300-hp Premium Luxury model, but the latter's hardly sluggish or dull. The Supercharged delivered its punch with a wonderful growl.

Both engines deliver that substantial power smoothly, rather than suddenly. Thrill-seekers, look elsewhere.

Taut. Far from the cushy feel you might associate with Jaguar, the XF had the firm European ride beloved by driving enthusiasts and despised by those looking for a soft, gentle demeanor.

The high-performance Supercharged actually had the smoother ride. It comes equipped with an adaptive suspension that adjusts to conditions: soft on the boulevard, tight and firm in the twisties.

Pretty. The sweep and swoop of the body holds the eye and caresses the mind.

Some of the design details, however, are less inspirational. The big grille and sloping nose have an unsettling similarity to the far less premium Chrysler 300M of the 1990s and early 2000s (that's the old front-drive 300 built on the LH architecture not the big, buff, rear-drive 300 on sale now).