What it Is
new cars: 2009 Jaguar XF Preview – A new four-door sedan from Coventry, it comes with a normally aspirated or supercharged V-8, all the modern electronic driver aids and a 21st century interior. The new Jag has lots of styling changes that individually will appeal to the mass market, but together are uninspiring and will leave many Leaper fans wondering what happened to the great cat’s heritage.
Photo Credit: Oliver Bentley & Jaguar
Why it Matters
Introducing a new model generates interest in the brand, and the flagging Ford division needs all it can get. Dearborn has poured billions into the venerated British marque only to see little or no profits. The entry-level X-Type has been in production for nearly eight years, is much maligned and is a sales flop. A positive response from consumers for the XF is needed. Unfortunately, the S-Type replacement’s styling has been controversial at best, which is not the kind of interest Ford is looking for. Pricing on the base model starts at $49,995 and the super charged version at $62,975.
What’s Under the Hood
The XF uses the 4.2 liter V-8 engine, either normally aspirated with 300 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque, or supercharged, which pumps out 420 horsepower and 408 lb.-ft. of torque. Power is sent to the wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode and the now-epidemic paddle shifters. Underneath is a forged aluminum double wish bone suspension with a 31 mm anti-roll bar in the front and a 13.6 mm anti roll bar in the rear. Stopping power is handled by an electronically controlled 4-channel Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with yaw control and ventilated discs.
What it Looks Like
The 2009 Jaguar XF is a generic European luxury sedan, which isn’t necessarily bad. But unlike the S-Type, the XF doesn’t really look like a Jaguar. The lines of the profile flow nicely and the side vent behind the front wheel works, but the back end is busy, with a horizontal chrome bar joining the taillights, a chrome leaping cat emblem above it and “XF” and a trim designation below. Up front, the proportions of the headlamps and grill could be better. The elements that sort of resemble previous Jags are more like hints than something drawn from a legacy.
The interior also leans toward the now-familiar luminescent gauges, central touch-screen display for navigation and whatever else the engineers pack in. But it doesn’t adopt the full iDrive-style setup, instead relying on good old fashioned buttons for several controls. These days, luxury interior means leather, wood and aluminum, and that’s what we find here. There are several cool features, such as ambient lighting that reacts to the proximity of your finger.
What Jaguar Says
"As one of the most visually striking, technically sophisticated and driver-oriented sedan cars that Jaguar has ever produced, the XF clearly demonstrates the forward-looking focus that now defines the Jaguar brand," said Wayne Burgess, XF Senior Design Manager.
What We Think
Jaguar needs a winner, but we're not sure the XF fits the bill. The Aston Martin type styling that appeared in the XK appears here as well, but is too subtle to be picked up by the casual observer. In fact, that's the problem, there are design influences from several marques, but none prominent enough to give the XF any real style. With mixed reactions at the unveiling, the success of the 2009 Jaguar XF is now solely in the hands of the consumer. It's not that we think it's a bad car, it just doesn't live up to Jaguar's reputation. So, for the Leaper maker's sake, we hope buyers can get behind the XF more than we could.