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Thread: 2009 Jaguar XF

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    2009 Jaguar XF

    I've always liked Jags.

    Problem is, not enough of the rest of the buying public shares my affection. Jaguar, as you may know, is in a bit of a pinch. The entry level X-type hasn't done so very well (at least, here in the U.S.) and the mid-range S-Type is getting a bit long in the tooth.

    Sales have been slipping; something new is needed.

    Urgently.

    Hence, the '09 XF sedan - Jaguar's first truly all-new model in several years. It is not an evolution of an existing design but rather a ground-up replacement for the aging S-Type that is also a profoundly different type of Jaguar. One designed to appeal to a technophile younger generation that expects nothing less than the very latest in features and functionality, in addition to top-shelf luxury amenities and high-performance.

    This is not your father's Jaguar.

    ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

    For openers - and unlike the S-Type - V-8 power is standard in the XF.

    Some critics argue - credibly - that Jaguar made a huge mistake by using the Ford-sourced (albeit "enhanced") 3.0 liter Duratec V-6 as the standard engine in the S-Type. It's not that the Ford-sourced V-6 was a bad engine, per se. The problem is that when you're paying almost $49,000 (the base price of the '08 S-Type with the V-6 is $48,335) you have a right to expect more, cylinder-wise and status-wise. Lifting the hood of your nearly $49k Jag to discover the same basic engine as in your neighbor's $22k Ford Five Hundred is kind of a letdown.

    No such problem with the XF.

    Even base Luxury models ($49,975) come equipped with a Jaguar-built 4.2 liter DOHC all-aluminum V-8 (more or less the same engine that was optional in last year's S-Type). Its 300 horsepower rating is a huge improvement over the 235 hp rating of the S-Type's base V-6, both status-wise and performance wise. The S-Type V-6 took 7.5-7.8 seconds to reach 60 mph. Not bad - when considered in isolation. But given that just about any $25k 2008 family car with a V-6 can match or beat it, you can see why it was a problem for Jaguar.

    Armed with the new V-8 (and working the rear wheels through a new design six-speed automatic) the XF is much quicker - making it to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds or so. But if that's not quick enough, you can order a supercharger-equipped XF ($62,975) that packs 420 hp and which can bullet to 60 mph in about 5 seconds flat.

    On performance - either version - the XF has it covered.

    RIDE & HANDLING

    The S-Type leaned more toward softness, quiet and smoothness. Those three things used to be the most important criteria for a luxury sedan, but as the market for cars of this type becomes more Gen X - and less Greatest Generation - handling and responsiveness are at least as important. The trick is packaging all five attributes into one car without dulling at least a couple of them in the process.

    It helps to begin with a "clean sheet" design - in this case, an all-new monocoque shell that's partially constructed of a type of very high-strength steel called Boron steel - which Jaguar engineers claims gives the XF's body best-in-class torsional stiffness. In English, it means the body's less prone to flexing when stressed - as in high-speed cornering. (Another plus about the Boron steel is that it allows slimmer "A," "B" and "C" pillars around the roof - improving visibility without any loss of structural strength.)

    Next, add some XK handling DNA.

    Much of the XF's suspension is either based on (or inspired by) what's underneath the current XK coupe. Major pieces such as control arms are made of lightweight aluminum - which helps reduce unsprung mass. And both front and rear suspension assemblies are mounted to separate, bolt-on subframes, which helps to isolate road harshness and keep unwanted feedback from reaching the driver or the passenger compartment. With the car's body structure already being naturally very rigid, however, it was not necessary to tighten up the suspension unduly to "take up the slop."

    This, according to Jaguar suspension engineers, is the key to firm, responsive handling that's also luxury car smooth when you're not hammering it.

    Supercharged models ratchet things up a notch or three with an active suspension system called (of course) CATS, or Computer Adaptive Technology Suspension. It delivers "real-time, automatic damping" - which means the shocks can adjust their firmness almost instantly and almost infinitely (either firmer or softer) to accommodate changing road conditions - and how aggressively you happen to be driving.

    But even with 20-inch rims and high-speed sport tires, the supercharged XF is perfectly civilized, despite its very high levels of cornering grip. It won't disappoint the enthusiast driver - or annoy his wife.

    Final point: The XF's exterior shape - and its excellent aerodynamic profile - helps mute wind noise as well as aids the car's stability at higher speeds. The windshield rake of the XF is almost exactly the same as that of the XK coupe; Jaguar claims the XF's coefficient of drag (CD), at .029, is actually lower than the CD of the exotic XJ220 supercar of the 1990s.

    STYLING & UTILITY

    The looks of this car are apt to be a little bit controversial. Jaguar took a real leap of faith here - and you have to give the designers credit for boldness. The shell has elements of Aston Martin/XK in the rear (especially the long and wide tail-lamps and "fast" rear glass), XJ on the sides - and something entirely new up front. It's different - but still distinctively Jag.

    We'll soon see how the public reacts to it.

    No arguments about the merits of the interior, which (like the new powerplants) is a night and day improvement over the old S-Type. It is spacious, handsomely fitted out - and (again) distinctively Jaguar. There's less wood this time - and more brushed aluminum trim plates. I liked the ice blue backlighting and redundant (knob-type) rotary controls for the climate control and audio systems. There's a big trunk (almost 18 cubic feet) and the backseat area had plenty of leg and headroom for my six-foot-three self.

    The GPS system is a little finicky - but no more so than what you get in an Audi or BMW (and much better than the excruciatingly over-teched COMMAND system used in the Benz E-Class).

    But the biggest highlight is the new ignition/start-up sequence. Instead of the traditional L-shaped Jaguar shifter on the console, there's a round knob that rises up to meet your hand, pulsing red as it awaits your command. Touch it to start the engine - and rotate it to select various driving modes, such as Reverse, Drive and so on. It is very high tech (and drive by wire; there's no physical connection between your right hand and the transmission) but isn't hard to use - or annoying - as the sort of similar BMW system is. For instance, it does its thing quickly; there's no waiting several seemingly endless moments before the beast actually lets you complete the sequence of starting the engine and putting the car into gear. James Bond-style quick exits are no problem.

    Other cool touches: When you start the car, the air vents roll open in a choreographed dance - and you can dim the cabin lights (and open the glovebox) without physically pushing any buttons. Instead, there are "JaguarSense" proximity sensors built into the dash (for the glovebox) and headliner area (cabin lights) that detect your hand as it nears, opening the glovebox door or dimming the lights as if by magic.

    No other car on the market has gizmos like this - yet, anyhow.

    QUALITY/SAFETY

    One of Jaguar's biggest challenges during the 1980s and even into the 1990s was rehabbing its image as a quality brand. Jags were beautiful cars, yes - but their reliability was sometimes less than stellar. When Ford took Jaguar under its wing, that all changed - and today's Jaguars are up to snuff and as credible on quality/reliability as others in this segment.

    Safety-wise, it's hard to find fault with the XK. While official crash test results aren't yet available, the fact that the car has a vastly stronger body structure than the outgoing S-Type, in addition to all the latest active and passive safety equipment (curtain and side impact air bags, traction and stability control, anti-whiplash front seat headrests, etc.) should put the XF at or near the top of the class when it comes to crashworthiness.

    DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

    Both the naturally aspirated and supercharged versions of the XF are much better drivers' cars - and luxury cars - than the S-Type. They offer the enthusiast a legitimate sporting experience that's comparable to a BMW or Lexus, without some of the over-nannied fussiness you have to put up with in those cars - such as BMW's annoying iDrive, for example - or the intrusive Lexus traction/stability control system that is virtually impossible to turn completely off. The XF's also felt sharper to me than the Benz E-Class - which is more formal and stodgy than the coupe-like Jag. And the rear-drive layout is more fun to play with than AWD-equipped Audis - even if you have to risk some winter fishtailing and slip-sliding in exchange. (Jaguar engineers claim that the electronic traction aids make the XF as winter-savvy as some AWD-equipped competitors. I didn't get a chance to put that to the test. If you have to deal with long winters and heavy snows, it's something you'll want to check into for yourself.)

    I really liked the user-friendliness of the XF's cabin - and its high-tech features. Jaguar managed to design some very clever equipment that doesn't exasperate you every time you want to put the car into gear - or change radio stations or adjust the AC system. The JaguarDrive ignition/shifter requires maybe 30 seconds of explanation - and then you've got it. You literally can just get in this thing - and go.

    BMW's iDrive - and Mercedes' COMMAND interface - has a much steeper learning curve and even when you do finally understand how to work everything, it's still work.

    To me, luxury ought to be synonymous with relaxation - not complexity for its own sake.

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    Jaguar is working hard to recapture some of the business it has lost - and the XF isn't some rushed-to-production, badge-engineered skin job. It is the end result of a great deal of thought and attention to detail - and brings Jaguar into the 21st century without losing all the good things that make a Jaguar distinctive - and special.

    It deserves to be considered by anyone looking at a mid-sized luxury-sport sedan in the the $50-$65k price range.

    END

  2. #2
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    Re: 2009 Jaguar XF

    Jaguar managed to design some very clever equipment that doesn't drive you batshit every time you want to put the car into gear
    Great review, until I got to the word 'batshit'. Could you have chosen something else, like 'crazy' ?
    It just doesn't suit the tone of the rest of the article.
    :-\

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  3. #3
    Senior Member Ken's Avatar
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    Re: 2009 Jaguar XF

    Quote Originally Posted by chiph
    Jaguar managed to design some very clever equipment that doesn't drive you batshit every time you want to put the car into gear
    Great review, until I got to the word 'batshit'. Could you have chosen something else, like 'crazy' ?
    It just doesn't suit the tone of the rest of the article.
    :-\

    Chip H.
    Liked the concept and the pre-release pictures of the new car. Yes it looks like a Jag/Aston hybrid but it is a look that really works. Great report, Eric although I tend to agree with Chip - 'batshit' in an article about the revered Jaguar? How about 'doesn't induce a flurry of mental confusion' or 'doesn't fry one's synapses' or 'doesn't disconnect the locii between axon and neuron'. OK, OK, 'batshit' it is. ;D

    By the way, now Ford have said 'Tata' to the Jaguar, I wonder if Tata will use their Corus steel plants to produce the new metal for their new car.

    Ken.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  4. #4
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: 2009 Jaguar XF

    I saw one of these parked in front of a neighborhood restaurant recently as I was driving to work. Since I saw it from the back, I didn't know what it was 'til I looked it up later. At first glance it appears very impressive just sitting there.

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2009 Jaguar XF

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken
    Quote Originally Posted by chiph
    Jaguar managed to design some very clever equipment that doesn't drive you batshit every time you want to put the car into gear
    Great review, until I got to the word 'batshit'. Could you have chosen something else, like 'crazy' ?
    It just doesn't suit the tone of the rest of the article.
    :-\

    Chip H.


    Liked the concept and the pre-release pictures of the new car. Yes it looks like a Jag/Aston hybrid but it is a look that really works. Great report, Eric although I tend to agree with Chip - 'batshit' in an article about the revered Jaguar? How about 'doesn't induce a flurry of mental confusion' or 'doesn't fry one's synapses' or 'doesn't disconnect the locii between axon and neuron'. OK, OK, 'batshit' it is. ;D

    By the way, now Ford have said 'Tata' to the Jaguar, I wonder if Tata will use their Corus steel plants to produce the new metal for their new car.

    Ken.
    Thanks - both of you!

    And duly noted re the expletive; I will sub in something better after I have another shot of coffee....

  6. #6
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    Re: 2009 Jaguar XF

    I should change my handle to 'Editor Chip'
    ;D

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

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    Re: 2009 Jaguar XF

    I kind of liked batshit myself.

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    Re: 2009 Jaguar XF

    Looks like the XF was worth the wait... I just posted this article on the main site with pictures:




    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...6&Itemid=10848

  9. #9
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: 2009 Jaguar XF

    Now, about those Volkswagen wheels...


    What Ford platform does the XF use?

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    Re: 2009 Jaguar XF

    misterD,

    Originally when Ford announced the XF, it said it would be built on a modified Jaguar S-type platform, and would share a few of the suspension pieces of the old S-type along with many new pieces. I believe nothing has changed from Ford's original announcement, so the correct answer would be a modied S-type platform.

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    Now, about those Volkswagen wheels...
    I assume since it has VW looking/type wheels you like the car?

  11. #11
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: 2009 Jaguar XF

    I like the car, but those wheels are the thing I like the least about my VW.

  12. #12
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2009 Jaguar XF

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    I like the car, but those wheels are the thing I like the least about my VW.
    I agree OEM wheels are becoming very homogenous-looking, irrespective of brand/make/model.

    The upside is it's easy to swap them out with a set of personalized aftermarket rims...

  13. #13

    Re: 2009 Jaguar XF

    they absolutely raved about this car on Top Gear - great to see you got a shot at one Eric. They basically described it as "a 4-door XK" - which sounds like fun if you need to have 4 doors
    '06 Lotus Elise, '07 Saturn Sky Redline

  14. #14
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2009 Jaguar XF

    Quote Originally Posted by damen
    they absolutely raved about this car on Top Gear - great to see you got a shot at one Eric. They basically described it as "a 4-door XK" - which sounds like fun if you need to have 4 doors
    I liked it also; much more so than the current BMW 5 (and that includes the M5). Yes, the BMW is quicker and handles better at the absolute limits of grip, etc. However, it is also crippled by a paralyzing array of needlessly complex interfaces, from iDrive to the SMG controller (on models so equipped). Blecchhhh. Ruins the car - for me.

    PS - When are we gonna see that review you promised? ;D

  15. #15

    Re: 2009 Jaguar XF

    as soon as we finish this network migration at work - I've been putting in so many hours I just havent had a chance. Hopefully be finished soon!
    '06 Lotus Elise, '07 Saturn Sky Redline

  16. #16
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2009 Jaguar XF

    Quote Originally Posted by damen
    as soon as we finish this network migration at work - I've been putting in so many hours I just havent had a chance. Hopefully be finished soon!
    I hear you; no rush or problemo - get to it when you can!

  17. #17
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: 2009 Jaguar XF

    I finally got a good close look at an XF parked curbside last week. After a fairly lengthy examination I concluded that it looked like the result of a merger between Nissan and VW, inside and out. What I saw was a very, very nice car but there was nothing about it that said "Jaguar" except the badge.

  18. #18
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2009 Jaguar XF

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    I finally got a good close look at an XF parked curbside last week. After a fairly lengthy examination I concluded that it looked like the result of a merger between Nissan and VW, inside and out. What I saw was a very, very nice car but there was nothing about it that said "Jaguar" except the badge.
    Yeah... the trend toward homogenized design continues apace. There are few genuinely distinctive cars left. Have you seen the new Hyundai Genesis? It's a mirror image of the current Lexus LS..... which is a mirror image of the previous generation S-Class.... etc.

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