2009 Jaguar XF Spins Tires and Turns Heads

Tony Blair has driven the new Jaguar XF.

Sometime in March, you can, too, at Scottsdale Jaguar Land Rover, 6725 E. McDowell Road.

The former British Labour prime minister couldn’t comment, but he’d no doubt be joined by Conservatives across the aisle in acclaiming the new sports sedan’s convergence of luxury and performance. Almost 8,000 of his very proper countrymen have pre-ordered the vehicle which represents a new styling language for the Coventry-based luxury carmaker.

“This exciting new vehicle will put Jaguar back on people’s shopping list,” says Michael Famileti, general manager of Premium Luxury Brands for Penske Automotive, which owns the dealership. “It will, indeed, turn some heads.”

Debuted last year at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the new mid-size replaces the S-Type. Americans first saw this vehicle as the Jaguar C-XF (for Concept-XF) at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mich. Outside of a few minor changes, the production XF is the same car.

People noticed immediately that this was not retro-styled as with the previous generation of Jags, which looked back to the ‘60s for their styling inspiration. This Ian-Callum-designed car has more of a forward-looking sleek “sedan within a coupé” look.

Featuring a dual-headlamp cluster sloping to a meshed oval-faced grill, the sedan is stretched from the S-Type configuration to meet crash-safety requirements; five adults seat comfortably. More headroom has also been added.

Three models (with MSRP) are available in the United States: Luxury ($49,975), Premium ($55,975) and Supercharged ($62,975). The Scottsdale agency will have inventory models, but if you order, delivery time from England will only be about three months, says Brand Manager Mason Sturgill.

All three cars are propelled by the all-aluminum 4.2 liter V-8, with variable camshaft phasing, four overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. The Luxury and Premium engines are 11.0:1 compression ratio outputting 300 horses at 6000 rpm and 310 foot pounds of torque at 4100 rpm.

The supercharged version ups horsepower to 420 at 6250 rpm and maximum torque to 413 at 4000 rpm by way of a rotor-type supercharger with quiet helical rotor-type gears for low noise and immediate responsiveness. This performance version weighs just slightly more at 4,194 pounds against the normally aspirated cars’ 4,017 pounds.

Jaguar says that the unaspirated engine will do a 6.2-second 0-60 mph with a top speed of 121 mph, and the supercharged version will rip to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds and top out at 155 mph.

Powerful, yes, but not noisy: This isn’t a race car, just a fast one. An underbody tray, a tuned exhaust system, and a double bulkhead between the engine bay and passenger compartment keep you and your guests at peace in the luxury interior.

All three models feature extraordinarily efficient four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and wheels and tires to keep you pinned to the highway. The Luxury version offers Cygnus 18-inch alloy wheels; the Premium Auriga 19-inch; and the Supercharged Selena or Volans 20-inch wheels.

For the Supercharged version, Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS™) provides adaptive damping for maximum handling control. Cornering Brake Control and Engine Drag control also optimize the braking. A Tire Pressure Monitoring System is also standard. For safety, the XF is equipped with features such as two-stage driver and front-passenger as well as side-curtain airbags.

All versions are each controlled through a six-speed automatic, designed to shift 10 percent quicker than previous systems. No manual option is available — the XF is a true sports tourer — but fun-loving Jaguarians can use the F1-style Sequential Shift™ paddles behind the steering wheel for this. For the Supercharged version, the JaguarDrive Control™ system provides a Winter Mode for automatic control and the driver-involved Dynamic Mode.

All models carry a Servotronic variable-ratio power assisted steering: This maximizes parking facility at low speeds and driving precision at high speeds.

Instead of the normal drive selector lever, a rotary dial — the JaguarDrive Selector™ — rises when you press the engine start/stop button. As soon as this is done, the air vents open and the navigation system (available with voice guidance) becomes operable as well. The instruments, switchgear and major control panels are backlit with pale blue; some interior lighting is controlled by waving the hand in front of sensors. A seven-inch touch screen controls major functions.

All models feature a leather twin-needed-stitched interior, with burl or oak veneers and contemporary-look textured aluminum trim. A moon roof lets that and the sun in when you wish. Based on the model ordered, you can also have heated and cooled seats, 10-way or more power seats for driver and passenger and a three-spoke leather wheel outfitted with a variety of comfort and steering controls. Other options include a Blind Spot Monitor. A security system with perimeter alarm is standard: Anyone you don’t want close to the vehicle will set off a chirping warning.

The audio system is particularly impressive, beginning with the standard system, which includes a 140-watt amplifier and eight speakers. The next-tier system consists of a 320-watt system, with nine speakers, including the subwoofer.

Options, however, are available, for those drivers who want the most brilliant Beethoven or the rockingest Rolling Stones while they pounce on the highways with their new cat. Packaged with Sirius satellite radio, the premium audio system is designed by Bowers & Wilkins of England. One audiophile magazine called it the finest car system it had ever tested.

Powered by a 440-watt amplifier with Dolby Pro Logic II for surround sound from any stereo source, the system features 14 speakers (including a subwoofer). Each front door contains a woofer, a mid-range Kevlar™ speaker and aluminum-dome dome tweeter, and the rear doors have woofers and tweeters. The center speaker is a full-range driver, two full-range “surround” speakers sit on the rear parcel shelf, and another huge subwoofer is in the trunk. The XF also provides an IPod interface.

“The new Jaguar XF combines luxury and strength, refinement and power, in what is one of the elegant driving cars in its class,” Sturgill says. “I haven’t seen a car that brings it all together like this one for over 10 years.”

Scottsdale Jaguar Land Rover,

www. jaguarscottsdale.com, 480.990.9000