2013 Jaguar XF Preview

August 16, 2012

Jaguar’s XF sedans started a clean break, design-wise, from the brand’s more ornate, traditional ‘saloon’ past, and while they've been wildly successful over the past several years, it would be fair to say that its all-V-8 lineup has been a limiting factor—especially in a class where a wide range of powertrain options has become the norm.

So for 2013, Jaguar is playing with more of a full deck, introducing both a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine and supercharged V-6 to the lineup, along with new eight-speed automatic transmissions and available all-wheel drive.

The four-cylinder, a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, making 240 horsepower (and yes, essentially Ford’s EcoBoost four), is standard on a more affordable new XF 2.0 model and offers EPA fuel economy ratings of up to 29 mpg on the highway; perhaps more noteworthy is that it also makes 251 pound-feet of torque between 2,000 and 4,000 rpm. The company also says that it’s the lightest engine ever used in a production Jaguar, and it’s by no means slow, as its 0-60 mph time of just 7.5 seconds demonstrates.

Next up—and effectively replacing the former naturally aspirated 385-hp V-8—is a new supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 making 340 hp. This is an all-new engine, although based on Jaguar’s V-8, and it can get the XF to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds yet also earns an EPA rating of 18/28 mpg—several mpg better than the former V-8.

The 2013 XF also adds all-wheel drive; initially, it’s introduced only in supercharged V-6 models. For the so-called Instinctive All-Wheel Drive, an active torque management system biases power toward the back but can shift more power to the front wheel to preemptively prevent slip. To aid fuel efficiency of both this engine and the V-8 models, Jaguar has added Auto Start/Stop, which smartly stops the engine at stoplights then restarts it when you lift off the brake.

V-8 engines won’t go away, but they’ll be a smaller portion of the lineup. The 470-horsepower XF Supercharged and 510-hp XFR will continue with their current powertrains and tire-scorching, under-the-radar enthusiast appeal. The high-performance XFR hasn’t been left out completely either. It gets a new Speed Pack option that geared for track-driving enthusiasts, bringing suspension and aerodynamic improvements and raising the top speed to 174 mph.

Infotainment and navigation in the XF have been updated—including new Visual Lane Guidance, Dynamic Zoom, and My POI features to make navigation screens more useful. Jaguar is also turning to Meridian, a British company known for high-end home audio components, for its new premium sound system.

Thankfully, Jaguar hasn’t much changed the XF’s look; XF Supercharged and XFR models still get big 20-inch wheels and functional aero improvements, and the XFR has a unioque front-end design with black-finished mesh and hood louvres. The interior retains its charm, with soft-grain leathers and what’s overall a boutique-quality interior.

In our review of the 2012 XF lineup, we also note the XF’s well-weighted, direct steering, capable brakes, and joyful driving experience, overall, but point to its swoopy roofline and cramped back seat as its most noteworthy weakness. Consider it the price of beauty. Based on the otherwise partial refresh that the XF gets for 2013, we don’t expect that drawback to change.

We anticipate that the new powertrains and wider range of models will greatly extend the XF’s appeal outward to the kind of luxury shopper that gazed longingly over the XF’s design but couldn’t quite stomach the gas mileage. Stay tuned for a first drive report over at our companion site Motor Authority, as well as full review details right here.

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