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With continual refinement and updates since its 2009 debut, the Jaguar XF has become a true competitor in the mid-size luxury segment. With three powertrains and optional all-wheel drive, it runs strongly with cars like the brilliant Cadillac CTS, the stalwart BMW 5-Series and Mercedes E-Class, and Audi's lithe A6 and A7.
For 2015, Jaguar is reorganizing the trim levels and adding more standard content, but drivetrain choices remain the same.
The XF's design has aged well—it still looks sleek, modern, and spirited. With relatively few cutlines and a catlike stance, it plays off the brand name beautifully. Jaguar found a new direction with the knockout interior as well; it's not derivative of any other model, while remaining uniquely British, quite glitzy, and a showcase of the brand's legendary attention to materials and trims. With the rotary shift knob, and vents that wake up when the pushbutton start is tapped, there are aesthetically pleasing touches and lots of 'wow' details throughout.
Across the entire lineup, the XF feels understated and graceful behind the wheel, with well-weighted steering, capable brakes, and smooth, muted shifts. Electronic systems like Active Differential Control and Adaptive Dynamics systems shuffle power between the rear wheels and adjust suspension and steering firmness, making this 4,200-pound sedan feel remarkably nimble.
Although the XF was V-8-only for several years when it launched, Jaguar recently added a turbo four-cylinder and supercharged V-6 to supplement the V-8, which is still available in three strengths. The turbo four-cylinder has 240 horsepower and moves the XF quickly enough for comfort-oriented buyers (albeit without quite as much refinement), while the supercharged V-6 makes 380 horsepower and is more a direct replacement for the naturally aspirated V-8 (albeit with better fuel economy). We like this engine for its more classically British engine note, complete with supercharger whine. It's also equipped with stop/start to increase fuel economy, in this instance a juddery system that makes plain the sacrifice to the EPA gods.
If you don't mind dipping deeper into your coffers both at the dealership and at the pump, the supercharged V-8 brings the most driving enjoyment. Whether you go for the 470-horsepower XF Supercharged or the 510-hp XFR, count on stunning, confident performance, with a brawly baritone exhaust note and 0-60 mph times of 4.9 seconds or less. All versions have a paddle-shifted eight-speed automatic, but only the V-6 offers Jaguar's new all-wheel-drive system, a traction (not performance) oriented system that should prove appealing to those in the Snow Belt.
At the top of the lineup is the limited-run XFR-S, a special high-performance edition that truly chases the likes of the BMW M5, Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, and Audi RS6. With 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque from the supercharged V-8, plus sharpened Quickshift transmission logic, a stiffer suspension than the XFR, and a special staggered Pirelli performance tire setup--in addition to various aerodynamic improvements and an available big, functional rear wing--the 2015 Jaguar XFR-S can get to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds and max out at 186 mph.
The most significant weakness of the XF is that the swoopy roofline does cut headroom in back. With packaging that's closer to a four-door coupe than a family sedan, there's still plenty to swoon over, and those rear seatbacks do fold down for access to the trunk. The seats are supple and well-contoured, and no matter where you're sitting, you're surrounded by rich leather and other snazzy materials, from walnut to aluminum. And lavish materials in the 2014 XF continue to impress--especially against the more sterile appointments in some of its class rivals.
While some versions of the 2015 XF are full-fledged sport sedans, all variants surround passengers with serious luxury-car features. For 2015, Jaguar has done away with the base 2.0T model and created the 2.0T Premium in its place, which includes the formerly optional Premium Pack (navigation, keyless entry, rearview camera, front parking sensors, a 380-Watt Meridian sound system, HD Radio, and satellite radio), as well as the Blind Spot Monitor, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, and a split-folding rear seat with ski pass-through. Other standard equipment includes a pair of USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, and built-in music storage. Move up the model line, and more exclusive materials like the Warm Charcoal leather trim and contrast-color micro-piping are the real lure--not the aging infotainment interface and onboard technology.
Jaguar has also created two different models for the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, both new for 2015. The Portfolio and Sport are geared toward luxury and performance-minded buyers, respectively. They carry the same base price but bundle different aesthetics and features. Both are available with Jaguar's all-wheel-drive system.
Supercharged V-8 models include the XF Supercharged, XFR, and XFR-S.