2012 Jaguar XF Styling

9.0
Styling

Jaguar's axed its old retro-dominated designs for extravagance and ultramodernity--and it's a rollicking success, nowhere more convincingly than in the XF sedan.

Benchmarked against cars like the new Audi A7 and the Mercedes CLS, the XF's still the stunning styling leader, an instant classic, with the curves and catlike cues that connote the brand and the reinvention Jaguar's pulling off, car by car. The grille is still mesh, the proportions are still classically influenced, but little else bears any resemblance to the cars Jaguar sold for the two decades before the XF was introduced in 2009. It's almost the ne plus ultra evolution of Infiniti, all essence and sophistication--or is it an affordable Aston? That gives you a better sense of context for its looks than anything save for a firsthand look.

The Jaguar XF's suave sheetmetal looks even better in person--and it's matched by a beautiful cabin.
If possible, the XF's cabin delights drivers even more than the exterior. It seems to have been lifted from the front desk at a chic London hotel. There's aluminum and wood trim, to be sure—burl walnut trim is now standard—as well as a groovy puck-shaped shifter knob that rises to attention when the ignition button's pressed (and reminds us of high-end audio systems. At the same time, vents roll open to life, and ambient lighting begins to glow. Jaguar considers it the car's "heartbeat," and it's a clever wake-up call to the reinvigorated design all around.

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