Driven: 2009 Jaguar XF Supercharged

April 13, 2009

Slip inside the 2009 Jaguar XF Supercharged and don't do anything but close the door.

Now, look around. The aluminum, leather, and oak surfaces are strikingly beautiful. Like the über Volkswagen Phaeton, the HVAC vents are hidden, giving the interior an elegant, clean, more finished look. The Jag's interior isn't like the English pub atmosphere found in the old-school XJs, but the XF does emanate more warmth than a BMW or Mercedes while not giving up anything in terms of its performance feel or function.

Hitting the start button causes the 420-horsepower 4.2-liter to fire with a quiet V-8 growl that's just loud enough to be enjoyed but not so loud that it feels boy-racerish. Additionally, the vents rotate open (like the headlights on a Gen-IV Corvette) and the hockey-puck shaped gear selector rises from its flush position in the console.Over the years, manufacturers have tried numerous automatic transmission control devices. I hereby award 55,000 bonus points to TCC readers who can comment on the variety of shift mechanisms out there, including levers sprouting from various locations and push buttons on the dash or in the steering wheel's center. Jaguar's puck works much better than I initially expected, especially since its function is augmented by well-placed paddle shifters.

On the road, the XF comes alive. The supercharged engine pumps out 420 horsepower delivered in a satisfyingly linear fashion. The active suspension provides a comfortable ride for the 99-percent of the time you're not hammering it but tightens instantly for the one percent you are.While the car was in the Detroit office, we had the chance to drive the car with a prominent Ford development engineer. He commented, "Wow, we did a really great engine for them. You can really feel where all our money went." The chassis responds quickly but never harshly.

For those shopping BMW's 5-Series or Mercedes' E-Class, the 2009 Jaguar XF presents an option oozing with personality and performance. While our tester performed reliably and was without squeaks or rattles (that's saying something considering the roads around Detroit), all was not perfect. We were disappointed to see that the artful door trim misaligned with the artful dash trim by a remarkable 3/8th of an inch. For those spending $67,000 on a vehicle, such quality lapses are unacceptable. Perhaps now that Ford's money took care of everything else, the new Indian owners will finish the job.

Want more? Take a look at our 2009 Jaguar XF page for prices, specs, more blog items and tons of high-resolution photography.

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