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YEAR OF THE CAT

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Jun 1, 2008

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

YEAR OF THE CAT By Harvey Schwartz

The all-new 2009 XF is a four-door Jaguar that fuses the style and performance of a coupe-bodied sports car, with the refinement, space and sophistication of a luxury sedan. The exterior styling is the first expression of Jaguar's new sedan design language. Resolutely true to the Jaguar philosophy of creating beautiful, fast cars, the XF goes further, adding a new dimension to the marquee. The four-door has the visual excitement of a coupe, but room inside for five adults to enjoy an interior that is contemporary in style, comfortable, yet uniquely Jaguar.

The XF enters in the niche long occupied by Jaguar's S-Type. But unlike many midsize premium sedans, the new car pushes boundaries away from the 'three box' style and creates a four-door, five seat luxury sedan with strong coupe-like lines. Jaguar's new design language debuted with the XK sports car and is carried over to the new XF, even utilizing the same windshield rake angles of the XK. The car's visual emphasis is sporty, muscular and dynamic-a character defined by a sweeping silhouette inspired by the XK, a powerful grille, dramatic side window graphics, and strong shoulders. The rising waistline gives the car a much higher tail providing twin benefits of much improved aerodynamic performance and a larger trunk volume. The car's Jaguar character is defined by its face-centered around a bold intake grille that is quintessentially British. The one-piece HID clusters wrap around the corners of the body onto the front wings. The front lower bumper includes powerful air intakes, carrying chrome 'splitter' blades whose simple modern lines evoke the technical, strongly engineered shape of a propeller blade.

The stance of the car is completely new for a Jaguar sedan and gives the car a ready-to-pounce look. The car's wide rear track not only enhances the handling and dynamic values of the car but also reinforces the visual confidence of the new shape. The bright signature blade, which proudly carrries the JAGUAR script, extends beyond the trunk and into the taillamps. The LED taillamps wrap around onto the rear wings, leading your eye out to the broad, muscular rear wheel arches. The wheels lie at the corners with fenders sculpted to make them look like powerful, bulging muscles. The XF is fitted with 18, 19, or the segments first 20in. alloy wheels that have been engineered for the best combination of comfort and performance. The exterior details have been designed as if they are finely crafted items of jewelry. The distinctive bright aluminum finisher around the side window is unusual in being a single-piece pressing and is an unmatched piece of craftsmanship. The side extractor vents have the Jaguar name embossed on an 'ingot' bar across the center, while the venturi shape below the tail - which hints at the car's sophisticated aerodynamics - is positioned about large, stylized twin chrome tailpipes. The car is unmistakably a Jaguar and its badging identifies it as such: a large, growler badge is prominent on the front mesh grille, while adding the Jaguar 'leaper' to the rear boot lid is another powerful signature.

Relax inside and you are in a very special place indeed. There is space-more than many will imagine given the XF's sports sedan design-but also the sense of being in a perfectly-proportioned, agile car. There is comfort, but it is the craftsmanship, materials and attention to detail that impressed me most. New thinking on seating design-the front 14-way adjustable/cooled/heated leather seats are deliberately sculpted and reduced in size but not comfort-liberates space and makes access easier too. Real wood - more than any Jaguar since the econic Mark II sedan in the 1960's - underlines the luxurious interior. Even the car's Morzine headlining material is a step up from conventional materials with the entire cabin roof and A-pillars trimmed in this eye-catching finish. Many features are invisible until needed - a different approach from carmakers that push technology as a dominant interior theme. The rotating vents revolve out of sight when they are not in use; the touch screen controls many features, allowing mechanical buttons to be reduced to a discreet panel below the navigation screen. The center console has two large compartments with veneered lids. It has an interface for an iPod or other MP3 player, and can take a 44-ounce cup and two regular sized cups.

One feature that maximizes space efficiency is an industry first JaguarDrive Rotary Gear Selector. Get into the car and the start button in front of the Selector pulses red, like a heartbeat. Press the button to start and the cast alloy Selector raises into the palm of your hand. Simultaneously, the navigation system initializes to its home page and the rotating vents turn 180-degrees from their flush, 'parked' position to their functional open position. Phosphor blue mood or 'halo' illumination echoes the ambience you might find in a favorite bar or restaurant. It surrounds the switch panels, console, electronic parking brake, Rotary Gear Selector, overhead console, under the door releases, and instrument cluster. The luxury theme continues with chrome highlights on the column stalks. The XF offers two levels of audio systems-a 320-watt Alpine system with nine speakers and a subwoofer; and the extraordinary Bowers & Wilkins 440-watt surround sound system with 14 speakers with remote subwoofer. Standard interior features not mentioned above includes power up/down express all-windows, central locking system, Jaguar Voice Commands, thick carpeting, floor mats, grab handles above each door and variable-speed wipers. The car moves with authority through its standard 300-horsepower, 4.2-liter all-aluminum, DOHC, V8, or even quicker, with a supercharged 4.2-liter V8 making 420 horsepower. Both are mated to a smooth shifting six-speed sequential transmission with paddle shifters on the three-spoke, leather, and power tilt/telescoping, steering wheel. The four-wheel independent suspension is a perfect blend of precise performance and a comfortable ride no matter the road surface. Up front are unequal length wishbones with weight-saving aluminum components, and the multi-link rear are both subframe mounted for maximum control, including straight-line stability and strong anti-dive characteristics under heavy braking.

The supercharged XF uses electronically controlled, two-stage, adaptive dampers whose characteristics are automatically adjusted within milliseconds in response to road conditions and your driving inputs, for the best balance between comfort and control. The variable ratio power-assisted steering system gives you instant response to your inputs with great precision and feel for the road and excellent on-center feel. Quickly and safely slowing the XF down from speed are large, 12.83-inch vented front and 12.83-inch vented discs, while the supercharged model gets larger 13.97-inch vented front discs. Keeping you in control during your drive are standard ABS, Brake Assist, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Traction Control, Dynamic Stability Control, Cornering Brake Control and Engine Drag Torque Control. For the first time, the XF adds Understeer Control Logic, which mitigates understeer by intervening through the engine management and braking systems to decelerate the car and help restore grip to the front wheels.

During spirited driving adventures you can turn the DSC control off to achieve more slip exiting tight turns. Options available include rear camera parking assist, adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring system. The all-new 2009 Jaguar XF is a 'tour-de-force' in the premium, mid-size sedan segment utilizing all-new sheet metal, a brilliantly designed and contemporary interior with the latest in safety systems to keep you safe on your way. © Words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz

SUMMARY JUDGMENT It's the best thing to come out of Coventry in eons. Find more at www.jaguarusa.com More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2009 Jaguar XF Premium Luxury Price: $56,175.00 Engine: 4.2 liter, all-aluminum, DOHC V8 Horsepower: 300 at 6,000 rpm Torque: 310 at 4,100 rpm EPA estimated fuel consumption (city/highway): 16/25 Drive configuration: Front engine/rear-wheel-drive Transmission: 6-speed automatic with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters Front suspension: Unequal length double-wishbones, coil springs, gas-charged shock absorbers, 31 mm stabilizer bar Rear suspension: Independent, multi-links with gas-charged shocks absorbers, coil springs, 12.6 mm stabilizer bar Wheels/tires: 19X8.5 aluminum alloy wheels/245/40R19in. summer high-performance tires Brakes: Front: 12.83 in. vented discs Rear: 12.83 in. vented discs ABS, Brake Assist, Electronic Brake Force Distribution Overall length: 195.3 in. Overall width: 80.8 in. Overall height: 57.5 in. Curb weight: 4,017 lbs.

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