The cars we loved.
When the dust cleared from Ford’s sale of Jaguar to Indian conglomerate Tata Motors, the company was reading a replacement for the S-Type sedan. Still built on the same Ford shared platform, the new rear wheel drive sedan would tease audiences in Detroit as the CFX concept in 2007 and appear first in production form in Frankfort a year later.
The sleek design was simply striking. Quite possibly the best looking Jaguar in decades and easily one of the best looking mid-sized executive sedans currently on the market. Designed in Conventry and built in Birmingham England, the XF had all the classic Jaguar design cues, yet appeared modern in ways previous “modern” Jaguars had not. Designer Ian Calium was particular about which historic cues the XF would use, limiting connections to previous Jags to items like the mesh grille and cat hood emblems. In further attempts to avoid retro impulses seen in the S-Type, Jaguar employed what it called Computational Fluid Dynamics to design the XF before any clay models were created. This type of computer design simulation process was becoming a common industry practice, but was a new process to Jaguar.
Equal attention was paid to the interior. The traditional wood surfaces were still there, but now joined by smooth glossy plastics and brush metal surfaces. A futuristic light blue glow surrounded the instruments giving the controls something of a Englishman’s spaceship vibe. Even the HVAC vents were flush/built into the dash and opened automatically when the push button engine start was turned on. The levels of comfort were in keeping with the brand, but now new modern electronic entertainments pacified occupants. A 240w 10 speaker touchscreen controlled stereo was standard, but an optional Bowers Wilkins stereo was said to be one of the best sounding car systems ever according to AutoCar magazine.
The praise continued at launch, mostly centered on the powerful supercharged V8 engine. Initial base models came with a V6 in supercharged or standard form, but top billing went to a 410 hp 4.2L V8. Globally, the engine lineup was quite diverse, with four-cylinder twin turbo diesels available in Europe. It’s not uncommon to see FX doing police duty in England, usually in diesel form. By 2012 a re-shuffling of engine lineups would affect the US models significantly. Even high dollar luxury marquees like Jaguar are not immune to the pressures of EPA mandates. In following an industry trend, Jaguar has made moved more toward the V6 as its standard engine while offering an unprecedented four-cylinder engine in the US market. The turbocharged 240 hp 2.2L comes from Ford and is similar to the one in the Land Rover Evoque. In addition to the turbo fours, a new 3.0L supercharged V6 (340hp) came in rear or AWD. The range topping 5.0 V8 was still available at 470hp in the XF Supercharged or 510hp in the XFR.
Performance is impressive for the XFR, 0 to 60 in 4.7 seconds. By contrast entry-level model with its turbo four managed 7.5 seconds, not so great for a $47k car. The smaller engines 29 mpg is good, but BMW’s 3 Series delivers that with 300 hp. Regardless of the model, drivers can expect the high levels of comfort and convenience expected in a Jaguar. The diversity of the model range outside of the US has garnered the Jaguar plenty of praise in Europe. Multiple publications have voted diesel and supercharged versions of the FX as “cars of the year” between 2008 and 2010. Even Top Gear gave faint praise to the XF compared to the BMW 5 Series.
In addition to revamping the engine choices, 2012 saw a refreshing of the exterior. The XF followed more closely the original CFX concept with sharpened lines. A more aggressive front end thanks to squinty headlights moved the FX further away from luxury to a more sporty appearance. Improvements were also made to its ZF 8 speed automatic transmission as well. 2012 also marked the introduction of a new body type, the XF Sportbrake. The Sportbrake is a wagon sold in Europe that features a sloping roof similar to shooting brake designs. It competes with wagon versions of it’s main competitors like the CTS-V, 5 Series and V70. It’s not known if the Sportbrake will make a stateside appearance. New models are great, but Jaguar needs to and has been trying to improve its quality before introducing new models in the tough American market.
According to JD Powers and associates, Jaguar is now one of the highest ranked in initial quality according to a 2011 study. Early problems with the XF did not deter sales, but small issues appeared in a 2008 long-term test car used by Automobile magazine. TrueDelta, a survey group found that XF owners spent more time at their dealers for repairs than owners of other luxury cars like the Cadillac CTS or Mercedes C Class. While the information was based of earlier models of the XF, Jaguar has likely made amends judging from it’s current JD Powers ranking. Still, problems are problems. Combined with the bad reputation of English cars in America in general, the XF is not likely to fetch the highest resale values after 4 years. Assuming you can get one that was well maintained, it just might be a bargain as it still is one of the most beautiful sport sedans around – at any price.