These are turbulent times for Jaguar. Disappointing sales of its latest XJ, combined with being offloaded by Ford to India’s Tata Motors, has not inspired long-term faith in the venerable British brand. But Jaguar has not laid down, far from it. Rather it’s ready to spring back into life with one of the most intriguing sedans to ever wear the leaper, the new XF. A car that brings Jaguar DNA roaring into the 21st century.

While Jaguar spotters knew that a big leap forward was needed, few expected such a bold departure from tradition as the 2009 XF luxury-performance sedan.

Replacing the classically styled S-Type, the XF closely follows the long hood short rear deck profile of the striking XK Coupe, right down to the slope of the rear glass.

The new face of Jaguar greets rivals with a mesh-filled single port grille, raised hood, and sculptured cat-eye headlamp clusters.

The high, sharp shoulder line and plunging tail are a total departure from the S-Type’s vintage look.  Yet, the XF is still based on a heavily revised S-Type architecture. Use of new high-strength steels makes the chassis both lighter and stronger.  Still, being about 2-inches longer, even with the same 114.5-inch wheelbase, this brawny cat has gained a couple of hundred pounds.

To motivate the XF in America, Jaguar has abandoned the S-Type’s V6 option, going 4.2-liter twin-cam V8 all the way.

The Luxury model fits a normally aspirated 4.2 with a stout 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque.  Our Supercharged test car’s 8 spouts 420 horsepower, a boost of 20, and 408 pound-feet of torque.

Both use the XK’s 6-speed automatic transmission, but with a uniquely British pop-up rotary gear selector. There is a sport mode as well as steering wheel paddles for sequential manual shift.

But, despite more power, the extra weight seems to have taken its toll. Our car’s soft launch yielded 0-60 times of 5.8 seconds. That’s slower than the last S-Type R we tested. Mind you, when the blower takes charge at 3,200 rpm, the pace picks up rapidly as a 14.2 second quarter-mile at 104 miles-per-hour will attest.

Automatic shifts are smooth and manual shifts tight and quick, as the force-fed V8 hammers to redline. 

When the pavement turns, this big cat digs its claws into the tarmac even more with a suspension tuned for the sophisticated enthusiast driver.

Bounce and roll are there but well controlled, thanks to Jaguar’s CATS, Computer Adaptive Technology Suspension, that adjusts in milliseconds.

The variable-ratio steering is quick, with good feedback. The XF is very well balanced, with just a touch of understeer at mid-corner, and plenty of reserve power for leaping exits.

You can adjust the stability system to allow moderate wheel spin, or turn it off completely. Plus, on supercharged cars, Jaguar Drive Control has a dynamic mode that matches throttle and shift response to hard cornering needs.

Braking from 60 yielded a nicely short average stopping distance of 122 feet. With ABS and Brake Assist, the big discs deliver a strong, stable performance, all while ride quality has that solid but compliant feel that we expect in a high- end luxury car.

The Supercharged XF is the first car in its class to come with standard 20-inch wheels. Luxury trim fits 18s, with 19s and 20s optional.

The Interior of the new XF is just as much a departure from tradition as the exterior. Jaguar calls it excitement with function.

There’s much less wood and more brightwork, although some of that seems too much like a Lincoln.  Still, the high-end décor is unmistakable, with plush leather seats, here with heat and ventilation and even an optional heated steering wheel.

But this wouldn’t be a Jaguar without eccentric touches, like the hide-away climate control vents and the roundel-marked proximity switch for the glove box.

A large touch screen controls climate, navigation, audio, and more. Our car also has a rearview camera. The touch screen can be confusing at first. But, the premium Bowers & Wilkins Surround Sound system makes mastering it worthwhile.

Center console connections for iPods, MP3 players, and memory sticks are standard.

The rear seat is really only for two and has good head room, although it could use more leg room. But, the split seat folds to expand the trunk’s healthy 17.6 cubic-feet of cargo space.

Our supercharged Jag XF has government fuel economy ratings of 17 city/23 highway. A mix of urban and interstate driving delivered the expected average of 20 miles-per-gallon on premium gas.

XF pricing starts at $49,975 for the luxury model, and $62,975 for our Supercharged test car. Both are within BMW 5-Series’ price range.

The 2009 XF luxury-performance sedan shows that while this big cat may have stumbled of late, it is rapidly regaining its footing, roaring back with one of the most exciting, and important cars in Jaguar history.



  • Engine: 4.2-Liter Twin-cam V8, Supercharged
  • Horsepower: 420
  • Torque: 408 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 5.8 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.2 Seconds @ 104 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 122 Feet
  • EPA: 17 MPG City/ 23 MPG Highway
  • Mixed Loop: 20.0 MPG