The 2012 Jaguar XF rises toward the top of the class with distinctive good looks, first-rate interior finish, excellent driving capability and a charm some competitors lack. The base model has more power and more standard features than competitors, while the line-topping XFR is a wicked fast sport sedan in the purest sense. All in all, the XF is one of the most appealing choices in segment loaded with great cars. The 2012 Jaguar XF sedan is available in four models. All are powered by a 5.0-liter V8 engine in one of three power ratings, matched to a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle-operated manual mode. For 2012, Jaguar XF gets cosmetic updates inside and out. Bi-function, high-intensity discharge xenon headlights come standard on all 2012 Jaguar XF models, with new LED taillights and a couple of welcome functional changes inside. The four 2012 XF models now look a bit more distinct.
The standard 5.0-liter V8 has variable valve timing, efficient direct fuel injection and a substantial 385 horsepower. It's the most powerful base engine in this class, with acceleration quicker than anyone really needs. The six-speed automatic is one of the most pleasing and effective transmissions on the market. The upgrade supercharged engines are thrilling, and the line-topping XFR is a true ultra-performance sedan, keeping pace with the likes of the Mercedes E63 AMG. The Jaguar XF stacks up nicely with the best cars in this class. It's smooth, fast, and responsive, but also quiet and comfortable. Its six-speed automatic transmission might be the best in any luxury car anywhere, and contributes considerably to the enjoyable driving experience. JaguarDrive Control is a feature that lets the driver tailor various functions to taste with a single adjustment. This system, which comes standard, incorporates most electronic control programs, including: How early or late the transmission shifts; the throttle map, or how much the engine accelerates for a given dip of the gas pedal; and the Dynamic Stability Control, or skid-management electronics. The driver can switch through three options. Winter is the most conservative: the transmission shifts up at low engine speeds, the throttle works lightly and the DSC intervenes quickly, all useful in slippery conditions. Dynamic is the most aggressive setting, best for driving hard in dry conditions. There is also a set-and-forget Automatic mode.
By exterior dimensions, the Jaguar XF roughly matches other mid-size luxury sedans, including the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Lexus GS and Mercedes E-Class, though most of the Jaguar's measurements stretch toward the larger end of the spectrum. The XF applies a host of high-tech metals like high-carbon steels, dual-phase, bake-hardened steel and hot-formed boron to create a vertical safety ring around its occupant cell. This careful structural engineering also pays dividends in everyday driving. Jaguar claims that the XF is the most torsionally rigid car in the class, meaning that it flexes less from end to end under pressure. This overall stiffness and rigidity is one of the factors that separate luxury sedans from less expensive, higher-volume models. It's the foundation for minimizing noise and vibration inside an automobile, and the starting point for dynamic capabilities such as handling and ride quality. In profile, the XF is defined by a single, uninterrupted line that flows from the front bumper to the rear edge of the trunk lid. The beltline, or that character-building crease below the side windows, rises up into the roof while the roof drops down toward the beltline. The effect is a forward-biased wedge shape that creates an impression of speed, even when the XF is sitting still. The rear deck is higher than that on any Jaguar sedan before, but this less-formal look pays dividends in excellent aerodynamics and an expansive trunk.
For 2012, there are significant interior updates, starting with new seats, a new gauge cluster with a clearer, full-color text display, and audio system upgrades. All the buttons have a softer, grippier feel. Slide into the driver's seat and an interactive greeting that Jaguar calls the handshake welcomes the driver, activating the dash vents, lifting the aluminum shift knob out of the console and reminding the operator that driving is an active process. The wood, wool and leather create the expected Jaguar feel, with the hint of an exclusive British club room, but the design is light, modern and airy. The XF interior is more minimalist than some competitors, but it's also more charming and makes familiarization easy. In general, the XF is stylish, but not overly complicated. The soft blue LED ambient lighting looks nice at night. Pressure-resistant thumbwheels on the steering-wheel spokes adjust audio or cruise-control functions, and they feel right. The headlight switch is on the turn-signal stalk and the wipers are on the right stalk, and both are easy to use, first and every time. Buttons for the sunroof and rear sunshade are overhead.
The Jaguar XF delivers 385 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. The seating is bond-grain leather, with Burl Walnut veneer trim, a 400-watt, 10-speaker stereo and 18-inch alloy wheels. Standard equipment includes heated front seats, rear park assist, passive keyless start, a power glass sunroof, Bi-xenon self-leveling headlights and GPS navigation with touch-screen and voice command.
Jaguar XF Portfolio adds soft-grain leather on the seats, dash and door panels, cooled front seats, passive keyless entry and 19-inch wheels, among other things.
Jaguar XF Supercharged adds a supercharger to the V8, generating 470 horsepower and 424 pound-feet of torque. The Supercharged includes the Portfolio's feature upgrades, electronically controlled adaptive suspension and 20-inch wheels.
Jaguar XFR is the raciest model, with sport-tuned adaptive suspension and Z-rated high-performance tires. Its supercharged V8 is up-rated to 510 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque, and it comes with the premium audio.
Safety features include the required array of six airbags: front impact, front-passenger side impact and head-protection curtains for outboard seats. Rear park sensing is standard, as are a tire-pressure monitor and a full range of active safety features, including electronic stability control (ESC) with an understeer management and advanced antilock brakes (ABS) with Cornering Brake Control, which proportions brake force from side to side to keep the car balanced while braking through a curve. For more on this model, visit the official Jaguar XF website!
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