2010 Jaguar XF: Tradition Upheld
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
When it was announced in 2008 that storied British carmaker Jaguar had been sold to Mumbai, India-based Tata Motors, a huge, private conglomerate with 98 operating companies in industries such as power generation, chemicals, telecommunications and engineering, it was met with some skepticism that The Cat’s reputation for fast, luxurious, classy, classic cars could be sustained.
On two counts, that skepticism has proven to be overblown: first, it isn’t the first time that Jaguar has left England; and second, the 2010 Jaguar XF lives up to the legacy the carmaker began in 1922.
Jaguar started as the Blackpool, England-based Swallow Sidecar Company, founded by Bill Lyons and William Walmsley. Manufacturing aluminum motorcycle sidecars, the company moved on to automobile production in 1933 as SS Cars Ltd., and some believe the letters stood for “Standard Swallow". The first vehicle to carry the Jaguar name was the SS Jaguar 100, released in 1935, and after World War II ended in 1945, SS Cars disposed of the initials, not wishing to be associated with the Nazi SS, and became Jaguar. Its first postwar sports car came out in 1948, the XK 120, the fastest production automobile of its day — its name was derived from its top speed of 120mph. The XK 120 helped Jaguar establish a strong presence in the sports car market.
In the ensuing years, Jaguar merged with British Motor Car Corporation in 1966, merged with British Leyland in 1968 and became part of Ford Motor Co. in 1989. Contrary to the belief of some, when Jaguar purchased Daimler in 1960, it was NOT part of the German Daimler-Benz group.
Fast forward to today, with production remaining in Coventry and Castle Bromwich, UK, the Jaguar remains sleek, powerful and lavish.
Replacing the X-Type in the Jaguar line-up, the 2010 XF’s refined-yet-liquid lines, mesh grille, Cat logo, gently sculptured roofline and architecture that looks like it is always in motion, is what we’ve come to expect from The Cat. XF measures a luxuriously fluid 195.3 inches long, 73.9 inches wide and an aerodynamic 57.5 inches high on a 114.5-inch wheelbase.
The four-door XF has the visual excitement of a coupe, classic demeanor of a luxury sedan, room inside for five adults and a pure Jaguar environment inside and out.
Under the hood (or bonnet as the English say), this powerful Cat gets all the muscle a 4189-lb. luxury car needs for blazing speed and agility, from a DOHC 32-valve 5.0-liter, 385-hp V-8 with V-8, aluminum block and heads, and direct fuel injection. The system puts out 380 lbs-ft of torque that is available in all ranges. Mated to a ZF 6-speed automatic transmission, a press of the ignition button fires up a smooth-sounding, brawny plant. Explosive low rpm torque gets the 20x8.5-inch Senta wheels and Dunlop Sport Maxx tires sprinting from zero to 60mph in a test-run of 5.8 seconds en route to a 15.7-second quarter-mile. Even if you opt for the 420-hp supercharged version, you’ll only pick up two ticks in the dash. There is also a limited-production 510-hp, 461 lbs-ft of torque XFR available that can blow the socks off a 5-second sprint, rocketing down the track at a manufacturer’s time of 4.7 seconds.
Acceleration is smooth and unhesitating in all ranges, steering is precise, suspension is passenger-coddling and smooth, and only slight oversteer, but excellent balance were exhibited in auto-cross runs. Oddly it is NOT an all-wheel-drive vehicle, but that aside, XF does scamper well and adjusts to road nuances with aplomb.
EPA rated at 16mpg in city driving and 23 on the highway, a mixed-use week of testing yielded a stout 19.7 mpg.
Interior sophistication is a Jaguar tradition as well, and the 2010 XF carries on the custom with touchscreen electronics, aluminum and burl walnut wood trim, supple leather, ambient lighting, heated seats, and such upscale electronics as blindspot monitoring, parking distance sensors, rear camera, overtaking sensor, guidance display, adaptive cruise control and heated steering wheel.
A multimedia show is also part of XF’s cabin. Keyed in as a “welcoming handshake” for the driver, the JaguarDrive Selector™ transmission interface is a focal point of a sequence that begins with an illuminated stop/start button pulsating like a heartbeat until pressed, when the selector rises into the driver’s hand and the rotating fascia vents silently open.
The four-door sedan is spacious inside with front headroom measuring 39.0 inches and 37.6 inches for rear passengers’ legroom is 41.5 inches in front and 36.6 in row two.
The 2010 Jaguar XF Premium has a base price of $57,000 including destination charges. My test vehicle came in at $62,875, but current dealer prices in Central Pennsylvania and much of the East Coast are coming in several thousand dollars lower – check your local dealer for deals. The Portfolio option added ventilated front seats, contrast stitching, Alston headliner, deep pile carpeting, electric rear window sunblind and 20-inch Senta wheels for $4000, and a Bowers & Wilkins sound system added $1875. The supercharged XFR is priced at $80,000.
India owned and English built, the Jaguar’s reputation remains intact for luxury, refinement, power, style and grace.
> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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