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The Cat's Out Of The Bag

The 2010 Jaguar XF

There are some things every car enthusiast should try and do. A few of them are outlandish (win the lottery so you can finally fill that dream garage), some are impractical (drive an old Citroen DS in the Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo), but then every once in a while something doable falls into your lap. Like just last week…

I found myself in the West-Herr Jaguar showroom in Amherst, where sales manager Ray Ammerman was explaining to me that I shouldn’t drive just one Jaguar XF, but rather one of each to get the whole XF experience. And while Ray was explaining his reasoning, the voice in my head was saying, “All right already, you had me at ‘drive one of each,’ let me go,” and the rest of his speil was “blah, blah, and more blah.” Just kidding, Ray. It was actually a brilliant idea and it was my funnest morning behind the wheel(s) in some time.

If you aren’t familiar with the XF, it was introduced in 2008 as Jaguar’s premium luxury sedan. It took the place of the S-type, and numbers among its competition the BMW 5-series and the Audi A6. I’ve always been somewhat fascinated by the language used by automobile manufacturers when it comes to describing their product. I look at a car and say, “Cool grille.” Or maybe, “Neat headlights.” Jaguar is much better at describing the XF. For instance, settling in the driver’s seat and pressing the start button, I said to myself, “Nifty a/c outlets.” You see, when you start the car a little door rotates over each vent, revealing the vent, while at the same time the shift-controller, a round knob which you twist to select gears, rises up and emerges from its home within the console. Like I said, it was a nifty show. But Jaguar actually has a name for this little operation. It’s called the “welcoming handshake.” And no, it’s not a gimmick you’ll tire of after the first few weeks. I predict owners will find it fascinating every time they see it.

I started with the lowest XF on the totem pole, equipped with the 4.2-liter V-8, rated at 300 horsepower and mated to a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. (All XFs have this transmission setup.) To be honest, if this had been the only XF I drove, I’d have been impressed. Sign me up. I’ll take one in black. Comfortable, quiet, fast, good-looking as all hell, and then there’s the welcoming handshake. Jaguar quotes 0-60 time for the 4.2 at 6.2 seconds. Now I’m not about to try that out, even way out on the back roads of Amherst, but I have no reason to doubt that figure.

Next I drove the 5.0-liter, 385-horsepower model. Coming out of my Scion xB, I guess almost anything would seem fast. But even coming out of the 4.2 this 5.0 packs a punch. Zero-sixty? How about 5.5 seconds. You’re probably wondering at this point, who needs to go that fast? I mean, the top speed of the 5.0 is listed at a governed 155 miles per hour. The answer is, nobody drives that fast, at least not legally (well, maybe not nobody, but nobody should). But it’s nice to know the power’s there if you need to get out the harm’s way in a hurry.

If you’re in a real hurry, well, then there’s the XFR. Mmmm. It’s packing 510 horsepower under that beautiful bonnet, does 0-60 in 4.7 seconds, or, if you prefer, 50-70 miles per hour in just 1.9 seconds. Almost gets you there quicker than you can think about going there. And it still is rated at 22.5 miles per gallon!

Anyone who’s looking at Audi, BMW, or even Mercedes owes it to themselves to check out the Jag. And if Ray says, “Try ‘em all!”—go for it.

Read “You Auto Know” every other week in Artvoice and more often on AV Daily at Plus check out Jim’s bolog:

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