2009 Jaguar XF: Replacing the S-Type0
Jag’s New XF Revives a Commitment to Style and Grace
Jaguar previewed the replacement for their aging S-Type with the C-XF concept at the January 2007 Detroit auto show (click for our story). When the production XF photos were first released in August, contributor George Peterson was quick to praise the new look (click here). After that, the XF had a formal introduction at the 2007 Frankfurt motor show, and we had a chance to get a little closer and look at what Jag is really offering as an S-Type replacement. Depending on market, the order books for the XF opened this month, though the first deliveries won’t be until March 2008. And no launch is complete without a dedicated website, check out www.jaguarxf.com for Jag’s take.
Jaguar needs the XF to re-establish the brand’s style and luxury credentials in the middle of the lineup. The new XK and XJ haven’t lost that touch, though the V8 engines that give the smaller XF a competitive powertrain in its class leave the larger, more expensive entries slightly behind their competition. And, as Peterson pointed out in his design review, the XJ and XK look too much like recent generations. The out-going S-Type did not age gracefully and, while its style hearkened back to Jaguars of old, the S-Type looked old too quickly in its relatively long lifespan. Further, the lower priced Jaguar X-Type has not done Jaguar any image favors. The all-new XF needs to rekindle the passion of Jaguar and at first blush looks equal to its task.
With carryover engines, development of the XF focused on styling, creature comforts, and incorporates many driving aids and electronic helpers from the XK. The XF also debuts features like the JaguarSense proximity sensor and JaguarDrive Select gear selector. The XF will be the entrylevel U.S. Jag about the end of the decade, and it has the luxury feature updates it needs, including improved quality of interior materials. The debate will continue on styling, but powertrain and features boxes are all checked, and suspension elements and tricks suggest the driving dynamics will be strong as well.
XF Offers Cleaner Look than C-XF, More Sensuous Than S-Type
Styling, by Ian Callum’s team, is revolutionary in the way that the Mercedes-Benz CLS is revolutionary. The XF sticks with Jag’s hereditary low-roof design but with fastback look more like the XK coupe than XJ sedan, though the real-life roof is more usable than appeared on the C-XF concept. The concept, as is the job of concepts, took the design elements to extremes. The XF we’ll see keeps the themes and loses the overstyled look of the concept. The new grille shape is deep, but narrow. The concept hood’s four lines and a power bulge stayed for production, though the nostrils are gone. The chrome strip bisecting the lower front air intakes is more subtle in the production car. Overall, the busy look of the concept was toned down to stylish and elegant.
Jaguar promises that the production XF really does have room inside for five adults, with reasonable rear headroom, something Jaguars are not known for. (In fact, the XF offers slightly more height than the S-Type, as well as being a little wider.)
Familiar Engines, But Lots of New Features
The XF launches in the States with a 300HP naturally aspirated and a 420HP supercharged 4.2L V8; Jag is considering adding a diesel for the States, but it does not arrive with the launch model. The S-Type’s 240HP V6 has been dropped from the U.S. range, though it will be available internationally and Jag could bring it back if needed. The XF offers only a six-speed automatic transmission, but Jaguar Sequential Shift allows manual shifts.
The XF-is sports a new series of features, meant to “surprise and delight” according to the brand, and interior materials that do feel luxurious. On the gauges and around the switch panel and drive selector is phosphor blue mood lighting; lighting in the header console and under the front door releases is also a cool blue. Among the new features are JaguarVoice, which enables voice control of audio/telephone functions, and JaguarSense, which allows touch or proximity-sensing controls for overhead console lights and the glovebox release. Borrowing a trick from the VW Phaeton, the XF’s HVAC vents are flush until the vehicle is taken out of Park, when they open. Even the base audio system sports eight speakers, an HD Radio (also called Digital Audio Broadcast) and Sirius radio are optional, and an iPod/MP3 hookup is standard. The iPod can be controlled through the seven-inch touch screen that also displays the navigation system. Bluetooth connectivity is also standard.
The JaguarDrive Selector is among the industry-first, interesting elements. Today’s technology allows a rotary shift wheel for changing gears, as well as choosing between Drive and Drive Sport, and an engine start/stop button. At first look, the JaguarDrive Selector seems a more intuitive and easier-to-use solution than the by-wire gear selectors of BMW’s X5 or 7-Series. (And in the Sport mode, the XF uses shift-by-wire from the XK.) Jaguar touts the fact that this setup allows for space-saving packaging, but it is located on the left side of the center console for left-hand-drive cars and on the right side for RHD cars.
Driving aids include optional Blind Spot Monitor, front and rear parking aids, rear parking camera, adaptive cruise control, automatic speed limiter, and electronic parking brake. Stability control assistance is provided through electronic brake assist and brakeforce distribution, ABS, dynamic stability control (two-stage, similar to XK’s system), cornering brake control, and a new Understeer Control Logic that decelerates the sedan to restore grip to the front tires when needed. Supercharged versions have the ability, in Dynamic Mode, to completely disable the DSC. JaguarDrive Control gives the normally aspirated cars the choice between Normal and Winter modes, while the supercharged car adds Dynamic. These modes change engine mapping, transmission shifts, and brake intervention. The supercharged models also offer the Computer Adaptive Technology Suspension (CATS) from the XK.