2009 Jaguar XF Review

Justin Berkowitz
by Justin Berkowitz

Last month, U.S. Jag dealers sold just over a thousand new cars, despite cut-rate financing. While the entire U.S. car market is going South, Jaguar's stuffy image is sending the venerable marque Hades-wise in a supersonic hand basket. The new XF midrange sedan is supposed to reverse these declining fortunes by burying memories of the bulbous, fusty, pudenda-fronted S-Type (not to mention the execrable X-Type). I grabbed an XF fresh off the transporter to see if Jag’s lobbing snowballs in Hell.

Let’s get this out of the way: the new XF’s design is a pale shadow of the C-XF concept’s drop dead gorgeous sheetmetal. We’re talking supermodel versus neighborhood bartender. The XF’s front end is a particularly boring transmogrification; it's a little weird and the snout’s portal smacks of Volvo’s blandest. The central bonnet creases are a particularly classless affectation. In fact, you could say the XF is nothing more than a Volvo in a slutty dress.

The back end almost saves the day; it looks like an Aston Martin. It's fantastic. But Ian Callum gets no props for designing the same car over (DB9) and over (V8 Vantage) and over (Jag XK coupe) and over (XF sedan). If Jaguar was going to show a scintilla of individuality, well, they could have hidden the door handles in the B- and C-pillars.

As for the XF’s interior, we've all seen the boring press pictures included here. The company’s PR photographer should be fired for not doing justice to this four-wheeled shrine to automotive luxury.

The XF’s interior’s fit, finish and materials are the best I’ve ever seen in a production car, without exception. If you're the type of person that appreciates exquisite detailing of a fine watch, you can do nothing but marvel at the XF’s cabin. The wood trim in my optionless "Luxury" trim model could have been fashioned by a bespoke furniture maker. The matte finish is both unique and stunning.

The XF’s attention to detail dusts the usual standard bearer Audi. The vents rotate into view when you start the car up (royalty payment to V

olkswagen’s ill-fated Phaeton?). They boast aluminum inserts to move their direction, with the word "Jaguar" elegantly stamped on their surface. We're talking about slivers of material the size of long grain rice. The same beautifully finished metal sits at the bottom of the cupholders. Every surface is sensuous to the touch. For once, a Jag/Ford product feels… finished.

Okay, so the exterior is lame, the interior is otherworldly. How does it drive? In a word: Yes. Yes as in the new XF drives as well as you'd hope any Jaguar would.

Jaguar wanted to build a luxury-sports car in keeping with its distinguished brand heritage– a tradition of which Larry the Law Firm Partner neither knows nor cares. What Larry does care about: beating the crap out of Bob’s Benz E350. And with this car, Larry’s good to go.

Jag’s 4.2 liter V8– a carry-over from the last generation S-Type– is the XF’s standard-fit powerplant. “But it only makes 300 horsepower! Lots of V6 engines do that!" Quit your bitching brand defilers, lest you taste the business end of my tassled loafers pushing you into an Acura RL. Even with "only" 300 horsepower underfoot, the entry-level XF accelerates from zero to sixty miles per hour in about six seconds. Besides, the Jaguar XF driving experience is fleet footed. The six speed auto is slicker than snot on a doorknob. The suspension feels buttoned down, with just enough feedback to keep it fun without being abusive.

There are downsides. While the XF is light on its toes, changing direction with confidence-inspiring predictability and hoon-compatible ease, it doesn’t have everlasting grip. Canst thou squeal like a porcine? The XF’s tires can. And the sport sedan’s steering is far too light for a car with genuine performance aspirations. But overall, driving the XF is like piloting a BMW without the e-Nanny hovering over your shoulder.

So much of this car is so right – the interior, the suspension, the engine and the transmission. Killer depreciation aside, the $50k asking price for a fully loaded V8 XF makes a mockery of the similarly-priced, stripped-out 535i. Unlike the Bimmer, Lexus or Audi equivalents, driving the XF makes you feel special.

It’s too bad that the mid-size Jag’s exterior went from a quaint retro curiosity to an OMG concept car to a quintessentially boring sedan. If Jag had found a way to keep the CX-F’s drama, they would have had a huge hit on their hands. As it stands now, all they have is a bit of time to kill before Ford sells Jaguar or, let’s face it, pulls the plug. Even as a swan song, the XF lacks the looks it needs to fly.

Justin Berkowitz
Justin Berkowitz

Immensely bored law student. I've also got 3 dogs.

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  • Hugh72 Hugh72 on Sep 23, 2008

    Well, I have been reading all the reviews from owners to car jornalist and I would like to say some about the design of XF. I am an designer and architect and and I do design cars too altough I do that just as a hoby but I have very good eye and I have to say what thay have done to XF is just perfect its a superb design it a blend of jaguar and aston, it has the best back light I have ever seen and if its not exactly like the C-XF thats very underestandable. We have seen many concept designs from diferent manufacturs but have you ever seen exact one on the road! jaguar never said thats the next jaguar too again dont forget that was a concept design. its the same with my job as an architect we do design many buildings as a concept design for a projects but when it comes to built its going to be diferent not too diferent though. I am surprised when some people think or say the look of this car is very close to volvo or infiniti or lexus!!! Absolutly not! even some car jornalist are saying that too and I have too say may be you know alot about the car but you dont have a good when it comes to design and look I am afraid. and at the end I realy sugest that go to a dealer and see that car in person and do not take a jodgement from the picturs, you will be pleased. you will see a sporty car with lots of british elegant tuches. XF it could be a next Jemes bond car.

  • RickRosay1389 RickRosay1389 on Mar 26, 2011

    So its March 27th, 2010 and BY FAR THIS IS THE MOST CAR 42k will get you in the used car market. There are a few supercharged ones available with under 10k miles. Just drove for the first time the other day and I was very impressed. The sporty style is understated and I like the stance. The interior is amazing and the engine is incredible. I am purchasing one when i find the black on black that is the right deal. They have moved forward with this model and the 2011 XF is basically the same car. Jag made a 500 horsepower motor which was the major change. I am happy to be buying outside of the BMW/Benz family and there are no cars made by either of these companies that compete with it unless you move into an M5 or E63 which will be about 20k more in the used car market. This is used car heaven as the article stated!

  • Kars This article was about Ford not Tesla - you are clearly confused.
  • Ollicat Those are individual charging stations vs entire gas stations that have 8 - 16 pumps. And gas stations take 3 minutes to fill vs 30 min to hours for a charging station. And gas pumps are much more likely to be working vs charging statins. Nice try with more propaganda though.
  • Richard Poore Sure, as the article itself notes (hence my ire) California has mandated that all new vehicles sold in state be EV by 2035. They require EV or hybrid by 2026. Since the author admits to this mandate it seems that the article title is clickbait... was really hoping that there was some sort of changes in the CA position since the state is sorely behind on where they need to be with charging stations for this sort of requirement.
  • VoGhost When will Audi eliminate the fake, oversized grills that impede aerodynamics?