Jaguar XF/Jaguar XF Supercharged Review

As a single finger touches the button on the console, the eye is drawn to motions in the cabin...the instrument cluster lights up...the air conditioning vents in the dashboard rotate into open position and a round knob glides upward from the console where it had previously been flush with the surface.

That's the first five seconds inside the new Jaguar XF. And it's meant to send the message that, nice as it was, the English gentleman's club era is over at Jaguar. No more cars meant to evoke the 50s and 60s (or reruns of Inspector Morse on PBS).

The exterior of the XF (which replaces the S-Type) sends the same message. Leaping cat hood ornament? Gone. Round headlights and driving lights surrounding an upright radiator? History. After being accused of going way too subtle in the redesigns of the XJ and XK, Jaguar's thrown away the rules on this one. There simply never has been a Jaguar that looks like this or that embraced current technology in the cabin the way the XF does.

My first impression was that Jaguar has built their version of a Lexus, but after a second tour in the XF (this time the 420-horsepower Supercharged model), I realize that's not accurate. It's a contemporary luxury sedan that reveals the Jaguar DNA in the driving experience.

Start with the XF in its standard form. 300 horsepower is more than adequate for excellent perofrmance...and economy is enhanced by a 6-speed automatic transmission...EPA estimates 16 city, 25 highway miles per gallon. Our tester had zero options. Zero. 19 inch wheels? Standard. Paddle-shifter? Standard. 320 watt Alpine audio system? Standard. DVD nav system? Standard. And a whole bunch more at a base price of $55,200. With transportation and handling charges, the bottom line was $55,975. And the experience was that of a much more expensive car.

And then there's the Supercharged...adding 120 horsepower to the mix, it's like driving a business jet. Takeoff speeds are attainable and it's only gravity and engineering that keep it from happening. Our tester also had the incredible Bowers & Wilkins Audio system. 14 speakers...with 440 watts of Dolby Pro Logic 7.1 channel surround sound. It's incredible, pure and simple. With Audi charging north of $6,000 for its Bang & Olufsen audio system, I braced myself for the bottom line on the Supercharged.

Are you ready?

$62,000...including the Bowers & Wilkins system.

Either way you go, you can't go wrong...but if $6,000 buys you the step up to the Supercharged, that's a major deal.

The XFR? 40 horsepower and $18,000 more than the Supercharged.

What can you say about that?

Ladies and Gentlemen, Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear:

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