2012 Jaguar XF Supercharged Review & Test Drive
You do not have to know much about cars to realize the Jaguar brand is recognized for being a little different when it comes to luxury vehicles. Having a long lineage for British sports cars and fine luxury automobiles, Jaguar has recently been molded into a well-thought out modernized luxury statement. The new 2012 Jaguar XF is yet another model proving that Jaguar is taking a bold approach against a wide-field of competition.
The all-new 2012 Jaguar XF carries over its design from the previous year with a minor headlight and taillight refreshing. As with any new Jaguar vehicle, the interior takes on a life of its own. Certain novelties in the new XF, such as auto rotating/closing air vents and a motorized/collapsing transmission shift-turn knob, set it apart from other midsized luxury vehicles. With the interior being laced in leather and a custom Alcantara headliner (Jet Headliner), there is no doubting that all occupants will feel at home in the plush lap of luxury.
At the heart of the purring forced induction Jaguar XF is a 5.0-liter Supercharged V8 pouncing out a vigorous 470 horsepower and 424 ft-lbs. of torque. The torque curve comes on early around 2500 rpm and surges delightfully to near redline. The 5-liter V8, with the assistance of its pulley-driven supercharger, has an abrupt surge of power directed to the rear wheels through a snappy-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission. At times, due to the abrupt surge of torque, it feels as if the new XF’s 285/30ZR 20-inch tires are not adequate enough for transferring power to the pavement. Fortunately, the stability and traction control management keeps this purring Jaguar from getting out of line during a heated chase without losing its balance.
The Supercharged XF is cleverly sandwiched between the base naturally aspirated 385 horsepower 5.0-liter XF trims and the stout 510 horsepower Jaguar XFR. The new supercharged 2012 Jaguar XF’s performance attributes lead the entry-level-trimmed midsized luxury car pack in terms of straight line acceleration. When it comes to lateral acceleration at speeds around 60mph, the new XF Supercharged tends to push and unpredictably understeer more than one would expect. Lateral grip is somewhat of a disappointment in the XF, especially having a potent supercharged V8 under the vented aluminum hood. It is possible that the Jaguar XFR addresses the handling issue with its sport-tuned adaptive suspension setup.
The new Jaguar XF Supercharged Dynamic mode tends to tighten things up a bit with the active dampers, steering and throttle response. Although, the subtle difference in normal vs. dynamic mode is hardly noticeable.
Ride quality of the new XF Supercharged is a bit of a mixed bag. The adaptive suspension system at first feels sporty but turns soft the faster the midsized cat is pushed. The feeling is rather odd. In conjunction with the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx tires and active dampening, the new XF keeps things civilized and does not completely abandon the ride quality that is expected from a Jaguar even on uneven surfaces.
The new Jaguar XF Supercharged has an interior that is perceived as plush and luxurious. The leather dashboard overlays a small instrument cluster with center color information LCD screen. The infotainment interface via a center-mounted LCD screen for the new XF becomes user-friendly after spending 20 minutes navigating many deep menu options. The only thing holding the touch-screen interface back, aside from the smallish 7-inch screen, is the lag time experienced when buttons are depressed. Just like the same interface in the flagship Jaguar XJ, the new XF’s interface tends to hang and not respond as fast to inputs as you would want it to.
The killer 1,200 watt Bowers & Wilkins Audio system with 17 speakers is enough to keep your mind off of slow responding controls. The system will even muffle out the nice-sounding rumbling purr you get from the quad exhaust pipes of the XF Supercharged. Audio is crisp with excellent high and low tones. The integrated streaming Bluetooth Audio, USB connection and iPod interfaces also work like a charm seamlessly connecting to your iPhone, USB storage device or other Bluetooth enabled audio devices.
The interior of the new 2012 Jaguar XF has been slightly enhanced to provide better support in the front seats. Front seating areas have a lot of adjustability. However, the ventilated and heated front seats lack the necessary bolstering support when taking the twisty roads. Rear seating area is just enough for 3 adults provided they are normal to small sized.
With the superficial changes on the new 2012 Jaguar XF, such as LED daytime running lights up front newly styled LED tail lamps, the new XF does not seem all that different from last year. The fresh looking up-right grill and curvy sheet metal design all distinguish the new XF from the crowd yet brings back an old-school British look. Even the interior, tastefully using wood trim and metal accents, present the XF in an old-British style luxurious presentation. Bottom-line, the XF looks stunning inside and out fitting the part for a well-to-do gentleman or exquisite woman.
My all-new 2012 Jaguar XF Supercharged with a few options is priced at the upper echelon of the midsized luxury car segment at $73,065. Justifying the price of admission for a new Jaguar XF Supercharged may be a hard feat to digest for some. Perhaps there are particular enthusiasts who find an exceptional value the new midsized Cat at the base price of $68k for the XF Supercharged trim when you factor in its prowess blend of sport and luxury capped off with posh looks.