I’m often asked, “what is the best luxury sedan out there?” In this year’s market, there is no clear “best” for midsize luxury sedan. Jaguar’s exquisite XF leads a pack of superb contenders, separated more by personal flare than by objective performance or quality.
What is clear is that anyone considering a vehicle in this segment absolutely must test the new XF before signing on a BMW, Audi, Mercedes or Lexus. Jaguar has always brought a level of British sophistication that its German and Japanese counterparts can’t seem to muster. And with the XF, they’ve done it again.
But unlike some Jags of yore, this cat offers BMW-esque performance, while retaining the storied Bentley and Rolls-like opulence that Jaguar buyers expect. Indeed, the new XF is more than athletic enough to hang with its rivals, whether at the track or on twisty back road driving.
What the XF offers more than any of its competitors is a sense of big-dollar luxury. For example, the Star Trek-like air vents, which electronically flip around to face you as the car turns on, the push-button ignition, and the round silver shift cylinder, which magically raises from the center console upon ignition. Some might see these luxury touches as gimmicky, but to the rest of us they’re downright cool.
From the outside-in, the XF represents a brave new era for Jaguar. Timeless and sophisticated touches remain, but those luxuries are complemented by class-leading technology and breathtaking performance.
XF buyers can choose from four awe-inspiring engines, depending on their need for speed and their budget. The XF’s smallest engine boasts more than 300-horsepower, while the supercharged powerplant on the high-performance XFR pumps out a whopping 510-horsepower. That engine is shared by the Aston Martin-like Jaguar XKR coupe, and it rockets the XFR to 60 miles per hour in about 4.5 seconds. For the record, that’s faster than some recent Ferraris.
The standard XF starts around $50,000 – a competitive price in this genre – and its base engine won’t disappoint most buyers. The majority of XF buyers will opt for the slightly pricier XF Premium, which boasts a mind-numbing 385-horsepower and can land around $60k, depending on options.
In reviewing my test notes for the XF, I see an embarrassing number of times that I penned the word “beautiful.” And for lack of a better term, that’s exactly what the XF is. From its low slung, swooping roofline to its stitched leather interior, the rims, air vents, and even the grille, this car has all the right styling in all the right places.
As mentioned, no single vehicle blows away the competition in this year’s offering of luxury sedans. Buyers will ultimately pick a winner for personal preferences of style and handling. For me, the Jaguar XF has become a personal favorite. The 2013 model improves on the 2009 launch of a competitive and stunning world-class sedan. Anyone shopping in this category simply must see – and drive-- the XF.
© 2012 John Dickerson, Horsepower Auto Reviews