Jaguar is moving to modernize its XF engine lineup – once the exclusive territory of V8 mills – with a range including a turbo four, a supercharged six and supercharged V8s of various potencies. Personally, I’ll miss the combination of this smooth looking and driving XF sedan, and the lazy power of the naturally aspirated 5.0-liter engine, even if the super six has earned some praise in other applications.
The truth is that the four, six, eight lineup for the XF makes a lot of sense, and this 2.0T version of the sedan is far better than I expected it to be. In fact, there’s a legitimate argument to be made for it as the XF that works the best for the largest group of customers. Here’s why:
For starters, the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is nothing like an actual drawback for the XF. Had I not known the joys of the 5.0-liter V8 in this car – if Jag had launched with the 2.0T as the base engine – I’d never label this as "the slow one." 240 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque are solidly competitive with turbo fours in BMW’s 5 Series and Audi’s A6, and the Jaguar feels just about as quick to get moving as that pair. I mostly didn’t like the XF 2.0T when it came to initial acceleration, where the motor needs to get spinning to 4,000 rpm or so before you get any real thrust. Higher-speed passing is a bit less stressed, though still not particularly quick.
Jaguar gives you a new eight-speed automatic transmission with which to modulate the power of the new 2.0T engine, too. There are manual and sport modes to go along with the default settings, but neither with hold the gear if you are taken with the spirit of wild adventure, and hit the redline. I found the standard shift logic to be, frankly, a bit jumpy around town. Some of my driving style comes in to play here, but the trans seemed almost overly eager to kick down, even if I wasn’t mashing the throttle. Slow and fast acceleration are both accommodated well, but the middle speeds caused some mental hiccups in the software. Of course, this was all easily remedied; I simply used the paddle shifters when I wanted to be aggressive.
Ride and handling were pretty smooth and stress-free, if not terrifically athletic. I’ve always thought that, for its size and class, the larger Jaguar XJ has always differentiated itself in a sporting way more than the XF. Middle-weight steering is pretty numb and slow to bring the nose around, in the unlikely event that you find yourself in a hard corner. You won’t – I had to work myself up to it – as the engine does little to enliven one to seek out fast stretches of road. On the plus side, with the removal of V8, the XF has become almost Lexus-like in terms of quiet at speed. It’s a characteristic that fits well with overall character of this 2.0 car, even if it makes the Jag a bit less enthusiastic than its German competitors.
Here’s something you do get with the XF that you won’t get with the Bimmer or the Audi: noticed. The slinky XF sedan shape has been around long enough, that I forget that loads have people have never seen one. I drove some friends through downtown Ann Arbor, MI, during the University of Michigan’s graduation weekend; no fewer than three passersby stopped to tell me what a nice car the XF was. I’ve never had that kind of response to an E-Class or 5er, for what it’s worth.
Let’s talk price. The XF 2.0T starts at a class-competitive $46,975 (before delivery and destination). That’s about a thousand less than a 528i, and a few thousand more than an A6 2.0T with Quattro. Now, my test car was optioned up to – make sure you’re sitting down for this – $68,175. The biggest chunk of that $20k-odd glut of options is taken up by the $10,150 "20" Sport Portfolio Pack," which bestows the XF with a luscious set of wheels and a truly palatial interior. Music lovers might also be tempted by the $2,300 Meridian sound system, which I enjoyed listening to a great deal.
Jaguar has set up an interesting lineup for the new XF, when I consider what’s good and bad about the tweaked lineup. For starters, no matter how you spend your money, you’re getting a car that’s both beautiful and rather unique on the road. Optioning up the thing will be expensive, as it the case for most of the luxury class, but you can now really choose your poison if you’ve fallen in love with the XF. Should you want a powerful, sports-like sedan, lay off the options list and make sure you’ve got one of the forced-induction Vs under the hood – the V6 supercharged starts just over $50k. If you just like the deeply luxurious feel of the high-spec XF, don’t sweat getting this perfectly adequate turbo-four engine, and enjoy the hell out of your big wheels, soft leather seats and banging audio system.